From Retail to e-Tail: How to Launch an Ecommerce Website for Your Brick-and-Mortar Store
The ecommerce industry is a wide-open market. Recent advances in technology have removed many barriers to entry into the digital marketplace, and just about anyone can launch their own web store.
But this coin has another side. The accessibility of the market has led to a flood of new online retailers, dramatically increasing competition and marketing noise across the internet. As opening your own ecommerce store becomes easier, creating and sustaining long-term growth becomes more difficult.
Choosing not to have an ecommerce store, though, is becoming riskier by the day. Online shopping has become a must-place, and many consumers already expect their desire to brick-and-mortar businesses to additionally sell online. So how can you give your shoppers what they want in this increasingly crowded marketplace? As a business owner, what exactly does it take to successfully add e-tail to your retail?
The great news is, your experience of running a physical store automatically gives you so many advantages over internet-only merchants. A physical store carries with it a look and a feeling. It has customers with specific needs and products curated to your customer base. Your store is the physical representation of a brand, and you’ve doubtless already invested time and heart into establishing your brand’s identity. A good portion of your work is already done.
In this blog post, we’ll outline how to take full advantage of that head start. By combining your established brand identity with thoughtful strategy and skillful execution, you can branch into this new marketplace and capture new audiences never before reachable.
Phase One: The Devil’s In The Details
So you’ve decided to launch a web store to compliment your existing brick-and-mortar store. There are a couple of significant details to consider. Paying attention to the details as you set up your new ecommerce store will put you in a better position as your business grows — and will likely save you quite a bit of money and hassle in the meantime.
First, you need a domain name. The domain name is essentially the digital version of your building address; it tells customers where to find you. It ought to directly relate to your brand.
This may seem obvious, but putting sufficient thought and planning into the details will pay off. Consider this scenario: You purchase the perfect domain name and find an ecommerce platform that fits your needs and budget. But after you’ve established your site, you realize the platform and plan you’ve picked requires you to use a predetermined domain name. Missteps like that can cost you a lot of time, hassle, and frustration.
Ecommerce site Platform
Your ecommerce platform is another element to approach thoughtfully. We’ve seen many web hosting and site-building platforms spring up recently. These new technologies make it very easy to launch an ecommerce website, but which one is best for your ecommerce site? How do you choose, and what should you consider?
The answers will vary from business to business. Finding the right ecommerce platform is the most important stage to invest in, so do your research.
Research it as thoroughly as you would if you were scouting a new location for your brick-and-mortar business. Check out documentation and support forums. Talk to an ecommerce consultant.
Finding the right ecommerce platform is the most important stage to invest in, so do your research.
One rule holds true for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce businesses: Moving sucks. Migrating all of your product details and inventory from your physical store to your online store, or from one platform to another, can be time-consuming, tedious, and expensive. Your platform should be able to scale with your business for at least three to five years. So it’s critical to define your current needs and to accurately forecast your needs for the future. Avoid outgrowing your platform early by investing inaccurate growth projections before making any platform decisions.