Pandemic Pivoting: Ways to Take Your Storefront Online
As each state launches their plan to reopen, it may be more apparent than ever a need for a solid online business presence. The great news is, is that you have a base from which you can build from!
In 2019 e-commerce sales represented approximately 16% of all retail purchases, equating to $601.75 billion dollars in revenue. Most recently due to COVID-19, online sales have continued to increase dramatically, proving that even if you have or continue to be affected by state mandated closures you still have the ability to create multiple streams of income.
Whether you own a retail shop or restaurant, it may be time to prioritize and/or fine tune your virtual footprint.
Create a Plan
An online store is your opportunity to build a value creating channel, introduce your company to the global market and “own” your customer relationships. This process should be familiar, as it applies similar principals from when you first started. Focus on what makes you stand out and how you can continue provide consistency and value. Remember to factor in any additional cost you may incur by transitioning your business online. Once you have properly prepared, your conversion from brick and mortar to online should be fairly smooth.
Choose a Platform
When deciding on which platform to use, whether it be a third party platform, e-commerce marketplace or build your own ecommerce site, be sure that it compliments your business model. Platforms such as Shopify, Weebly and Wix are amongst the most recognizable and easy to use. It is important that during the planning phase that you research each company’s features in order to determine what will work best for your organization. Do they offer options for local delivery or curbside pickup? Don’t forget to refer back to your plan doubling check that you have all the tools needed to thrive.
Building Your Online Store
Once you have settled on the type of platform you will use, now is the time to start creating. Depending on the platform you choose- guided instructions are often available, most of which are fairly self-explanatory. However, if you run into any issue, there are dedicated sales team members that can assist you or even build your website for you. Your online store should include the basics, i.e. Brand logo, address, phone number, menus- ensuring that they are easy to view on both laptops and mobile devices. Prior to uploading your inventory a quick review may be necessary, especially if you have a larger selection. Choose inventory that targets a broader audience, including photos with high resolution and descriptions. Since you are moving online it is crucial that shipping details and exchange policies are also clear and visible.
As an established business owner, you may already have an idea of what marketing strategies for you. Although there is a bit of finesse that is required to attract new clients virtually, it is not impossible task. While consistency and quality visual content are key- the best SEO practices will assist you in generating more organic traffic and is a crucial part of building your audience online.
Once you have your online store up and running, give yourself a nice pat on the back- you have completed the hard part! Review your new online store on a consistent basis to ensure that everything is functioning properly in addition to adding fresh content and important announcements. You can also use this time to improve the aesthetic quality of your website.
The thought of converting your business to on an online format may seem daunting, but as a small business owner you rarely back away from a challenge- it is simply not your nature! With both your online and physical location in place- you can be confident that you have set yourself up sufficiently for any short-term challenges and long-term growth.