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Starting An Online Store

How To Become the Elusive E-Commerce Brick and Mortar

Imagine using binoculars to look through a landscaped bush, across the town square. You adjust your lens, and there it is, like an exotic wild cat sauntering through the market: It’s a small brick-and-mortar shop that’s already starting an online store.

These creatures are elusive, yet they’re anything but endangered. Business owners who once relied exclusively on brick-and-mortar traffic to drive sales now realize they’re battling extinction if they don’t modernize with a presence on the web. It’s a massive evolution, but it’s just as Charles Darwin figured out: If you don’t adapt, you won’t make it to the next generation.

Having an online store is vital for the bottom line of any physical store owner, even though many entrepreneurs are dragging their feet toward change. After all, many people got into business because they enjoyed working face to face with members of their community. But times have changed, and you must sell on the web to remain competitive. You may even be surprised at the opportunities it can offer.

You might be wondering, “How can a tech novice like me sell my products online?”

But just think if you already had a website when so many businesses were forced to close their doors temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. If you didn’t go online then — or if your brick-and-mortar business is new — there’s no time like right now to take the steps to get your website live.

It won’t take as long as you suspect to become one of the many local retailers who earn more from online sales that are shipped across the country than sales rung up at their registers each day.

Create an Easy-To-Navigate Design

In everything you do, either online or offline, you want to think of your customers first. Have a clear understanding of the type of people you’re trying to attract through your doors — those are the same kind of people you should focus on when designing your website. Start by choosing and purchasing a domain name that’s easy to spell and remember.

Then, consider the user’s experience of visiting your website. What would you like your customers to focus on? You’ll need a clear direction for your visitors to go — this is known in marketing as a call to action. It’s not too forward to tell people exactly what you want them to do. If you want them to “click here to see the latest specials,” then you need a button on your homepage to encourage exactly that.

Keep Up on Your Inventory

No one likes doing inventory, especially when you’re hunched over the shelves, counting for hours. Inventory is a lot easier when you have an organized system on an e-commerce website. When you get started, don’t feel like you have to offer your entire inventory online. Start with select items you think will be popular and easy to ship.

Keep track of what’s in stock. The last thing you want is for a customer to be disappointed because they bought something online and you sold out. Take time every morning to cross-check the inventory online and in your store.

Optimize Your Payment Systems

Have you heard the dreaded phrase, “cart abandonment rate”? This is one number no one wants to drive up. Customers are likely to think twice if you don’t make it frictionless for them to pay for whatever items they’re considering. It’s even easier to leave a website than to walk out of a store.

Offer as many options for payments as possible, beyond just debit and credit cards. Add electronic checks, gift cards, mobile wallets, and apps like Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle. Don’t make it hard for customers to give you money.

Incorporate Social Media

If you don’t already have a marketing plan, now is the time to think about ways to drive more traffic to your new website. Social media can be a highly effective and low-cost solution all in one.

While different industries are better marketed on different platforms, this industry thrives on Instagram! Focus on video reels and killer product images. And remember, you can never go wrong with lifestyle shots!

Remember Your Values

Don’t forget what sets your business apart. Your e-commerce website should include at least four pages: a homepage, a page highlighting your products or services, a “contact us” page to allow potential customers to keep in touch, and an “about us” page.

That “about us” page is a space to share your business’s story and values. Remind your customers what makes you first, better, or different. Telling your story in an authentic way helps readers see the throughline of your evolution into an entirely new business: the wildly elusive e-commerce and brick-and-mortar combination store.

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