The way we shop has changed. More and more people are moving online to make their purchases and keep up with demand, businesses are transitioning from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce.
With foot traffic dropping, keeping a physical store open may become too costly for businesses, which is why the digital transformation is allowing businesses to not only stay open but thrive as well!
So if you, like many businesses are looking to make the move into the digital age, we’re here to help! There are a lot of things to consider, and it’s not easy to know where to start. This is why we’ve put together a quick guide with everything you need to know to start your eCommerce business.
Here is our guide on how to prepare your business for a switch from brick-to-mortar to eCommerce.
Establish your digital footprint
To be successful in eCommerce, you need to establish an online presence. You won’t be able to conduct any business if your customers can’t find you online. The first step is a two-fold process: Building an eCommerce website and establishing a social media presence. The reason you need to do this at the same time is that building your website takes time. However, this doesn’t mean you have to wait to let people know it’s on the way!
As you develop your website, build an audience on social media on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Tease your followers with your upcoming site launch, so when the day comes when the website arrives, they’ll be ready and waiting to make their first purchase! Setting up and running your social platforms is quick and easy.
When building your website, you need to make sure you have the following components as a minimum:
- An eCommerce page that lists all of your products and any relevant information your customers may need to know about them. Includes images wherever possible.
- A secure method for taking payments.
- A contact page, for any issues, comments, returns, or complaints.
- A strong home page and an informative ‘about’ page for new customers unfamiliar with your brand.
This will be the platform for your marketing moving forward. Once your website is live and your social channels are active, use these platforms to begin to grow your business.
Share offers on your social channels as well as product information and any relevant content you think will give value to your customers.
Run ads online to drive new customers to your eCommerce site. People will no longer be walking past your shop front, so you need to catch their eyes in new ways. Make use of social media adverts as well. This will not only drive people to your pages but hopefully to your website as well.
All of these methods will grow awareness of your business, which will ultimately lead to more new and repeat customers.
Stock, shipping and fulfilment
Now that you’ve set your website, you need to ensure that you can fulfil and deliver all orders to customers. There are two main areas of focus here are Stock and Shipping and Fulfillment.
Stock: You need to have enough products to fulfil orders. Just like in a store, if you don’t have what a customer is looking for, they will take their business somewhere else. If you’re abandoning your physical store/stores completely, then you need to organise a new location for your stock and products to be stored in.
How you go about this will depend on the decision you make in the next step.
Shipping and Fulfillment: If you are new to the eCommerce space, this will be one of the biggest adjustments to your business. Packaging and delivering orders on time will be crucial for your success in this area. Your main decision will be whether you handle this process yourself or if you outsource this to a specialised shipping and fulfilment company.
For smaller businesses just starting out, doing yourself this can save you a lot of money, but it can be time-consuming and must be done correctly. Outsourcing will cost more but will allow you to scale quicker and more efficiently.
Ultimately, you want to ensure customers are getting the correct order within a timely fashion. Customer expectations for deliveries are at an all-time high, so make sure you can measure up.
Adapt your service to match your business
One thing that won’t change is the importance of customer service to your business. However, what will change in this area is the questions you will receive and how you go about addressing them.
Brainstorm with your team as many customer questions as possible that you can expect to receive regarding your new way of doing business. Then, create an FAQ page on your site, addressing as many of these questions as possible. This will not only save you time but money as well, as this page will perform the function of a staff member.
The next step is to establish a means of contact for customers. Some options are a customer email address, a direct phone line, or a live chat function on your website. You can have multiple channels if you wish, but remember; customers expect fast and efficient service. Make sure you can deliver this to them.
Then, train your staff to handle the specific complaints and issues you anticipate receiving. One of the most common issues you will face is product returns and refunds. Have a clear policy and handling procedure for these issues in place.
Moving your business from a store onto a digital platform can seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to this transition as smoothly as possible. Remember to be patient and give you and your staff enough time to set everything up correctly. This is the best way to limit issues you may encounter later down the line.
Need a hand making the transition? Reach out to Zudu today on 01382 690080.