So you kind of made it. Business is healthy, you have plenty of regular customers, conversions from walk-ins are at an all-time high. You are about to take the next step, from offline to online.
The internet know-it-alls of e-commerce have their concerns though. It’s a different game, they say. New rules, requiring a new set of skills. Bad news: They have a point, and you should probably listen to the experts. Good news: You already know how to be profitable. Good news 2: To help out, we have collected some of the dos and don’ts for expanding a brick-and-mortar business into an online environment. Yay!
…lay your foundation
Choosing an e-commerce platform is probably your no. 1 task. There are quite a few well-known options out there, each one with its own pros and cons. Klarna offers smoooth integration with all the leading platforms: Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and others. There is a good reason why both large and small retailers are using the same platforms: it makes the shopping journey feel familiar, even to customers who are new to the brand.
…send old-fashioned emails
Take 20 seconds to reflect on the following:
- It costs 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
- The typical online store gets 43% of its revenue from repeat purchases.
- Returning customers spend 120% more annually than new customers.
- Repeat customers convert nearly twice as much as new customers.
Credits to ShipBob for that list. Now, any thoughts on using email as a marketing tool?
…sweeten the deal with extra millennial sugar
Millennials in their career years will probably be your core consumer cohort for the foreseeable future. Yep, they are savvy online. Getting more financially capable by the day. Expecting convenience and immediacy. Hey, they are basically you and me! Now, all this translates into specific needs that quite frankly must be met in a compelling online shopping environment which targets younger shoppers. This means:
- Fast checkouts to help reduce cart abandonment
- Flexible payment options such as ‘buy now, pay later’ with interest-free installments over time
- Convenient delivery, i.e. the same day
…respond to messages
The second you light up your Open Online sign you can no longer hide behind the counter. You’re open 24/7 and customers expect prompt responses and issue resolution. Embrace it and make that customer service shine!
…pick the cherries
No one said you have to transfer ALL your business online. Being a seasoned retailer, you should have a good idea of what type of customer you’re selling to. Look at the sales data and then try to pin down where your targeted online shopper fits in. Maybe you need to broaden your offering? Yes, this is where you’ll create a buyer persona with name, behavior patterns and the lot. Happy workshopping!
…go mobile now!
Already more than half of all retail e-commerce in the world is being generated via mobile devices. As this share is projected to increase, it’s hard to make a case for not investing in a mobile-optimized – and speedy – checkout, including your brick-and-mortar one. 76 percent of consumers shop on mobile devices because they think “it saves them time”, so why not prove them right?
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…take it (too) personally
The fundamental difference between trading online vs offline is that everything in your digital offering can be iterated, changed, updated, polished etc. With speed and ease. The trick is not to get emotionally invested in the outcome of your first efforts online. Instead, try to relate to your business as a game you’re playing; watch, reflect, make improvements as you go along. It’s just pixels anyway.
…forget to bring your marathon running shoes
The data says more online shopping gets executed on Sunday nights than any other time, meaning sleeping in on a Monday morning will just not cut it (has it ever?). That said, going online could, in fact, turn out to be an unexpectedly slow experience and perhaps the ultimate test of your patience. When super entrepreneur and internet profile Gary Vaynerchuk was asked about tips for getting a family-owned brick-and-mortar grocer up and running, he touched on the effect of competition online and established shopping patterns.
“It’s going to struggle for the first 12-24 months because in general, it’s a high friction area,” he said. “For a family grocer to become an internet player is a tough haul. So patience is going to be an incredibly important part of your success.”
…try to do it all alone / be afraid to outsource
This is an actual quote from an e-commerce platform provider: “The winning argument for getting your business online is definitely the fact that it’s so simple, you can absolutely do it yourself.”
Well, that may be so, but it’s after setting up your platform that the real work starts.
Is it time to revamp the company brand, make it more ‘digital’? Why not send out a newsletter, with some sort of value, a promotion code? Will you be selling all these products online as well? What about social media channels, do you bother with all of them? Does one start a blog? What is the Facebook API access token? Who’s doing the content anyway, building a presence online? Are you on Youtube yet? Should you be? Should you change your pricing strategy, by the way?
Well, maybe you could make use of an extra pair of hands after all.
…forget where you came from
Just a reminder: think of how you can promote your new venture from within your physical store and drive customers online. What about making sure that every bag leaving the store has a flyer in it with some sort of creative call to action? A coupon that is online-only, giving people a reason to join your digital environment.
…settle for bad page ranking
There is really no shortcut here. Someone has to get invested in learning the ins and outs of SEO and how to set up Facebook ads targeted within a 2-mile radius of your shop – which is quite different from the 20-mile radius campaign, wouldn’t you agree?