Many bricks and mortar business owners are worried about losing sales to online shopping. However there are advantages to both online and offline. Here are a few advantages a physical business has and how you can maximise them.
Here in New Zealand recently the government changed the law to try to force overseas companies to pay GST on goods sold in New Zealand.
Retailers and physical businesses based in New Zealand were happy that overseas businesses would have to charge GST. This would make it harder for them to under cut New Zealand businesses.
Fair enough. But it seems to me that a lot of local business people are clinging to an old way of doing business. Much like the record labels and artists in the 90’s and 00’s they aren’t seeing the advantages of new, disruptive technology.
E-commerce is becoming just plain commerce. Customers expect some type of online services from stores. Whether it’s a store’s catalogue online , an order form or a full blown e-commerce solution.
If fact some of the successful online stores are opening bricks and mortar stores. Amazon opened a store in Times Square, New York. Both a physical store and an e-commerce website can work great together.
So the obvious answer is a start an e-commerce website, right?
Not so fast. You might not be ready yet. It helps to have a few things down before you splash your marketing budget on a new e-commerce website.
Here are a few ways that a physical business with an online element can have an advantage over a online only store.
Local businesses should invest in Local SEO. Local SEO is the first few links that show up in Google usually with a map showing search results. Make sure your business is on the Google Business listings.
Facebook pages also link to locations. You can put your location, hours and even get reviews. Facebook has done a lot of work to make having a FaceBook Page more worthwhile for local businesses. You can put special offers online, create events and even sell goods.
Having a decent website and social media presence is a good idea. Both should have the aim of getting people interested enough to come to your store. Store owners complain that people ‘showroom’. That is coming into a store and looking at a product or trying on clothes before buying, sometimes for cheaper, online. Well, it works both ways. Sometimes customers research online and then come into stores to buy.
Then there is actually starting your own e-commerce website. If you are a growing company and need to reach more people it can be a worthwhile investment.
Before starting an e-commerce website you need to spend some time and decide what features you will need and how it will fit into your type of business. Not all e-commerce solutions are created equally. You don’t what to spend money and time on a website that doesn’t fit your needs.
Many people think of the classic, sell / ship physical goods model when thinking of selling online. But there are many different solutions to fit almost any business model. Virtual goods, digital downloads, subscriptions and bookings and appointments for service based businesses.
The future isn’t going to be either offline or online but a mixture of both.
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