Posted on March 24 2020
Many companies are looking to either make the switch from their physical premises permanently or complement their existing business plan by investing in an online store. Thanks to the ease of online shopping, Internet sales have boomed over the last few years, and with plenty of relaxed return policies and exclusive sales to take advantage of, many people have moved to complete the majority of their shopping on the net.
This is all well and good, but what about actually making that move to an online store? Whether you’re selling charms and keyrings or clothes and electronics, to help clue you up and prepare you for online retail, Zap! Creatives have put together a handy list on how to switch from a brick and mortar store to online.
Decide on Your Online Platform
Your first port of call should be deciding on the best platform for your online store, so which e-commerce channel is best?
This really does depend on what you sell – and who you sell it to. Ordinarily, this will boil down to one of two options; an e-commerce website or an online marketplace.
With the aid of an e-commerce website you’re able to manage the site itself, showcase your range of products and easily conduct transactions with your customer base. When it comes to picking a host, there are plenty of options out there that will offer an all-in-one package to suit your needs, such as WordPress, Shopify and BigCommerce.
Alternatively, you may choose to use an open source e-commerce platform such as WooCommerce. Such platforms give you increased control over the website and much more scope to scale up should you need it, however, these platforms are more in-depth and will require a more advanced skill set and technical knowledge.
The advantages of these e-commerce sites are numerous; two of the biggest selling points of this platform type include full branding and customising your website, as well as the ability to gather customer information via purchases and newsletter subscriptions, this allows you to nurture customer relationships and grow a loyal client base.
Of course, the flip side of this and one disadvantage is that you have no ready-to-access customer base from day 1, as would be the case on an established online marketplace.
Online marketplaces are a great way to start selling to internet-savvy audiences, affording you an instant pool of customers to potentially reach with your goods. Such sites include huge names like Amazon, eBay and Etsy, places in which you can find just about anything that you’re looking for. However, there are some disadvantages to this medium of platform.
The majority of online marketplaces will afford you little control and customisation over your store, so getting the site to reflect and resonate with your brand image can be a little trickier and things run the risk of being a little more faceless than with an e-commerce website.
There’s also the small matter of the marketplace’s often strict rules and regulations to comply with (their site, their rules!) as well as marketplace fees which can soon eat into your profits.
Bear Your Branding in Mind
Whether you’re making a permanent switch from bricks and mortar to online or looking to complement your store with an online range of products, it’s important that you keep your branding consistent.
This helps with familiarity, after all, your existing customers are used to seeing your logo and brand colour scheme, linking the two directly with your products or services. There are a couple of ways to go about instilling your branding ethos online; use an e-commerce platform that allows for easy customisation, or alternatively, hire a web designer to create branded designs for your site.
Of course, you should also remember not to focus on style over substance too. If you want your customers to return and keeping using your online platform, it’s going to have to function smoothly and offer the best possible online shopping experience. You should ensure that your homepage and product categories aren’t cluttered, that text is clear and easy-to-read and that images are of a high-quality, avoiding stock imagery where possible. All of this will add to enhancing your customer’s experience and increase the likelihood of them returning to use your online platform.