5 Reasons why every product-based business should have an online store
This year has really solidified the need for Ecommerce options for most businesses. Many businesses were forced to close their doors to customers when COVID-19 first hit and very few were ready to sell their products online. Many businesses have been able to pivot but many others were forced to close their doors operating on such tight margins to begin with.
COVID-19 has taught the world the value in being able to get what you need from the comfort of your own home. In a few short months, we have seen cars being sold online, houses being previewed through virtual tours, and contactless delivery becoming the gold standard. As we start to see economies opening up again, many of these changes are sticking around.
Now that your business has made it through the lock-down, it is a great time to start thinking about future-proofing your business. If the second wave does come, you’ll be glad you are ready to sell your products and continue your business despite tight social distancing restrictions.
In case you are not convinced, we have 5 reasons every product-based business should consider selling online, pandemic or not:
1. Social Distancing Proof
We are all hoping the days of social distancing are coming to a close, but it’s always smart to plan for the worst-case scenario. There are many who predict a second wave in the fall or early next year, which could have us back in our homes practicing strict social distancing measures again.
If this is the case, demand for online shopping will surge again with most of us preferring to have our goods come to us. With an online store, your customers can continue to access your business and purchase your products without having to worry about putting themselves at risk in a public space. Moreover, your staff can focus on fulfilling online orders without needing to interact with the public.
We saw many businesses use social media to continue to reach their customers at the beginning of the year. This involved posting images of their inventory and communicating with customers through DMs or over the phone to process orders. While this method helped many businesses stay afloat, the lack of automation slowed down their productivity and ultimately limited the number of customers they could serve. It also restricted access to purchasing to within regular business hours, preventing customers from being able to purchase something while sitting on their couch in the evening watching Netflix – a surprisingly popular time to shop!
2. Excellent Return on Investment
Building a new Ecommerce website is an investment – one that many businesses are hesitant to make. But when you look at the ROI, it’s an absolute no-brainer!
Compared with the cost of setting up and running a brick and mortar store front, an Ecommerce website is significantly more affordable. The largest cost will of course be the initial build, but once it is finished, many Ecommerce platforms have low monthly fees, and can easily be updated and maintained in-house by existing staff with a little bit of training. From there, if budget allows, you can add a marketing budget to reach more customers through social media platforms or Google ads. For an online store, staffing needs are significantly lower with the focus being on fulfilling orders and customer service.
With a brick and mortar store, business owners pay monthly rent, have greater staffing needs, and rely on walk-in customers to sell their products. Marketing can be done online, but the final action is still asking someone to come in and visit your store to complete a purchase. You can completely eliminate that step by marketing with the product ready to be added to a virtual shopping cart in that moment.
Compared to the cost of running a store front, an Ecommerce website quickly recoups the investment made in creating it, and can be an incredible source of revenue going forward.
3. Your store is always open
The best part about running an online store is the automation. Customers can shop at their leisure, add items to their cart and finish purchases at all hours of the day, any day of the week. Customers don’t need to wait for staff to be available or a store to be open. They simply shop on their own time, knowing that when they complete a purchase, they can expect it to arrive within the set shipping time.
As a business owner, this provides great freedom and flexibility, knowing your business is open even when you are not there. Your staffing needs shift to focusing on fulfilling orders and responding to customer service needs, rather than opening and maintaining a store front, handling cash, and interacting with customers.
4. Get to know your customers better
As a business owner of a brick and mortar store, you can learn a fair bit about your customer’s shopping habits. Mostly things like most popular times they shop, average purchase price, and basic demographics. All of which rely on observation of real people in real time.
With an Ecommerce website, you can access a vast amount of insights about your customers, your website, what people are searching for where on the internet they are coming from, all of which is automatically tracked and available to you at any time. Hugely valuable metrics like the most popular items, most active days and times for completed transactions, trends of abandoning shopping carts, stagnant items and pages that don’t get results. Arguably the most important information you can access is detailed demographic information about your customers so you can focus your marketing efforts on reaching the type of people who are most likely to complete purchases and continue to return.
In a physical store you have no way of knowing why someone leaves without purchasing, what their last move was before they left, or if they’ve shopped with you before. Of course there are ways of keeping track of some of these items, but again, it relies on staff observation or collecting this information at the time of purchase – which only gives you a small window into your customer’s shopping experience.
5. Increase your reach
A physical store relies on local foot traffic to complete sales. People must know about the store, the store front must appeal to customers, and marketing efforts are traditionally very locally focused, usually done in print or radio. The problem with traditional marketing is businesses cast a wide net at a diverse population, many of which are not their ideal customers. There is no way of tracking the effectiveness of a print or radio ad, beyond the measurement of how many people it likely reached.
Marketing aside, an online store increases your reach to a much larger audience that does not rely on local shopping habits. Your reach expands regionally, provincially, nationally and even worldwide. Why settle for reaching a tiny slice of the pie, when you can reach the whole thing?
There is no better time than now to pivot your business to selling online. Even if social distancing measures are ending, there are so many other benefits to take advantage of operating an online store. To learn how we can help your business take this next step, reach out today.