Many companies throughout the United States, both large and small, are finding themselves having to develop and implement new protocols, such as taking their brick and mortar wares online as a method of avoiding employee and customer exposure to COVID-19. For large corporations this task is easily manageable, but it can be perplexing for the average small business looking into transitioning their business from an in-store experience to an online one.
Baker Street has launched multiple online stores, and we wanted to share our knowledge with you to make the task of selling online less daunting.
First off, we would like you to begin framing the process in your mind as one where you can personally interact with someone much like you can in-store. Options like video chat and text chat allow you to communicate in real time with your customers. Consider offering telephone services to build connections, as well. Begin thinking of it as personal yet at a distance.
One of the more popular and user-friendly options is Shopify. This platform allows you to have multiple views of your products, including video. Also included are inventory management functions and social media integrations that let you push your Shopify store straight to Facebook where users can buy directly through your Facebook store. You can even build customer email lists and take advantage of integrate shipping and payment options.
Side note: Tesla’s website is a Shopify site.
Another easy to use program is Squarespace. Much like Shopify, users can see multiple views of your products to make a more informed buying decision. Squarespace isn’t exactly an E-Commerce dedicated system but more of an all-round website builder.
Volusion is a lesser known option but still very powerful, and they also offer a free trial. With responsive themes and a comprehensive site builder, you can create a unique store — without code — in minutes. Volusion also features built-in SEO tools, discount manager and access to Google Analytics. If you’re a hands-on and slightly techy store owner, you will really enjoy Volusion.
Much like your brick and mortar store, you need to advertise your online presence to attract customers.
Google Ads are useful if you have products that people search for by name like Men’s Trousers or Women’s Hiking Shoes. This type of online advertising is called Search Engine Marketing or Pay Per Click (PPC). The only time you are charged is when someone clicks your ad. There is no charge if your ad is shown, only when clicked. The value of Google Ads lies not only in that you are being seen when someone is actively shopping, but also in the ability to analyze which keywords are the most relevant for your business overall.
Google Remarketing is a tool that places a cookie on someone’s browser if they visit your website. Then when they navigate away from your site, your ad follows them for a time as they browse elsewhere. Some people may think this is creepy, but it is useful when limited to say a 3-5 day period. It is especially useful when users add products to their cart, but then leave the site and forget about the items they had wanted.
Social Media Marketing is very useful for passive engagement or sales announcements, and this platform ads on that by allowing you to grow mailing lists and utilize other forms of personal marketing. It’s a handy system because almost everyone understands how it works. Additionally, as a Facebook advertiser you have a back-end resource called Facebook Business Manger that shares volumes of info on how to target customers and provides incredible analytics.
Mailchimp allows you to automate your marketing. Their pre-built, customizable email automations make it easy to connect with the right person at the right moment—without doing the work every time. Mailchimp makes it easy to make a connection with your customers and keep your brand top of mind with welcome automations, happy birthday messages, and order notifications.
Online shoppers are very influenced by reviews, so it’s imperative that you ask for them from satisfied customers. First time buyers regularly say reviews heavily persuade them to try a new store. Two of the most popular review sites are Yelp and Google Reviews, and you should monitor these from time to time to thank positive reviewers and address the concerns of negative ones.
Yelp includes User Reviews and Recommendations of Best Restaurants, Shopping, Nightlife, Food, Entertainment, Things to Do, Services, and More. Most importantly, Yelp reviews show up on search engines when someone Googles your business by name.
Reviews on Google provide valuable information about your business to both you and your customers. Business reviews appear next to your listing in Maps and Search and can help your business stand out on Google.
You can request reviews from customers through a short URL that’s specific to your business. To get reviews on Google, encourage your customers to spread the word about your business by following these best practices:
At first, it may seem too difficult to make the switch from your traditional way of doing business to all-in online. But if you view it from the frame of mind we began with and utilize the powerful tools at your disposal you can make it work. It’s simply a different way of doing things that offers the same ability to provide superior customer service and engagement. We wish you prosperity and a bright future online!