Creating a Smooth Link Between a Company’s Physical Store and Online StoreJanuary 20, 2021
The Covid-19 health crisis has caused many businesses to shift towards digital platforms. This is evident by the retail e-commerce industry’s 2020 third quarter revenue, which was estimated to be $199.4 billion, 37.1% higher than 2019’s sales for the same period. And while some industries lend themselves well to the online transition, not everyone is so lucky.
For one, well-known brands and big retail stores with an established online presence are much more secure compared to smaller shops. Businesses which rely more heavily on in-store experiences have had a rougher time during the pandemic. The consignment shop sector, for example, is likely to struggle despite posting a 7% growth in the past two years. This is because much of the success of consignment and thrift shops lies in the customer experience of rifling through their drawers and unearthing the perfect vintage trinket. Likewise, food shops and bakeries, have seen sales plummet as the pandemic has discouraged venturing out to brick-and-mortar stores. But most store owners can’t afford to wait for things to go back to normal, as data has shown that shopping behaviors developed during quarantine are likely to stay.
The question is how can store owners accommodate this shift to virtual space? We’ve listed down some tips.
Organize your supply chain
Covid-19 has disrupted our normal, day-to-day operations, creating supply shocks across different industries. This is why it’s important to decide how your business will fulfill orders from now on.
For small business owners, this means getting in constant touch with your suppliers to clarify what customer demands they can reasonably meet. For inventory management, check which of your products are in demand, and which aren’t selling to avoid unneeded storage costs. Additionally, you will have to think about the freight forwarders and the possible snags they might encounter given the limited movement caused by the pandemic. Amidst all of these concerns, transparency and constant communication is key in keeping your customers’ good faith.
Maximize your online presence
Be active on social media.
Be sure to make full use of social media as it is a great way to get in touch with your customers directly. These platforms are unique in that they serve as both an ad space and open forum to easily connect businesses with their customers. Plus, their features open up new marketing opportunities which traditional shopping channels can’t offer.
For instance, some online sellers host shopping livestreams to demo their products in real time. Customers can then buy the items they’re interested in directly through the stream. Strategic posting of relevant, interesting, and useful content on these platforms can help you grow your customer base and increase awareness for your brand. This will also help create foot traffic for your store, especially if you post sales and special events that will be happening.
Create your own website
Having your own website gives you full control over which products and services you want to highlight, while also reinforcing your brand’s identity. It’s fairly easy to create an online store, with a wealth of free website building tools and resources available online.
The important thing is to make the interface easy to use so customers don’t get confused upon landing on your page. Group your products into several categories, write clear descriptions about their features, and be sure to add keywords to make them easily searchable. If you have the resources to spare, you can even hire search engine optimization specialists and graphic designers to make your website more appealing and more visible online. Even if your main focus is the physical store, you must have a website for it. Outside of selling items you can have a blog to create a better connection with your customers and drive traffic both to the website and to your store.
Consider investing in data analytics
The e-commerce sector grew considerably in 2020, and is forecasted to expand further as more businesses adapt to the times. With this digital growth comes valuable data which businesses can mine for actionable insights. However, it’s difficult for the layman to understand this nebulous web of information when it’s unprocessed. This is where big data solutions will prove useful.
Information on purchasing behavior, product preferences, and service demands can be gleaned using data analytics. Depending on the service you choose, you can tweak and customize how the data is presented. For small business owners, this knowledge could spell the difference between struggling and taking the lion’s share of your target market.
The pandemic has made it harder for entrepreneurs to operate on-site stores. But careful strategizing and a smart use of technology will make the transition to the digital space more convenient for business owners, creating a smooth link between their online store and their physical store.