Running a retail business is tough these days. There is so much competition from the online world that it’s a struggle to get customers. That’s why a lot of companies take their physical retail business and open an online branch as well. It’s a good way to increase your revenue streams and make the business more secure so you can carry on operating your physical shop at the same time. However, the world of online retail is very different from running a shop and if you get the transition wrong, you could end up failing on both counts. To stop that from happening, read these handy tips on taking your retail business online.
Chances are, you’re probably using a card machine and till system to take payments in your shop. When you move online, you’ll need a system to take card payments on there as well. Having two payment systems isn’t the end of the world but it’s a lot easier if you can roll it all into one. There are some great mobile POS services out there that let you take payments using your phone as a card reader in the shop. But the best thing is, you can take online payments using the same service so you’ve got everything in one place. That’ll make it a lot easier to keep track of your finances which is always important.
Your website essentially performs the same function as your shop window so you need to make sure that you get it absolutely perfect. Customers will only stay on a site for a couple of minutes before getting bored if they can’t find exactly what they need. What it looks like is important but don’t sacrifice usability for style. Always make sure that it’s easy to use and the search functions work well so people can find exactly what they’re looking for in seconds.
When you leave your shop at night, you’ll lock the doors behind you. Security is just as important, if not more so, in the online world. If your shop is broken into, you’ll lose a lot of stock. If your website is hacked, you could potentially lose the credit card information of your customers. That’s incredibly hard to come back from so make sure you’re taking the necessary steps to keep your website secure at all times. Don’t try to save money by cutting corners, it’ll come back to bite you in the end.
Customers are always going to shop around to find the best deal. That means they might come into your shop and look at the prices and then go to a couple of other local stores to see the difference in price. But online, they can go to literally thousands of other websites and compare prices. If you just use the same prices online as you do in your store, you’re probably not going to be competitive. When you’re pricing your products, have a look at a load of other websites and make sure that you can at least match them, if not undercut them.
It’s not a simple case of starting a website and uploading your products, you need to consider the transition and the differences between online and offline retail if you’re going to succeed.
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Walter G. is a software engineer, startup co-founder, former CTO of several tech companies and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He has been blogging for the past 5 years and is an avid BMX rider, bio-hacker
and performance enthusiast.