Making the Move to Online Retail
1. Have a Digital Strategy — and Think Mobile First
Like anything else for your business, create a digital strategy of what you would like to accomplish through online retail, what you will need to accomplish those goals and how you’ll measure your success. This would also include a digital advertising and marketing strategy.
And be sure to map out a specific plan for mobile devices. More than 90 percent of consumers are using smartphones while shopping in store, according to one study. Also, In 2017, about 35 percent of all e-commerce sales came from mobile devices, and that percentage is projected to increase to 54 percent by 2021. That’s led some to believe that consumers — especially youth — are going to a physical store but ordering online.
2. Get an e-commerce Platform
Take a look at e-commerce packages, especially if your small business doesn’t already have a website, These platforms are easy to use, even for any of you who may not have the technical expertise to, say, create a website on your own.
Not sure which platform is best for you? No problem. Just check out Inc.’s Top Seven E-Commerce platforms in 2018.
You could also try online marketplaces, like Etsy or Ebay.
3. Optimize Your Website
You should continuously review your website to make sure you are giving your customers the best experience possible online. Part of that means having a website that is mobile-friendly. Simplify the process customers go through when making a purchase online. But even before then, clearly list your store’s name, location and contact information. Include photos of your products with good descriptors and prices. (Read more tips about optimizing your website for online sales here.)
4. Partner with an Order and Fulfillment Vendor
Some small businesses will package and ship on their own, but that could easily grow expensive depending on who’s ordering what and from where. It could also take a longer time to reach the consumer. The other option is to partner with a vendor to handle packaging and shipping for you, which could mean quicker deliveries at reasonable prices.
5. Use Your Size as a Strength
Being small may seem daunting when it comes to e-commerce. You’re far from being Amazon or Walmart, some of the biggest names in the online retail industry. But, that’s OK!
One big advantage for small businesses is, well, your size. You can more easily offer a personalized customer experience. Personalization is more than just one-to-one conversation or feedback. It’s about knowing what your customers might want, too. Read Forbes’ tips on How to Personalize Your Marketing Efforts for more.
6. Optimize your Online to Offline Transition
Consumers aren’t ditching visiting retail stores and buying online. They may look online first to see what is in stock and where before driving out to your retail location, or vice versa. What does that mean for you? Well, you’ll want to create a seamless transition between online and offline retail.