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Is Your Shop Ready to Join the Online Marketplace?

E-commerce is here to stay. According to the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study, 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone. It’s not just a one-time thing either — 4 in 10 purchases are now made using searching and buying.

Independent retailers, especially, struggle with how to remain profitable while striving to reach customers. No longer is it enough to put a sale sign in the window and expect customers to march through your door. Consumers may spend 64% of their shopping budget in-store, but the remainder is done online — that number is expected to increase by 15% annually.

So what are you supposed to do — the honest answer is — you’re not going to beat online retailers, so you might as well join them.

There are many benefits to integrating an online shop with your brick-and-mortar store. Websites are accessible 24/7, shipping integration gives you the freedom to expand your target market, and the ease of setting up and marketing an online store makes it a no-brainer for forward-thinking retailers.

For businesses considering joining the digital marketplace, here are two tips that will help you get hooked up.

Don’t Be Intimidated by Tech

Most people think they can’t handle all the tech, but you don’t need to know how to do everything yourself. There are easy-to-use tools that automate the e-commerce technology (such as drag-and-drop platforms with built-in shopping carts). Getting familiar with your options is an essential step toward clearing this perceived technology hurdle. Many distributors are also getting into the e-commerce world and offering plug-and-play solutions that can be integrated seamlessly with your existing website — check with your vendors because there are a number of advantages to this method including drop-shipping, high-quality product images and descriptions, and most will let you customize the online store with your own prices. Speaking of jumping on the bandwagon — it might be worth checking out the Amazon Affiliate Program which pays you between 4% and 15% of sales when a customer to the Amazon website buys something based on your referral.

Offer a Wider Selection Products

One common issue new e-commerce retailers run into is thinking in terms of one product. In other words, you might be thinking that your customer will come to your site and purchase just one product from you. This is a limiting mindset that is keeping you from making money — the reality is that 48% of users have bought or spent more than planned when shopping online.

Amazon takes full advantage of this impulsive trend — when you add a product to your cart, it immediately lets you know that others who bought that item also bought certain other items. Think about the up-sells you make in your real world shop —- what else might a customer need after buying your first product to boost their user experience?

Being able to virtually stock items in your online storefront has another advantage to your brick and mortar business. If you are taking part in an affiliate program, you are not required to layout the dough for a big purchase order or find extra room to store the products after they arrive. That’s a plus in itself, but it also gives you the budget-friendly ability to gauge the popularity of individual products and brands that you are considering putting on the actual shelf.

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