The transformation of how a business operates is inevitable. It’s just a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.
Whether you like it or not, technology is (and has been for many years) changing the way we go about our lives on a daily basis. From the way we communicate with our friends and family, to the way we can purchase our weekly grocery shopping without even leaving the house.
In this article we’ll explore the transition from bricks and mortar to operating your business in a more intuitive way online.
Why move your business online?
Firstly, let’s focus on the why. Why should I invest in creating an online store for my business? The counter question should be, can you afford not to?
It is predicted that by 2040 95% of purchases will be made online. That may be a few years down the road, but predictions are there to be made.
People like convenience, and if there is a more convenient way to achieve a task then they will opt for that. Businesses have no choice but to adapt to consumer behaviour, the changes are going to happen around them regardless. Just take a walk down your local high street to see what the effect of convenience has on consumers. It is better to be proactive rather than reactive in order to avoid being another casualty to change.
An online business has many advantages over a brick and mortar business.
1. Expand your reach
Because your online store can now be accessed from anywhere with a wifi connection, you now have a global reach, opening up new markets you may have thought were not accessible before.
2. You’re now open 24/7
An online business doesn’t shut at 5pm everyday, close for weekends, or even the holidays for that matter. Your business now has the potential to make sales every day of the year, at any time of day.
3. You’re searchable
Now that you are online, when a potential buyer does a Google search for a product that you offer, there is every chance that they’ll click through to your online store and make a purchase.
4. Smarter advertising
You now don’t have to rely on word of mouth or passers by in the street. You can place ads for your business all over the internet. You can even precisely target potential customers based on certain demographics, such as their age and location. Better still, you can ‘follow up’ on customers who maybe didn’t purchase the first time around by placing ads when they next visit certain websites using retargeting strategies. Rather than your customers coming to you, you can go to them.
Not only will you be offering a more streamlined service to your current customers, you will be in a better position to attract new ones too.
How do I get my shop online?
Supplementing your brick and mortar business with an online store is not as difficult as you may think. There are plenty of DIY services out there such as Shopify, Squarespace etc which enable you to choose a pre-made theme and off you go.
You may however have more complex requirements, or want your brand to be better represented, or you really want to fine-tune the experience in order to convert those window shoppers into customers.
Every business is unique, and every business has their own unique way of doing things. Your online store should be no different. Creating an experience that matches your businesses uniqueness is imperative to keeping that brand continuity offline and online.
If your brick and mortar business is known for providing excellent customer service, then that should be at the forefront of your online business.
Focus on your customers
I’m sure you can think of many times you have had a good experience as a customer, it would have left you feeling happy with a sense of satisfaction. On the flip-side, you’ve no doubt had the opposite feeling with a bad experience which has left you angry or frustrated.
You want your customers to have a pain free experience when dealing with your brand. If they have a positive experience, they are going to leave satisfied. They might even tell their friends and family about their experience, and in turn are promoting your products or services. For free!
The customer experience is the perception someone has of your brand. From the tone of voice on your website to the checkout process, and even receiving the product they ordered, it all encompasses the customer experience. Every touch point a customer has with your brand impacts their perception of you and their decision on whether to keep coming back or not.
Your customers' perception of your brand must be a top priority. In an age of social media and connectivity you cannot just brush a negative experience under the carpet.
Get this one right, and you’ll be on your way!
More than half of ecommerce sales are made from a mobile device. Which makes it imperative that your website is optimised to be displayed at all screen sizes, and more importantly the user experience has been the core focus of its design.
This was just a quick overview of some of the benefits, and some key areas to focus on when transitioning a brick and mortar business online. If there is one key takeaway from this post it would be customers. They’re the lifeblood of every business and should be your number one focus when creating an online experience. Take good care of them, and they’ll take good care of you.