As a local store, what do I need to know to start selling online?
We know that having an online presence and selling online is vital for businesses who want to thrive. Especially against the backdrop of increasing sentiment toward shopping online and restrictions surrounding shopping in person. There were 5.9 million SME businesses in the UK in 2019. 96% of all UK businesses were classified as micro businesses with 0-9 employees. The competition is real.
When it comes to selling online, are you left at a loss as to where to even begin? Learn how to get ahead of the competition with an online offering that can take your business into the homes of potential customers all over the country.
Take a look with us at how you can actually take your offering online, how to organise and categorise your products and services to be sellable online and how to promote your online shop.
How can You Take your Offering Online?
Taking your business online doesn’t always mean creating an e-commerce website. The first step you need to take is to decide your route to getting online.
You might not be at a stage to launch a website that you can sell through just yet. Take the first step by creating a brochure-style website that shares information about your business, communicates your offering with potential customers and directs them to getting in touch with you in some other way instead.
Perhaps you sell bespoke, custom made kitchen units and you’ve not created any standardised offering. Create a simple portfolio website as a fantastic way to reach new audiences and showcase past work. Instead of the call-to-action being an online sale, for this site, you might be encouraging visitors to get in touch through the contact form, or to book a free consultation.
Last year when businesses were closed, a local horticultural charity faced a potentially disastrous end to the stock they use to raise funds for their cause; having to close meant much of their produce might end up going bad and being destroyed because they couldn’t sell it. With a very limited budget to work with, their local Nettl team decided to add a contact form to their website through which customers could organise to place orders. The new functionality was launched within 3 weeks and resulted in £15,500 worth of stock being sold in their first few days. Raising crucial funds for the charity and avoiding their valuable stock going to waste.
Third Party Selling Platforms
Selling platforms like etsy and ebay can be a great short-term solution to trialling online sales. Use your brochure-style website in conjunction with your external selling platform to trial online sales, market your offering and build a customer base.
Sell Online with an E-commerce Website
Take control of your online shop by upgrading your existing website or launching a new e-commerce website with the help of your local Nettl studio. Selling through your own website offers a seamless customer journey from site visit to sale. You can run sales reports, manage stock and send automated notifications through your e-commerce website.
Reach out to your local Nettl studio to help you mould this online store to be as personal to you as your own bricks-and-mortar store or at-home studio or meeting space. From creating coupons for seasonal sales and promotions, to varying delivery options or adding new products. Building an e-commerce site for your business puts you in the driver seat. Enabling you to continuously grow your business with flexibility and minimal ongoing costs.
Creating a Successful E-commerce Store
Successfully selling online is hugely dependent on the customer’s buying journey. Work to remove any barriers to trade by making your website design and offering intuitive and easy to follow.
Productise & Categorise your Offline Offering
What are you actually selling? Just because you don’t sell products doesn’t mean you can’t sell online. As a restaurant you can sell vouchers. A consultant can sell appointments at a set cost per hour. Trainers and coaches can sell access to training sessions or downloadable PDFs.
Make the customer’s journey easier and more intuitive by categorising products. Rather than a visitor trawling through a list as long as their arm, split them up. Research other industry websites for ideas or think about how you arrange products in-store. A restaurant group might have vouchers available according to each restaurant. Jewellery stores might categorise according to rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Clothing according to brand and type. This helps to take the thinking out of the customer’s buying journey.
Shipping & Delivery of Online Sales
An often overlooked but crucial part of your online store – how will it be received? Depending on your product it may be delivered as a link or via email if it’s a downloadable PDF or invitation to an event. If you’re selling a product you’ll need to think;
- Distance – are you serving a local, national or international audience? Do you offer Click & Collect to serve local audiences?
- Product – what is the product and how does that impact delivery? Is it perishable and therefore should be refrigerated, is it highly valuable and therefore insured?
- Cost – How will you be paying for the delivery and therefore, how should you charge for it? This could be a fixed rate per product, a variable rate per weight, free delivery over a certain amount.
Include a gift and a thank you note Stand out from the crowd by including a thank you note, referral promotion, badges and stickers or instructions for use with your delivery. Outline your returns policy on a leaflet within the delivery or include a link to it on your thank you note.
Design & Content on your E-commerce Website
Create a truly cohesive customer journey from high-street store to online shop by reflecting your branding throughout. Team up with your local Nettl to identify what it is about your brand that makes your business who it is. Connect colour schemes, tone of voice and values within your website through design and content. As we’ve said, a successful e-commerce site is one that’s easy to navigate and simple to use; bear this in mind when designing your site. Opt for simplicity and usability.
The epicentre of an e-commerce site is the product; more often than not, that is where we want the attention to go. Prioritise product imagery that reflects your brand and offering accurately. Invest time and effort in product descriptions that are on brand, accurate and exciting!
Importance of Customer Experience when Selling Online
This online platform is an extension of your offline offering. Ensure that your customer has the best experience possible. Small changes and nice touches can be the driver behind referrals and repeat customers. Review the moments of truth in your customers’ journeys and identify improvements online and offline.
Pay particular attention to the moment of truth gap; the time between a customer placing an order and receiving the product. Dominos shares an interactive progress update (pizza tracker app) with their customers to bridge this gap. Perhaps you could share a ‘how-to’ guide or relevant blog with your customer while they await their delivery.
How do I Promote my Online Shop?
Below we’ve included a collection of ideas across digital and traditional marketing for you to implement when promoting your online store.
Start selling online today! Takeaways:
- Decide how your going to take your offering online
- Productise and Categorise
- Design & Content
- Customer Experience
- Marketing plan;
- Grab your free Social Media planner
- Request a free SEO & PPC audit and proposal
- List your site online in directories and your local support site
- Grow your local presence
- Become famous locally
- Share details of your new site with your networking group and support site to include in newsletters
- Plan an email campaign with your local studio
- Create something tangible your local neighbourhood cannot ignore
- Deliver postcards, vouchers and referral schemes straight to people’s letterboxes