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How Can Brick-And-Mortar Businesses Expand With E-Commerce Development?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the importance of e-commerce development for brick-and-mortar businesses. While having a physical store can be a big part of a multi-channel approach, failing to go online in the digital age can be the biggest mistake you can make for your business. With e-commerce, you can reach out to a wider range of customers than ever before, significantly widening your geographical net, as well as keep your business afloat during unpredictable times.

Businesses who are starting out with e-commerce may feel daunted by the whole onboarding process, but the truth is that many online platforms have made it increasingly easy to get started. From Shopify to Magento, it’s simply a matter of choosing one that meets your needs. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how your business can make the transition from a brick-and-mortar store to an e-commerce website.

 

Setting Up

Choosing a platform that suits your budget and management needs is just one part of the process. Setting up an e-commerce store involves numerous steps that are outlined below:

·  Choosing inventory: If your business has a large inventory, you may wonder how long it will take you to get everything online. The truth is that you do not have to do it all at once. You can launch your e-commerce store with 20% to 30% of your inventory, slowly adding to it over time. In fact, that may be a better strategy as it allows you to figure out what your customers like before adding more products.

·  Budgeting: When your business goes online, you will incur additional costs such as monthly platform fees, digital marketing fees, and shipping fees before starting to turn a profit. You will need to make sure that you have allocated some room in your budget to cover these costs.

·  Payment gateways: Another important thing you will need to consider is how you will collect payments from customers. Thankfully, many e-commerce platforms today feature payment gateways that enable you to get started immediately.

Once you have launched your e-commerce store, you will quickly start to notice the benefits. For one thing, unlike brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce stores are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. More importantly, you can now target customers from within a wider geographical circle. An e-commerce presence also enables you to analyze customer behavior and carry out retargeting campaigns to increase conversion rates and encourage repeat purchases.

 

Shipping and Fulfillment

If you are used to managing a brick-and-mortar store, going online comes with a whole new ball game: shipping and fulfillment. You will need to get a system up and running as soon as you have launched your e-commerce store so that any shipping delays are prevented. You have two main choices when it comes to shipping and fulfillment: handle it yourself or outsource to a fulfillment service. While the former may be doable when you are first starting out and leave room for a larger profit margin, you will find that outsourcing can be more efficient when your business grows. You may even choose to start out by handling shipping in-house before slowly outsourcing these efforts. Whichever you choose, it is important to ensure that your shipping provider integrates with your e-commerce platform. 

 

Digital Marketing

Now that you have set up your store and sorted out shipping and fulfillment, it’s time to get the word out. With e-commerce stores, there’s little to no chance that customers will just “stumble upon” your store on a day out without any effort on your part. Hence, you will have to be active about making your online presence known. Chances are some part of your existing marketing strategy can be put to use. Do you already have a social media page for your brick-and-mortar store? If so, that’s a good place to start. Get the word out on platforms where your customers congregate. You can entice customers to make a purchase by offering an opening discount.

You will also want to explore other avenues of online marketing, such as SEO and PPC. PPC ads can help to generate a large number of leads within a short turnaround time, whereas SEO focuses on generating sustainable, long-term leads over time. However, the hard work doesn’t stop once you have launched these campaigns; you need to monitor them over time in order to find out what’s working and what’s not. To this end, many businesses prefer to outsource their marketing efforts to a digital marketing agency.

 

Customer Service

The good news is that most of the customer service skills your employees are trained in are applicable to e-commerce. However, you will now be operating within entirely different parameters. Most e-commerce businesses handle their customer service processes through a combination of email, text messaging, and live chat. You may decide to focus on one first before expanding your efforts, but keep in mind that different customers will have different needs and it’s in your best interests to cater to a diverse clientele.

One thing you can do beforehand is to anticipate common questions and concerns ahead of time and train your employees on handling them. Although it may not be possible to anticipate every problem out there, it’s a learning process and your employees will be well equipped to spot trends and devise better customer service strategies down the line.

 

Work with A Professional E-Commerce Developer Today

Understandably, the process of onboarding your business with e-commerce can be daunting and time-consuming. You may not have this time to spare, what with your brick-and-mortar business to run on the side and other pressing matters to attend to. That is why many businesses choose to work with professional e-commerce developers. Not only are they freeing up precious time to attend to other aspects of business, professional e-commerce developers bring many years of expertise and experience to the table. Having helped a wide range of businesses across various industries with their online presences, these professionals can work with you to build an online store that meets all your needs and expectations.