Before the explosion of digital technology, the best way to expand your brand’s reach was to open multiple brick-and-mortar stores in bustling neighborhoods. Luckily today, there are new options when it comes to scaling your business.
If your retail revenue has hit a ceiling, then it’s time to think about transitioning into the eCommerce market. Here is what every retailer needs to know before making the transition to selling online.
Three Reasons Retailers are Migrating Online
Retailers aren’t migrating online because they’re bored and want to experience something new. They’ve realized that selling online is necessary if they want to remain competitive in today’s growing digital economy.
- Gain a Competitive Edge: Having both a physical and online presence gives your brand a distinct advantage over your competitors. Although most people have made a purchase online, the majority of them still prefer to shop in-store. By offering both in-store and online shopping experiences, you can expand your reach and provide an omnichannel experience that will position your business for long-term success over your competition.
- Drive In-Store Purchases with Online Browsing: It probably doesn’t come as a big surprise that your customers use their smartphones to shop for products online. What might astonish you is that around half of them will visit your physical store within a day after doing a local search for your brand online. The sales funnel has become more complex as consumers now have the option to view and research products online before making an in-store purchase. While it’s true that a percentage of sales occur in a retail space, consumers can also be persuaded to make a sale online with a clever email campaign or social media engagement. By launching an online store, you can boost your physical store’s revenue and cover all the bases.
- Expand Your Brand’s Reach: Successful companies are always looking for new ways to drive sales and grow their brand identity. Your brick-and-mortar store can only reach your target market within a specific geographic location. Compare this to the millions — if not billions — of consumers that can access your online store.
Three Reasons eCommerce Pairs Well With SMBs
Moving into the eCommerce space can be daunting for SMBs, but it’s an important step to staying relevant in today’s busy market. In general, here is why migrating into the eCommerce market pays off for small and medium-sized retailers.
- Online Stores are Less Expensive to Run: While there are significant costs involved with running an online store, an eCommerce store is relatively inexpensive to operate when compared to brick-and-mortar stores. You can keep overhead costs low since you won’t have to worry about the cost and upkeep of a physical location. In fact, many online store processes — from inventory management to digital marketing — can now be automated to save you time and money.
- More People Now Shop Online: 2016 marks the first time ever that online shopping surpassed retail sales. In fact, over 190 million US consumers are expected to shop online by the end of the year. Online retailers have dramatically improved the online shopping experience in the past few years, making it easy and engaging for their customers. Consumers now choose to shop online for better prices and an engaging brand experience, not just because it’s a convenient option. Take this into consideration when creating your digital marketing campaigns and explore the option of offering free shipping during the holidays to encourage additional sales.
- Small Businesses Can Successfully Compete With Big Box Retailers: One of the biggest benefits of opening an online store is that it allows small and medium-sized retailers the chance to compete with big brands. More consumers are researching before purchasing online and recent metrics suggest that they prefer shopping with smaller online brands these days. Amazon definitely presents challenges, but the key to eCommerce success lies in providing a customer experience that is unique and personalized. Take all the best qualities of your retail store and use them to distinguish your brand online. Big retailers might seem invincible, but smaller businesses can create unique bonds with their customers through a curated collection of products, an engaging brand experience and fantastic customer support.
Five Ways to Get Started
Ready to capitalize on the rise of eCommerce? Here are five ways to get started on the path to success:
- Build Your Email List: If you don’t have an email list, start building one before you launch your online store. Leverage your existing customer base from your retail store by offering them incentives in exchange for their email address. Once you have a decent-sized list, you can begin building excitement for the launch of your online store.
- Promote Your Store Across Social Media: Don’t forget to promote the upcoming launch of your online store across your social media channels. Offer special promotions for your grand opening and leverage the power of live video to generate buzz for your brand. There’s no shame in asking your loyal customers and fans to share your posts! It’s smart to use every opportunity you have to spread the word about your new online store.
- Choose the Right eCommerce Platform: One of the toughest decisions a business owner must make is determining which eCommerce platform will best address their store’s needs. To give you some seasoned insight, check out our eCommerce platform guide to find the right fit for your store.
- Re-evaluate Your Target Market: As an experienced retailer, you probably researched your target market before opening your physical store. You should do this exercise again before launching your online store. Take time to learn more about your demographics, type of audience and the competitor landscape before you take the leap in the world of eCommerce. At Springbot, many of our customers are surprised to learn who is interested in buying their products. Once you uncover new markets, you can create additional customer personas that will help shape your future marketing campaigns.
- Have a Marketing Strategy in Place: To successfully run an eCommerce store, you need to put a solid digital marketing strategy in place. Without clear direction, you can put your online store in jeopardy. Creating a digital marketing strategy doesn’t happen overnight, so start working on this well before launch. Once your online store is up and running, your marketing strategies will continue to be instrumental in finding and retaining customers.
Transitioning into the eCommerce market is a smart move for the vast majority of small to medium-sized retailers. The rapid growth of eCommerce in recent years is expected to continue and by launching your online store now, you can start tapping into new markets and retain a competitive edge in a shifting retail landscape.