8 steps to move your brick-and-mortar store online

According to Statista, from October to December 2022, the share of ecommerce in the US retail sales hit the highest quarterly revenue in history.

This shows that customers like the convenience and variety of online shopping and that brick-and-mortar retailers can’t fully meet customers’ expectations without a digital store.

Why move your retail business online

Launching an online store can bring multiple benefits to your retail business.

A wider reach

An ecommerce website serves as an additional customer touchpoint that operates around the clock and enables you to reach people outside your store’s location and from all over the internet. In addition, if you adopt a solid search engine optimization strategy, you can increase your brand’s visibility and attract even more potential visitors to your digital store.

Improved customer convenience

An online store simplifies customers’ interaction with a retailer, allowing them to shop outside business hours, consider their purchase for as long as they need to, and choose the most suitable delivery and payment option. Moreover, businesses can integrate their digital stores with several communication channels, such as live chats or social media, to simplify customer communication.

Easy data collection

Ecommerce stores equipped with data analytics tools help retailers to identify and then analyze a customer’s shopping habits, product preferences, average order value, and reasons for shopping cart abandonment. Businesses can then use these insights to minimize friction in buying journeys and personalize shopping experiences for various audience segments.

Keeping business resilient

Going online enables retailers to adapt to factors that can negatively affect physical stores, from the high cost of rent to unfavorable economic situations. What’s more, since the share of ecommerce sales is constantly growing, brands with digital shopping channels have a competitive edge over brick-and-mortar-only retailers.

Eight steps to bring your store online

This step-by-step guide explains how businesses can successfully bring their retail business online.

1. Build your ecommerce website

  • Domain name. First, companies should choose a domain name for their website. Ideally, it should match your brick-and-mortar brand’s name or be as close as possible to it. If your selected name is already taken, consider adding suffixes or additional words to it, e.g., BRANDstore.com instead of BRAND.com.
  • On-premises solution or ecommerce platform. Retailers have two options for creating online stores. One is to develop a custom ecommerce site and host it on local servers. The other one involves setting up a store on a ready-to-use cloud-based ecommerce platform. The choice depends on the company’s needs, budget, and technical expertise.
  • Design. Online stores should have a visually appealing design aligned with the company’s branding. A good practice is to make the user interface simple, easy to navigate, and mobile-responsive for easy and enjoyable shopping experiences.

2. Add payment options

Ecommerce websites should be capable of accepting various types of payments from customers as well as ensure quick checkout and seamless buyer journeys. This is why store owners need to research beforehand what payment methods their target audience prefers and then integrate them into the site. For example, many customers still use credit or debit cards to pay online, but retailers can also benefit from adding digital and mobile wallets that currently account for about half of global ecommerce payment transactions.

3. Establish customer support

Unlike physical stores where customers can directly consult salespeople, ecommerce websites don’t allow for face-to-face communication. Still, customers would have questions about their purchases, deliveries, or returns you would need to answer. To begin with, retailers can put the store’s business email address and a live chat with customer support agents in an easy-to-notice place on their site. Later, they can create a FAQ section to help customers quickly find answers to their questions and take the load off their support team. If you’re still being swamped by customer queries, consider finding a call answering service for ecommerce businesses. They’re experts in customer service and handling, freeing you up to get on with order fulfilment.

4. Integrate the inventory and warehouse systems

To avoid situations when a product ordered online cannot be delivered because it has already been bought from a physical store, retailers should synchronize their inventory and warehouse management systems with the ecommerce website. This integration will help control the number of products available for shipping and prevent order fulfillment issues resulting in customer complaints or refunds.

5. Decide on the shipping method

Delivering an item purchased online is much more complex than handing it over the counter to the customer. In the case of ecommerce, retailers can ship orders to customers themselves or team up with a third-party shipping service. Companies opting for the latter option should choose a delivery service provider that can integrate with the ecommerce store to ensure consistent, real-time order tracking. In both cases, store owners should automatically calculate shipping rates and have the customers can pay for their purchase and shipment in one transaction.

6. Choose products for online orders

If you sell an extensive assortment of products, it can be overwhelming to upload all your SKUs to your new online store. Moreover, some inventory items can perform well in brick-and-mortar stores but fail to entice customers when sold online. Therefore, businesses should select products to put up to sell online, for example, their top-performing items. Alternatively, retailers can choose the products strategically to appeal to a broad audience. So it’s no wonder that more and more store owners are investing in ecommerce development services to move their businesses online.

7. Leverage online marketing

To promote their recently created store to potential customers, online merchants should adopt a comprehensive marketing strategy that can include the following:

  • Analytics for monitoring audience, buying behavior, and conversion rates
  • Content creation to attract organic traffic to the site
  • SEO to optimize the online store and get more traffic from the target audience 
  • Social media and email marketing for communication with customers and brand promotion
  • Online ads to attract visitors to the site in addition to the organic traffic

To maximize marketing efforts yield, retailers can target both online and offline audiences and adjust their campaigns respectively.

8. Determine your staff needs

Just like with an offline store, an ecommerce website needs people who will operate it. Knowing all the ins and outs of their retail niche, business owners can allocate store management to in-house IT staff, if any. Otherwise, they can consider hiring a team of professionals responsible for different aspects of the store, such as managers, online merchandisers, graphic designers, online marketing specialists, warehouse staff, and support reps.

Wrapping up

Although customers still go to physical stores, they’ve developed a new habit of online shopping and expect merchants to meet this need. Therefore, retailers determined to future-proof their brand should make ecommerce a natural extension of their brick-and-mortar business. Launching an ecommerce opens up an opportunity for retail businesses to scale up, grow, and gain a competitive advantage over exclusively online or brick-and-mortar merchants.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer

Email https://markmeets.com/contact-form/

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