Physical stores offer tangible benefits to customers—whether it’s the convenience of trying out products on the spot or that burst of emotional gratification once a purchase is made. But taking your retail business online offers opportunities, too. And with the rise of mobile e-commerce, traditional ways of doing business have been transformed into “one click away” transactions.
In the last two decades, the online sector—often referred to as “clicks”—has slowly taken over the market share. According to National Australia Bank, Australians spent a total of A$28.6 billion on online shopping in 2018 and by the end of 2019 Australian online businesses will see a 15.1% growth in revenue according to Statista. To keep up with the pace set by digital transformation in the retail industry, it helps to keep the following things in mind if you’re considering taking your business online:
Conduct an audit
Performing an audit helps you understand how to talk about your products and to whom. Take stock of your existing inventory and understand your target audience. You can use the following guide questions to help you get started:
● Who are my target customers?
● What products do I sell?
● And among all my products, what items sell quickly to my customers?
It helps to note down your answers. These will serve as the foundation of your e-commerce strategy later on.
Defining your target customers in the digital space isn’t too different from understanding those who frequent your physical stores. And the great thing about digital is that there are multiple channels of information available to help you better understand what people are looking at and what they’re buying. We recommend taking the time to brainstorm and establish the buyer persona for your target audience. Similarly, pinpointing which products are consistently in demand and which ones need a bit more attention.
Strategise on pricing
When developing an online pricing strategy, it’s important to consider factors like production and business costs, revenue goals and competitor pricing as well as additional costs such as shipping and taxes. But remember, not every pricing strategy will work for every kind of retail business—so do your homework and decide what works best for your products and target customers.
To provide a deeper understanding of some of the most common pricing strategies for retail businesses, this article on pricing strategy might help.
Build your website
Think of your website as an extension of your storefront and these three things, the essentials that make it work:
● Decide on your website domain — this your website’s identity. Choose a domain name that’s similar to your current brand name to make it easy for your customers to find you online. You can use godaddy.com’s free domain checker tool to check first if the domain you want is still available.
● Choose the right host to home your site. There are numerous web hosting companies that provide servers to store and power a website. When choosing the right one, consider the best fit based on how much time and resources you can spare. Here’s a checklist of four simple steps when looking for the web host that’s right for you.
● Pick an e-commerce platform that supports your goals. Remember when we asked you to take stock of your products and your target audience? Selecting an e-commerce platform means understanding what you might need. When doing research, check if the platform’s features support your business needs while also meeting the requirements of your target customers.
Develop a marketing plan
You need to make an effort to grow your online sales. A website is just a website without a well-thought-out and properly executed marketing plan to drive awareness and increase sales. We compiled a list of must-haves to make your website not just a website, but a marketing-ready website. Aside from having an optimised website, it is good to include the following strategies in your marketing plan as well:
● Craft your content offer. Free samples in stores are always a great way to convince people that what your store has to offer is worth their while. Content is exactly like that and can come in the form of an ebook, a checklist, or even a guide. It helps in attracting leads to visit your website and to check out your products, and you can also use them to convert these leads into eventual customers.
● Put together a blog to share what you know. We’re all experts in our different fields and sharing what your knowledge of the industry you’re in helps to build rapport with your customers. Find out what your target audience is looking for and take this opportunity to present how your products or services can be the solution they need.
● Send out a monthly newsletter to keep people up to date. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your leads and customers. Include updates on your latest blog posts, new arrivals and bestsellers, as well as exclusive deals and promotions.
● Connect through social platforms. Creating a business account can help you reach more customers! Craft a content strategy for your social media pages. Post various relatable content more often than your products to make your business stand out and relatable to your followers. Do your research to make a content strategy that matches your niche. Also, consistent social media handle contributes to search engine rankings.
Set up your e-commerce store
Now that you have the basics, you can take the next step and begin your transition towards setting up your e-commerce store. Here are the important steps so you can make that happen:
● Upload your product catalogue. Potential customers need to know what you have in your inventory and how much these will cost—and if there are any variations in currency. You can also opt to mark your products so that people who browse through your site will know which items sell the most or what items are back in stock.
● Remember to use well-optimised images with great resolution. Your product page needs to be appealing to your customers without compromising your website’s performance. Pick images that are crisp for visual appeal and don’t forget to optimise for size so that these load quickly on your site.
● Don’t forget your product descriptions. Your products need to be found—thankfully, search engines like Google make that possible. Include target keywords when writing your product descriptions to optimize your products for searchability.
● Establish modes of payment for better transactions. When selecting payment methods, consider options that are accessible to your target customers. Remember to also note in your product descriptions if the published price on your website includes any additional fees, or if these will be added to the total amount once customers have moved to check-out.
● Test your shopping cart. Check if your shopping cart works by going through the whole order process to make sure that everything is working correctly. As a customer, did you receive the receipt via email with any important instructions? Was the corresponding amount deducted from your chosen mode of payment? As the seller, did you get the notification for the transaction? Has your inventory moved?
Transforming your retail business into e-tail can seem intimidating, but setting up isn’t an impossible task. Expanding into the digital space means opening your business to a wider market and scaling for growth. And if you need a bit more help, you can refer to this guide to get started.
Grab a copy of The Ultimate Marketing-ready Website Checklist here!