Tom Jeffery, head of e-commerce at clothing retailer Jules B, shares their top tips on how independent retailers can take their business to the next level by cracking digital.
In the 21st century, digital dominates so many aspects of our lives that the benefits of establishing a strong online presence are obvious. If you are a successful independent retailer with a thriving bricks-and-mortar shop, setting up an online store is the obvious next step in your business’s development.
The biggest benefit of establishing yourself as a strong competitor online is that the web gives you access to a significantly larger customer base. If business is going well with your physical store, you must be doing plenty right, as it’s almost definitely more convenient for your customers to buy online than from a physical shop, not to mention cheaper. Translate all of the things you’re getting right at your physical locations into an online store and you’re likely to do just as well on a much larger scale. However, this is a lot easier said than done, or everyone would be doing it.
To give yourself any chance of succeeding in the online marketplace, you’re going to need a well-designed and fully functioning website. Take a look at the websites of your competitors — to stand a chance in online in your sector, you’re going to have to make sure that your website is at least as good as, and preferably better, than theirs.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel to get a successful online retail site. Using frameworks such as Shopify and WordPress, and with the help of a good web designer, you can get a website that looks the part up and running in a matter of weeks.
Once your website is live, it’s crucial that you give your online customers the kind of service they’d expect if they came into your physical shop. Make sure your contact details are prominently displayed on every page of your website, and give your customers several ways of getting in touch with you so they go through whichever route they feel most comfortable with. Make sure to answer all of their queries and do everything you can to resolve any problems that come up, and you’re sure to build up a loyal customer base who keep coming back to your online store.
Another big factor in your online success is the brands that you stock. In our experience, being the first to market with a new product can lead to really healthy profits, so you should try to do so whenever you can. It’s also important to strike the right balance between big brand names and niche manufacturers — this balance is different in every case, and you should use the sales data from your physical shop to inform which brands you’re going to stock online.
Lastly, as you’re entering a much bigger pond when you set up in the digital space, it’s crucial that you invest more in marketing than you ever have before in order to be heard through the noise. Start off by using a combination of ads, SEO, content marketing, and social media, and after around 6 months, analyse the data and see which avenue has proven most fruitful for your business. Again, this will be different in every case, so it’s important to invest a fraction of your marketing budget to each, see which works best for you, and then push all of your resources into it. Mobile apps developers can set out a marketing strategy with its mobile app development service.
Keep these tips in mind when you make the leap into the digital space and you’ll give yourself the biggest possible chance of success.