In the modern information age, it seems as if anyone can start an online store. Everyone knows that if you want to sell cookies online, it doesn’t take very long to go from having no online presence to establishing a website fully capable of taking orders – heck, if it takes you longer than “overnight,” you’re doing something wrong…right? But making retail online stores successful sometimes isn’t as simple as all that.
Retail online stores aren’t as simple as all that…
What many people forget is that online stores are just that – stores. They are businesses with complications and challenges just like any other business. If you want to establish an online store that makes big-time sales, you’re going to have to have big-time solutions and strategies. Let’s look at five similarities between retail and online stores you need to know before you start your newest endeavor.
1. Your store is subject to basic economics.
Yes, it’s great that you can set up an eCommerce site so quickly nowadays, but the old rule of “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply. That’s because your store is also subject to the basic rules of business and economics. You need a strong demand for what you’re offering. If no one wants to buy what you’re selling, then you’re not going to make very many sales. That’s why it pays to do your due diligence and research before you ever get off the ground officially and make sure you know that there’s a market out there for what you want to sell.
2. There will be hidden costs.
It might be advertised that you can have an eCommerce site up and running for maybe a hundred dollars per month, but don’t forget about the hidden costs that come with running a business. Having a custom-made logo created, for example, is usually not something that comes with the online options available to you. Other costs – shipping, transaction fees, etc. – are simply part of doing business online, and you’ll need to factor them into your overall business plan.
3. International shipping is always hard.
Getting visitors from overseas to visit your site isn’t too difficult thanks to the Internet, but that doesn’t mean that shipping your products will suddenly be easy. In fact, it may be a lot harder than you anticipated – and all the while you have to make sure that you keep all of your customers happy. If you plan to ship overseas, due your due diligence on what will be required for your particular products. Also, keep in mind that high international shipping costs will either increase the price for oversea’s buyers or will burn up your profit margin.
4. Making a sale is hard.
You might be surprised at just how hard it can be to get a new visitor to your site trust you enough and want what you offer enough to click “purchase now.” Making a sale requires a synergy of elements at your store, just as it would any other store. You will need expertise and hard work to get your website to the point where it actually converts visitors into sales.
5. You don’t sell in a bubble.
A grocery store has to compete with other grocery stores down the street. On the Internet, you have to compete with everyone else in your market. That means you don’t sell in a bubble, but instead a real, active, and vibrant marketplace where customers have lots of options. What separates your store from the crowd? Once you figure out what separates you, you need to find an effective way to communicate that to your prospects.