Thinking of online and offline sales as two separate worlds is now an outdated concept. These two channels need to be integrated and can strengthen each other. For this reason, if you have a physical store you should consider the possibility of building also an ecommerce.
To take this step, however, a perfect marketing strategy is required because platform and logistics management is required. It’s not easy to start and run an e-commerce, but if it’s done right it can increase the store’s revenue and help it react to the dominance of shopping malls and online retail giants like Amazon.
Why open an e-commerce if you already have a store
Having already a physical store does not prevent you from opening an e-commerce and starting to sell online; on the contrary, it is a great strength. With a business already launched and a loyal customer base, there is a good starting point to sell online as well. The first advantage is that customers are offered an additional opportunity to buy, so they are less likely to turn elsewhere. The second is that this customer base can be expanded, with people who would otherwise have been unattainable.
Online and offline sales are connected. Think of all those people who search online and then go to buy in store (those who deal with fashion know well what I’m talking about). With an e-commerce we can be found by those who are looking for a product and then give them freedom on where to buy. Indirectly, this sales channel can increase in-store sales even if the store is not located in a large mall or in a central street.
With ecommerce we can sell more, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, everywhere. Some products, tricky to sell to our regular customers, can be sold more easily online by targeting an audience that did not know us before. E-commerce, in addition to the physical store, is therefore a great tool to increase our business and overcome the difficulties we face offline.
First steps to start an e-commerce
It all starts with the marketing strategy. Before we begin, we need to give the picture of the current situation: store strengths and weaknesses. At this point you need to decide what to sell online: all the products available in store, only a part of these or items that you can’t even find in the store? There are many possibilities: you have to decide how to proceed and build a strong strategy based on these choices.
Obviously you need to register your domain and build the e-commerce website that best suits our needs. Website structure is very important: it must be an effective compromise between the mood of the store and the technical and marketing needs with a view to visibility and usability.
The third aspect to consider before opening an e-commerce is that related to the resources used. As we’ll see in detail in the next few paragraphs, it takes investment, time and people to move forward with all aspects of advertising and managing online sales.
How to manage an e-commerce and let it grow
For the online sales management and the advertising of e-commerce, you have to consider different activities and people who devote part of their time to them. Let’s see the main ones.
Product uploading and warehouse management
We have to upload new products to the online catalog and manage the warehouse: availabilites, orders, shipments and any returns, offers and promotions, photos and descriptions. It is recommended that someone who is in charge of sales should do this job, but we must consider that they will have less time to do their main job. In addition, this person will need to have at least basic knowledge about Seo and communication in order to gain maximum visibility. For this reason, it is advisable to train or to be supported by a specialized professional.
A warehouse is required to store products for sale and this is one of the advantages of selling online for those who already have a physical store. However, we need to consider the packaging and shipping of orders: more time to devote in the face of increased sales.
Advertising and communication
An e-commerce must be found online. Advertising and communication are the best channels to reach new customers. Managing social media (Facebook, Instagram) may seem very simple, but, as a matter of fact, you have to know in depth how they work in the professional field. In a small reality it is enough to entrust the communication to the smartest person of the staff, but it is always recommended the assistance of a professional to help read the data and improve the communication plan. There is also to consider advertising that can bring great results,but it is not easy to manage alone.
Customer relationship management
Customers are the biggest asset for an ecommerce. Nurturing and cuddling them is the job of the CRM manager. Even this role can be played by store clerks who are already in offline customer relationship management. Online they have extra tools, but they are also in a new context: with a training by a professional, they can become even better and retain customers.
Technical e-commerce website management
Any website needs periodic maintenance to stay up to date. In the case of an ecommerce, this aspect is even more important because of its complexity. This work must be done by a professional who must be able to optimize the website in a Seo perspective, or who must be supported by those who know how to do it.
How many people do you need to run an ecommerce
We have seen that running an ecommerce requires several different activities. Usually a large company has specialized figures who deal exclusively with every single aspect and are sometimes dedicated to specific categories. For a small store,commercial activities, product uploading, logistics and social posting can be carried out by internal staff. However, itis strongly recommended the advise by professionals who deal with website management, advertising, Seo optimization for Google and search engines and with the finding new channels of online sales and visibility.
What is the cost of an e-commerce site?
There is not a fair cost for an ecommerce site. There are many variables: from size to complexity of the website. Before we begin, we need to consider the costs of building the website and training the internal staff who will be involved in the management.
Once started, we will have to take into account the maintenance costs, the marketing counseling that allows e-commerce to reach customers and the time spent by internal resources for commercial and logistical aspects.
Is it worth opening an e-commerce?
Opening an ecommerce doesn’t always pay off. Dedication and commitment are required to achieve results. We have seen what are the advantages of an e-commerce for a physical store: it is undeniable that, if carried out in the right way, can really increase sales. Sometimes though, a simpler showcase site may be the best choice for a store. The advice is to consult an honest professional to guide you towards the best marketing and communication strategy.
Who to turn to to open an e-commerce
There are several professionals and agencies that can guide the owner of a store in the opening of an e-commerce, in the realization of the site and in communication. I advise against DIY e-commerce services or those that promise a free website: often you encounter solutions that don’t work or at higher expense.
Since realization of the e-commerce site, marketing, communication and advertising are related aspects, entrust to those who can help you in all these aspects. If you have questions about this or are considering opening an ecommerce for your store, write to me from the contact page and tell me your idea.