How To Make The Transition From Brick-And-Mortar To An Online Store: Five Tips

Torben Baumdick – Founder & CEO of BAUMDICK GmbH

Sales on the internet continue to grow with each passing year. It is almost impossible for retailers to escape the trend of selling from their own websites. Many retailers, however, believe that the step to an online store is a difficult undertaking. They simply feel overwhelmed.

I’ve found this primarily has to do with a fear of technology. In addition, there is the fear of not understanding the world of online marketing. As the founder of an e-commerce consultancy, I have made it my mission to help people make the switch from offline to online commerce. Here are five of my tips for retailers that are key to getting started in online commerce. One thing should quickly become clear: Running an online store is not witchcraft.

1. Choose the right store system.

Don’t worry—you don’t need programming skills to run an online store. There are store-building systems available today. With such a system, you can easily assemble your online store. Individual pages can be easily created and connected. There are now countless store construction kit systems offered. The question is, which system is best suited for you and your store?

The most important thing, in the beginning, is to identify what you require from a system. Then, research which system fits those needs. However, keep in mind that there is no “one-size-fits-all” shop system that will suit every single e-commerce project of yours. But no matter which store system you choose, you can create your online store and add payment methods quickly with almost any of them.

2. Find the right products for your online store.

When building your online store, focus on offering a specific product group at first. It’s not a good idea to offer all the items you want to sell right at the beginning. You can create a bestseller list with the products that are doing well in your physical store. Then, you can integrate those products into your online store.

When you create these product listings, I find that including five to six pictures per product is enough. Descriptions should be short, but they also must inform customers about ingredients or material composition.

You can also consider creating a category for new products. Such sections are extremely popular with online shoppers. You can’t go really wrong here. Then, you can add products that are often bought in combination with other products. These items should be linked under the respective product, and you can label that section of the page, “Is often bought with.”

3. Leverage existing customers and attract new customers through promotions.

Of course, your online store needs as many visitors as possible. In the beginning, you can gain them by motivating the customers of your retail store to buy from your online store. To do this, mention your online store on your invoices. Presenting business cards on the counter can also be useful. An elegant and modern solution is a QR code in the store. This code could take your customers directly to your online store.

To increase the number of visitors, you should also use existing customer data from offline retail. You might be able to add this customer data to the store system you chose. You can then use this data to send emails to customers. I recommend combining email marketing with a discount promotion right at the opening of your online store to generate interest. Such discount campaigns are also suitable for event marketing on holidays such as Easter or Christmas.

4. Implement simple payment options.

Today, your customers can pay in a way that is easier than ever before in the history of commerce. Many now prefer to pay with credit or debit cards or by instant bank transfer. You should definitely offer your customers a choice of these different payment methods.

From my perspective, it is better to refrain from offering purchases by invoice when you start your online business. I believe this payment method is not suitable in the beginning, as you have to pay in advance and you risk those customers not paying the invoice.

5. Offer free shipping.

It is a great advantage if you can offer your customers free shipping. Customers usually don’t appreciate being confronted with a higher sum at the end of an order process. You might lose them just before the closing. Free shipping is an important point for sales. To be honest, though, no retailer can actually ship their merchandise for free. After all, the profitability of the business must be maintained. You must therefore calculate the price of your products in such a way that free shipping is possible. Of course, this should be clearly visible in the announcement bar on every page of your online store.

These five tips can make it easy for you to get started in online retailing. Digitization and e-commerce are nothing to be afraid of. The world of the internet expands your possibilities. You might find that it makes your work easier and improves your profit prospects. Remember: You have what it takes to run a successful online business.

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