Every year, general retail sales in brick and mortar stores grow by approximately 3 percent. While that’s certainly better than nothing, it hardly compares to the annual 15 percent hike in e-commerce transactions. That’s just one of several reasons why you should consider expanding your physical location into cyberspace.
If you run a retail operation, chances are good that you have painful experience with this scenario: A customer walks in and inspects some of your products. Perhaps she takes a significant slice of a sales associate’s time as well, only to leave without making a purchase. On her way out, she casually thanks you and indicates that she can find a lower price online and won’t even need to carry her purchases home.
Opening your own e-commerce environment will enable you to capture customers like her. She can benefit from seeing and touching the merchandise she wants, ask questions of a knowledgeable salesperson and then close the sale on your website from the convenience of her own home.
Read the Writing on the Wall
Be on the lookout for some of these signs that indicate that going online might be the right choice for you: Have your sales dropped steadily over the past 12 to 18 months? Are you discovering that your offline advertising strategies are not giving you as much return on your investment as they once did? Finally, is the neighborhood where your store is located going through changes that might negatively impact foot traffic?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, it’s probably in your best interests to expand your enterprise onto the internet before you sustain significant losses.
Another reason to branch out to another environment has to do with what’s going on within your current business. If you are having trouble finding or keeping competent and knowledgeable staff who consistently treat your customers well, patrons will have little incentive to make the trip to your shop. By the same token, if your inventory is outdated or your stock is poorly organized, you may receive negative customer reviews that can be shared with just a few clicks.
When you have an organized website and a merchant services company offering both in-store and online payments solutions, you can begin to address some of these problems. You might consider upgrading your point-of-sale (POS) system as well since modern ones can automate inventory management and help ensure you always have stock on hand.
As much as you might wish that cyber retail would go away, it shows no signs of disappearing. By embracing an online presence, you may diversify your customer base and even better organize your current physical location. So if the indicators suggest that it’s time for change, take a deep breath and make the leap online.