If you want to take your physical store online, there’s never been a better time than now. Presently, there’s an abundance of ready-to-use, geographically targeted tools to address any business need. But while you no longer need to second guess your e-commerce options, you still need to plan your online transition carefully. Here are nine considerations to take into account when you’re planning to take your business to the internet.
1) Choose a Well-Known E-commerce Platform
Creating a custom website that offers unusual experiences sounds great on paper. In practice, however, doing this usually offers limited benefits compared to the effort your team needs to put in. In most cases, it’s better to stick with popular platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, given their robust support systems, massive plugin libraries, and user-friendly interfaces. Using these platforms will also enable your site to use the best online payment processing solutions for your target markets, ensuring the success of your new sales channel.
2) Set Up Locally Relevant Payment Processing Systems
Credit cards and wire transfers are now the dominant payment methods for international e-commerce .However, this isn’t the case for certain markets such as the Philippines. For online payment, Philippines-based customers are far more likely to use digital wallets and QR codes. If you choose WooCommerce or Shopify for your e-commerce platform, solving this issue will be as easy as downloading and installing the right plugins.
In the Philippine market, Maya Business has emerged as the most recommended online payment processing service for e-commerce applications. In particular, the Maya Plugins for Shopify and WooCommerce websites have become highly popular with physical businesses that want to build serious e-commerce channels out of their business websites.
However, if you plan to primarily operate out of social media platforms you will need to use other tools to facilitate payments. Solutions like Maya Invoice Payments and Payment Links are specially designed to fill this need by allowing customers to pay through a variety of locally popular methods through messaging apps or email links.
3) Keep Your Offline and Online Branding Consistent
The overall experience of your physical stores should be congruent with the experience you deliver on the internet. When expanding your operations online, all your critical offline brand elements such as your logos, typography, and color schemes must make a well-planned transition into the digital sphere. Maintaining consistency in branding and customer experience between your physical and online stores will help build trust and recognition, allowing you to tap into your existing brand equity and aiding the success of your online expansion.
4) Invest in Professional Web Design and Development
To build e-commerce systems that are sensitive to your business’s customer experience and branding requirements, you need experienced web designers and developers. Many businesses make the mistake of cutting costs in web design and development. However, making the same mistake of unnecessarily compromising the look and functionality of your site can seriously harm your business in the long run.
For the easiest transitions, seek the help of full-service agencies with a client portfolio that broadly matches your own niche and industry.
5) Update and Unify Your Inventory Management
Real-time inventory management is nice to have when you only have a brick-and-mortar store, but it becomes critical when you run both physical and online sales channels. Implementing an integrated stock monitoring system that syncs with your inventory will prevent overselling or stockouts, preventing negative customer experiences and enabling you to make better ordering decisions. Make sure to train your employees in your new system so that the real status of your inventory is visible to you at all times.
6) Offer Efficient Shipping and Fulfillment
Providing a range of shipping options will help you cater to different customer needs. While some customers are fine with waiting a few days for their purchases, many others are willing to pay extra for speedier deliveries. Partnering with good delivery services should help you facilitate prompt delivery, allowing you to earn repeat business from demanding customers.
7) Establish Clear Return and Refund Policies
Transparent return and refund policies are essential for online shoppers. Thus, make sure to create clear and fair policies and communicate them to customers. Handling returns and refunds professionally can lead to customer satisfaction and loyalty.
8) Try a Variety of Online Marketing Strategies
Using the right kinds of digital marketing will attract online customers and help reduce the cost of facilitating each sale. Be sure to explore proven methods such as ad-driven PR distribution, search engine optimization, search engine and social media ads, and email marketing. You can also leverage your physical store to advertise your e-commerce site to customers for a powerful omnichannel approach.
9) Train Your Staff on Your New Online Operations
A knowledgeable team at your physical store can provide better support to online customers and streamline your e-commerce processes. Make sure that your in-store staff is properly trained to assist customers who want to buy from your e-commerce channels.
There doesn’t have to be a sharp dichotomy between online and offline businesses. In fact, having both brick-and-mortar and online sales channels can be beneficial. Having online operations can give your business a wider reach and maintaining your physical stores can help you maintain a more intimate customer experience.
Regardless of whether you’re expanding your physical store into an omnichannel business or fully transitioning into an online operation, building an e-commerce store requires careful planning and execution. By taking the nine factors we’ve outlined into account, you can steer your online expansion effectively and position your business for success online.