Bringing Your Existing Retail Store Online – Tips To Handle E-Commerce Like A Pro

After the events of the past year, most businesses have started to question the safety of their operations. The retail industry, and most precisely independent retailers, was one of the most affected areas of business. Apart from essential shops, all retailers were asked to close their doors indefinitely, which led to significant financial losses for most of them. 

Things have started to get better now, but retailers are still faced with resilience from customers, which have started to turn to online shopping in order to limit social interactions and stay at home for as much as possible. 

One of the most important rules of retail is to be where your customers are, and if most of your customers have moved online, so should your business. Of course, it can be challenging to shift to an entirely new business approach, but making the transition is not as difficult as you may think. Your experience with a physical store will be put to good use, and you will soon start to see the rewards. 

There are plenty of online solutions meant to help retailers navigate the pandemic, so all you need to do is find the recipe that works for your business. For example, some retailers have chosen to create a simple online store where customers can place their order and then come to pick it up in-store. This creates a connection between your online and offline store and is a much easier option for your customers. 

If you are ready to make the shift, below is a list of important tips we put together to help make things a little less complicated. 

Decide Which Shopping Channel To Use

You have multiple options to bring your business online. Some retailers choose to build their own eCommerce website, either through a platform or by using the services of a web development company, but others find it easier to do this through an established online marketplace

If you have not decided yet, below are some perks and perils of both options to make an informed choice. 

eCommerce Website

Running your own eCommerce website comes with a lot of advantages, including:

  • The ability to customize your store however you want to so that it matches your brand’s identity
  • Access to consumer information to better understand consumer behavior
  • Improved customer experience with loyalty programs, gift cards, and special offers

However, there are also a few disadvantages:

  • You’ll need to put in more effort to build, run, and manage the website
  • Marketing costs will be much higher, as you need to handle them yourself

Online Marketplace

Online marketplaces can also be a viable option for business owners due to a number of reasons:

  • The store is easy to set up and maintain, as you will only need to bother with uploading your products and adding some details about your business
  • You’ll have access to a bigger user base, especially if you use a popular marketplace such as Amazon or eBay
  • Because marketplaces want to drive customers to their platform, some will advertise your products for you if they match user interests. 

However, there are some negative aspects to keep in mind as well:

  • You have very little control over store customization and design
  • Some marketplaces have strict rules in place regarding the type of products you can sell and how to sell them.
  • You don’t get access to customer information because, technically speaking, these are the marketplace’s customers. 

Ultimately, the choice belongs to you, but we recommend focusing on opening an online store instead of choosing a marketplace, as it will benefit your business much more. 

All The Essential Pages Must Be Available At Launch

Before you plan to tell the world about your new online store, make sure all the important pages are up and running flawlessly. You want to make a good first impression, after all, and keep customers coming back, right?

Make sure each page includes recognizable brand imagery, including the company logo and elements that use brand colors. Here are the pages that must be ready at launch:

  • Home page
  • Contact us
  • Shipping 
  • Return and exchange
  • Product pages

All of these pages serve a very important role for the customers and make your eCommerce store look more professional and trustworthy. 

Invest In Marketing To Promote Your Website

After you’ve launched your store, it’s time to tell the world about it. Invest in marketing as much as you can to get the word out there and drive more traffic to your website. There are plenty of strategies you can implement, including social media marketing, newsletters, and ads. 

Setting up a social media account for your brand is paramount, so if you don’t have one already, you should do it as soon as possible. This is how you will get to stay in touch with people, receive feedback and reviews, and engage the audience. 

If you have an existing customer base, you can focus on email newsletters as well. You can easily create a PDF newsletter that you can send to customers to let them know you have gone online, provide a description of your website, as well as a discount code or some sort of special offer, to convince them to visit your online store. You don’t need to be a pro at visual design for this. You can create the newsletter in Microsoft Word or another text editor, then use a free PDF converter such as PDFChef to convert the document into PDF format. 

Take Into Consideration Shipping Methods As Well

To show your customers you care about them, take into consideration providing multiple shipping options. You can stick to traditional shipping methods, but you should speak to the shipping company about prices and see if you can lower the expenses for local customers. 

Another option is to set up in-store or curbside pickup as well. This way, customers can buy their products online the come by to pick them up. This saves both you and the customer money, so it’s a win-win situation for both, and your customers will really appreciate it. 

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