Online retailers have it easy. With dramatically lower costs, they can sell their wares peaceably and turn a healthy profit. Because they aren’t concerned with space upkeep, theft, taxes, and other expensive threats, vendors can even run their online shop passively while actively focusing on other money-making schemes.
However, being an online retailer has its downsides as well. The Internet is becoming incredibly competitive, and even a strong social media presence doesn’t ensure an online vendor’s popularity and success. Plus, even as online shopping continues to grow, it comprises a meager 5.8 percent of all retail sales. That is why dozens of ecommerce giants are making the move to physical locations — and why you should follow their lead.
The in-store shopping experience is one that can’t be replicated on the Web. If you are considering going offline and taking you store on the road, here’s what you need to know.
Have the Right Wares
Not every online business makes sense in an offline shop. Perhaps obviously, offering physical products (like clothing, décor, gadgets, and more) makes for the easiest transition from screen to storefront. Shoppers want to use their senses when they visit stores, and less tantalizingly tangible wares, like event tickets or marketing services, simply don’t offer enough gratification for shoppers to actually visit an in-person location.
Have the Right Locations
Vendors through the ages have understood the importance of location when it comes to making sales. Just as your online store needed a snappy domain name and navigable site, you must set up your physical shop in a place accessible to your target audience.
Many online vendors have found offline success by starting with small stalls at local arts and crafts fairs. Fairs such as these are exceedingly welcoming to creators looking to peddle their wares in person for the first time. Usually, visitors to the fare are looking for new shops with products unlike those currently available in stores, and most are eager to support creative designers. Still, there are dos and don’ts to make your craft fair experience even more profitable; for example:
- Small fairs are cheaper, but more expensive fairs are usually higher quality and will give you access to a larger audience.
- You should strive to set up in high-traffic areas, especially near the entrance where visitors have fresh eyes and full energy.
- Your booth should be clean and eye-catching, and your products should be clearly visible to passers-by.
With enough success on the fair circuit, you may find local businesses developing an interest in showcasing your wares. Selling your products to established brick-and-mortar merchants is an easy way to make money while focusing on the creation of your products. Eventually, you may be motivated to open your own establishment — but that experience requires an article of its own.
Have the Right Tools
There are dozens of ways online retailers can collect payments, but none of them require you to own a cash register. Now that you are directly receiving money from your customers, you must consider more closely how you will accept and manage various payment forms.
Specific tools are required for different compensation methods. For example, if you are willing to take cash, you will need a secure place to store the money until you can make a trip to the bank. Card transactions are perhaps easier to organize, but many consumers are wary of giving personal information to unknown vendors. You can put them at ease by using a reliable credit card reader backed by the PCI DSS.
Have the Right Attitude
Customer services is an integral element of any business, but having pleasant interactions with customers is far more important in person than it is over the Web. When confronted with a flesh-and-blood person, customers require more helpfulness and friendliness than they do online, and neglecting their needs in any way is asking for a poor reputation. You should always strive to make your customers feel appreciated, whether that is by listening thoughtfully to their inane stories or apologizing thoroughly when something goes wrong.
If your brick-and-mortar becomes more successful, the tenets of proper attitude should be ingrained in your employees, as well. Good customer service is inarguably the most powerful tool you have to generate a loyal audience in your online and offline stores.