It’s great that you’ve found success selling retail in your massage studio. At this point, you might even have your own line of branded products. The next step toward growing your business is launching your online store.
Adapt or Be Left Behind
With the landscape of brick-and-mortar retail ever changing and giving way to a future of online shopping, now, more than ever, it’s important for small businesses to adapt to change or be left behind.
According to Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 70 percent of all shoppers surveyed browsed products online before purchasing them in-store. You’ve heard of the aged concept of showrooming; well, this is a concept known as Web-rooming.
As a retailer, how can you ever expect to expand your market reach if your customers and prospects can’t find you online?
If you think about it, consider all the limitations your shop can now exceed: An online store will improve your revenue, save on operating expenses, continue to make sales after hours, reach customers beyond your locality, utilize niche social media and online marketing to generate buzz, and garner publicity.
All of these are valid reasons for choosing to sell your products online, and if you give it a few moments, I’m sure you can easily think of a few more.
Selling Online is Easy
Is offering products for sale online difficult? Not really.
In fact, with online retail platforms like Shopify.com, Bigcommerce.com, EarthSkater.com and many others now available, selling your products online is easier than ever before.
How does it work? Basically, an e-commerce platform is an all-in-one solution for retailers. It includes a customized online storefront and secure shopping cart. Online retail platforms are simple and easy to use, with no computer coding required, and to start you can try most of them free for 14 days.
You can showcase your products online, how you choose. Sell one product or 1,000. Accept orders almost instantaneously from any device.
Get notified by email or mobile device when you have a new sale, and fulfill one or multiple orders with just one click.
E-commerce platforms support global merchant payment services—everything from debit cards to credit cards to PayPal—and allow your business to accept payments quickly, securely and with ease.
Tax and Shipping
If you’re new to online retail and e-commerce, or not used to selling your products nationally, or even internationally, you probably have a lot of questions related to how tax rates and shipping costs are factored in.
Now with most online e-commerce platforms, you can accept any type of currency with a built-in currency converter, and have tax calculated automatically based on your customer’s location.
When it comes to shipping costs, you have the option of setting up shipping rates by fixed price, tiered pricing, weight, category, quantity or location. Customized shipping rates allow for optimization of cost and eliminate overcharging and overpayments.
The next thing you’re probably wondering about is customer service. “OK, I’ve started my online store, but now what happens if someone has a problem? How does customer support work? For customers? For myself?”
Reputable online e-commerce sites offer 24/7 support for online retailers. In addition to phone and email support, there are numerous help forums and frequently asked questions available.
As for customers, publish your own comprehensive help section, provide a contact form, and if you have the resources, your own live chat support is only an app away.
SEO & Online Marketing
Now that your store is online, how do you market and advertise it?
With the resources available online today from both retail platforms (including Google Analytics) and marketing firms, search engine optimization (SEO) and directing traffic to your website is easier than ever.
According to researchfrom Retailing Today, 60 percent of consumers begin researching products with an online search. This means you want your website to appear in search engine results. Online retail platforms allow you to increase this potential using customizable headlines, titles and meta-tags, as well as having experts you can hire on standby to assist in the same way.
Also according to Retailing Today, 61 percent of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase. Why not consider adding an SEO-friendly product-review page to increase sales?
With mobile now accounting for more than 40 percent of all visits to e-commerce sites, according to research and branding firm monetate, you should make sure your online store will be mobile-friendly.
Since email marketing accounted for 20 percent of all online e-commerce orders as of Nov. 2015,according to E-Commerce Pulse, ranking only behind search engines, email may be the first marketing channel you wish to explore after SEO.
Offer free gifts and incentives to build your mailing lists. Hire an expert or do it yourself. Create and utilize current marketing trends such as video campaigns. Be creative. Want the best professional advice? Subscribe to an online marketing blog.
Integrate your online store with social media with built-in integration from e-commerce platforms. Use Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr in your marketing endeavors. Build a following of your most loyal customers, who will automatically get new photos and videos in their news feed every time you post.
Get to Selling
Of course, the world of online marketing is much too complex to encompass everything in such a condensed article, but we’re hoping this at least gives you a place to start. Now, go to Google and put in the words learn about e-commerce to take your training to the next level. Happy selling!
About the Author:
James Corr is a growth consultant with Only Growth marketing firm, based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He wrote this article on behalf of Shopify.