I guess there are a lot of talks on individuals or small businesses starting their e-commerce ventures, but how about those existing brick & mortars? Locally, you don't see many of those expanding their sales channel via online stores.
Why? "How much I have to invest?", "How to run an online store?", "Do I have to hire people to run it?" are some of the questions being asked, which deserves a separate discussion on another day.
In this episode, let's talk about what brick & mortars will gain by going online.
Extra revenue channel
It's a why-not question. Physical store can only serve customers from a specific geographical location. Online store is available 24x7 to the whole country, and to the whole world.
For example, Bintang Fashion is a franchise retail with 70 outlets in Malaysia. A quick statistics shows that the top 3 states in googling "baju" (clothes in Malay) are from Terengganu, Sabah and Melaka. Guess what, Bintang Fashion doesn't have physical presences in any of the 3 states.
Talking about new market, new customers and extra revenue channel.
Know your customer
Physical business normally doesn't collect customers' details, besides some member loyalty programs. Online store does. Needless to say, you can promote your products according to the demographics of your existing customers.
It's mighty important to maximize your customer's buying experience and make them return. Just have a look at Zappos, 75% of purchases are from returning customers.
Have online presence
No, not the "corporate site". If you are physically selling something, why not start selling some of your products online instead of some boring "about us, contact us" websites? It will be great that some of your potential customers able to have a feel on what kind of products you are offering.
I am sure that many are researching products online, why not facilitating their buying decision and convert them into your customers?
Complement your offline business
Don't worry about online store cannibalizing your existing business, or vice-versa. You are going to get exposure outside of your natural trade area, which can only improve business.
In any multi-channel retail consumer interaction, traffic and sales are being driven from one channel to the other. In "web-to-store" or "store-to-web" situations, the limitations of one channel are mitigated by the strengths of the other.
Excerpts from practical ecommerce.