Going from Brick-and-Mortar to the Internet & E-Commerce
Many brick-and-mortar store owners have difficulty transferring what they know about running a physical store onto the internet. This can result in many issues that can affect your customers and your bottom line.
It’s important to properly integrate your company’s online e-commerce store with your brick-and-mortar location so that you don’t end up running the two without any meaningful connection between them. Not only does this scenario lead to wasted resources, but it also frustrates customers when they don’t get the experience that they want from your brand.
One of the most difficult aspects of running an online store and a physical store can be managing inventory. Many businesses do not take the time to sync in-store inventory with e-commerce sales. Failing to do so can result in incorrect inventory and potential lost sales. It also results in more work for you if you need to manually sync your inventory. By automatically syncing, sales that happen in-store automatically adjust online inventory and vice versa.
Understand that Customers Go Online First
Even if you don’t offer a full e-commerce site, it’s important to understand that many, many customers do research online before going into a store to make a purchase. They could be checking for reviews or looking online for additional product information. However, in many cases, customers want to know if a retailer has a particular product in store before they head to a physical location. This process has been called “reverse showrooming.”
If a customer can’t visit your store’s website in order to see if you stock a product, they are likely to go elsewhere rather than spend time travelling to a store only to risk finding that the store doesn’t have what they’re looking for. This is why, at minimum, you should list your store’s inventory online.
Offer Local Pick-ups and Returns
Many customers want to shop online, where they can do research more easily, compare prices, etc. but they also want the convenience of being able to pick up a product today, rather than waiting for it to be shipped.
You can differentiate your store from an online-only retailer by offering in-store pick-ups and returns. These services are incredibly valuable for customers and can certainly make your business stand out.
Focus on Online Marketing
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many owners of brick-and-mortar stores do not spend a great deal of time or effort on online marketing, search engine optimization and other such activities. This tends to be true even when a brick-and-mortar retailer also runs an e-commerce store. Business owners tend to focus more on the physical store, leaving the online business as an afterthought.
This can be a mistake. As mentioned, many customers do research online. In addition, more and more customers want to make purchases online. Even if you have a fully-functional e-commerce store set up, it won’t help your business much unless people who are searching online can find your website.
For this reason, it’s important to spend some time understanding different internet marketing methods and to make a decision as to which ones you would like to pursue. Doing nothing simply isn’t a viable option anymore.