Pratikkumar P. Gaikwad | 10 min read | Sep 15, 2020
With the introduction of eCommerce, most of the offline companies are now switching to the online portal for sale. Everything is selling from online platforms today, the biggest retailers that have been in existence for many years and new sellers that have just started selling. But much of the time, as you try to follow this bandwagon in order to boost profits, you lose out on the specifics and your online company doesn’t thrive as you hoped.
Selling online isn’t the same as selling offline. Of course, the general concept of acquiring consumers and selling their goods to them is the same, but how you perform this online method differs from what happens in a retail shop.
Investing in an eCommerce shop right now has several benefits. The market is booming, and there can be no better time to reach out to consumers who are increasingly continuing to change their online shopping habits.
The new situation in India has all companies experiencing the pinch to different degrees because of a shutdown to deal with the Coronavirus, but it’s local retailers who suffer the worst. Read more to learn more about the guidelines that you have to follow to ensure that your online sales are as high as your offline ones!
2. Why Selling Online is a Smart Idea?
Connect larger audiences
With eCommerce emerging among millennials and young adults as a more well-known phenomenon, you don’t want to skip telling them about your product and persuading them to purchase it. Furthermore, since these people are super active on their devices, you might miss out on huge openings if you don’t reach out to them online.
You run a shop offline, for example. How many clients do you meet in a day? Around 30-50 a day. When you take your shop online, you will be visible to millions of customers out there who might be interested in the products that you sell.
Low setup costs
An online store is cheaper to set up than you expect. You don’t need the same amount of workers, capital, and even limited investment. So getting online isn’t going to cost you much as your offline shop might have!
Accessibility and broader scope
Although your offline shop just focuses on a single market, an online store offers you a platform to target consumers across multiple domains. For eg, you can advance your reach to the whole of Delhi if you have a store in south extension, South Delhi. But if you already have an eCommerce website, you can reach out to people all over India, and even around the world. That is the internet’s power.
We all know that word of mouth is one of the most viral means of building awareness about the brand. But what you don’t know is that the online word of mouth is much stronger and more powerful than the offline word. If your clients applaud you online, they’ll be out there for billions to hear. In addition, the combination of both modes will help you increase your influence significantly.
Things to bear in mind as you bring your shop online
3. Do market research
The first step is to do some research on the market. While you already know clients who frequent your physical store well, it’s time to learn more about clients who might be interested in your online business. Does your business cater to a specific niche? Has the demographics of potential customers widened now that the business is online? It is important for business planning and operations to learn more about potential customer segments you can serve.
Now that your business is online, your competitors are no longer the companies serving similar clients in your geographic area. Now that you can access global customers, the competition pool has significantly broadened. Size up the competition and understand what those companies have done to make online success. Be inspired by your rivals, and learn from the best.
4. Build an amazing website or marketplace store
You need a forum where you can showcase your goods as you start to sell online. You need a website or a shop for that, where people can come and see your items.
On sales channels such as Shopify, Magento, Woocommerce, Bigcommerce, etc., you can set up your store.
We recommend you to opt for Shopify as it is the most feature-packed platform. From here on we will consider Shopify as the default platform to set up your online store.
Start your free Shopify trial
The first step to launch your online store is to visit shopify.in. You get an eCommerce app free trial upon sign-up.
Here you can pick your store name, which will become the URL or domain name used by your customers to buy from your website. We suggest beginning with the Simple package but you can still upgrade if you see fit.
You will need to add your credit card or address to PayPal. Since you are on a 90-day free trial, you will not be charged for the duration of the trial period, and you will be sent a reminder before your trial ends.
Select a theme
Find the best theme or design template for your online store in the Shop Theme Department. You can start with a free theme designed by Shopify, or you can buy a theme created by one of our Partners.
You want to synchronize your brick-and-mortar store with your online presence, so try to explore themes by collection or industry and pick one that better suits your brand. Of course, no theme is exclusive to any industry, it’s only helpful to get you started quickly. Your theme can still be changed later.
Prepare the critical pages
The sooner you make your online store available, the sooner consumers will be able to purchase products from you. Concentrate on the basics: ensure that your shop has familiar elements of your business (such as your name or brand colors) and make it convenient for customers to search and order.
No need to be worried about the frills. Your focus should be on bringing your goods online and selling your stock in-store. Before you start, here are the pages we suggest you create:
Treat your homepage in the same manner as your store. Shoppers use the dashboard to find new offers and promotions and to search the product pages. Consider having a banner or notification bar that communicates important information with customers, such as what payment or delivery services you’ve made available to them.
Current developments in the supply chain have impacted shipping systems in unexpected ways, and the clients may have some shipping-related concerns. Ask about to see how other local firms are actually coping with their Shipping FAQ. It is important to share any additional measures you take to keep consumers safe when delivering orders to their door, such as extra safeguards while preparing or packing your goods.
Returns and Exchange Strategy
A structured return policy helps you to provide simple, concise rules for how consumers should exchange or repay their orders. Dealing with return and swap requests on a case-by-case basis is not feasible and can bring needless complication (and cost) to your project.
Product Pages Your web pages are where you’re selling the value of your goods, so it’s important to keep them comprehensive and convincing. Make sure the product descriptions supply customers with important information about the features and benefits of the product so they’re compelled to buy. Optimize the product images on product pages for better user experience.
Add your Products
It can take some time to add your products if you have a large catalog but there are ways to get started quickly. Recently Shopify has rolled out changes to make this process faster and easier, and they are now offering free data migration services for the first time when consumers start their online store.
Here are a variety of ways you can incorporate products:
- Bulk upload from your admin shop. If you are a Shopify user, you can do a quick bulk upload of your product to Shopify.
- Please use Shopify Mobile. If you haven’t been up-to-date on your inventory, use the Shopify Mobile app to take pictures of your items on your mobile device camera and link them to your online store with one quick workflow.
Set up a gift card
Selling digital gift cards is one of the fastest ways for a brick-and-mortar business to start selling online and secure instant cash flow. This is how it works:
- Develop a digital gift card
- Customers can order and pay for gift cards from your new online store.
- Purchased gift cards are then sent to the customers via email.
- Both used gift cards can be registered and handled in Shopify while consumers can redeem them in the future.
- When you launch new products that can be purchased online or make the products available for local delivery or pick-up, consumers can collect gift cards at check-out. By default, the gift cards you generate will never expire.
Set up the shipment
Shoppers are trapped at home and often need deliveries to reach their doorstep, which implies that an affordable and convenient delivery service is now critical. Here are some tips to keep the business moving in these challenging times — while staying safe.
Maintain shipping costs down
Shipping costs can be quickly absorbed in the margins of independent retailers, so be careful about how you handle shipping and distribution. Here are a few ideas for this:
Opt for manual shipping: print labels, send notifications, and monitor any aspect of your orders and, where possible, handle orders manually.
Establish “pick-up” for the local customers
Pickup lets your local shoppers order something online and pick it up outside of your store — without even having to leave their vehicle. Not only does this “drive-through” option reduce person-to-person encounters, but it’s also much quicker and decreases delivery costs. Here are the steps:
- Your customer will buy you online and pay you through your new online store
- You can receive the order by email, so you can easily prepare it
- You will then inform the customer when the order is ready for pick-up
- Your customer rides to your shop and opens the trunk
- You’ll put their order comfortably in their trunk
- That’s it, done!
Setting up payments
When you choose which payment options to offer online there are a few things to remember. All leading payment providers in India are available at Shopify. You’ll need to enter details of your payment account in setting and you’re all set to receive payments.
All payment mechanisms enabled by Shopify depend on third-party service providers to handle the transactions. These providers can charge additional fees, as well as impose rules on which goods you may sell using their service. Check with the organization offering the service to ensure you understand their rules and procedures before setting up a payment system.
5. Identify the Target customer
Knowing who you want to sell to is important when it comes to crafting how to sell to those clients. Fortunately, your physical store already has a pool of customers to survey and learn from. Develop an understanding of why your current customers come to you (i.e., your competitive edge), their goals and challenges, and what problems your business is solving. Some of your questions may include:
- Why have you opted for my business over other competitors?
- How may I serve you better?
- What are some of the utilities you use online?
- What websites do you regularly use on social media?
You can also customize your website and e-commerce store to attract and best serve related consumers online, after obtaining the data from your existing customer base.
6. Consider your strategy on pricing
Evaluate your sales plan now that you have a product offering in place. It’s really important to match the pricing approach with your target client. Spending habits differ widely across customer groups so make sure the goods are priced accordingly.
Furthermore, remember the expenses that you would have to bear in if you sell through a virtual store. While you do not have overhead costs relative to your geographic position, distribution, warehousing, and storage costs need to be taken into account when pricing a product. Although shoppers hate having pricing differences between in-store and online items, you need to protect your profit margins as a company owner to continue operations. The pricing policy is a delicate mix that would require substantial planning and prediction. Finally, look at the competitors and see how they’re pricing their products. Although it’s easy to assume that goods online would be cheaper, don’t undersell your business. Consumers also equate costs with quality, but if you don’t value your products properly, you can risk leaving money on the table.
7. Develop a Marketing Plan
When the website/marketplace has been set up, it’s time to inform the consumers about this. You will need to first establish an online presence and start reaching your target audience slowly for that to happen. We suggest that you always perform a comprehensive market study first, find out who your customer is, and then sell your product to them.
Essentials for making your mark online
Manage social media
Build a Facebook and Instagram profile and update it daily. See what the rivals are publishing, what their users are interested in, and shape a proper posting schedule. This method of attracting followers takes time but you can eventually set up your accounts and start promoting them on different platforms. Made use of various features of these handles to interact and promote your goods to your customers.
Once you have enough followers and your website is up and running, you can also set up a Facebook store and sell your products directly through your Instagram page.
Email marketing is an ancient but successful strategy that works with most eCommerce companies. But if you want to send emails, you need a list of users. Therefore, make sure that you obtain the e-mail addresses of your website users with enclosed messages (these are messages that enable the user to register or send their e-mail address before viewing it). Through entering your website, you can steadily create a professional email list and connect with them to interact and sell your goods.
Paid commercials include Google Advertising, Facebook Ads, Youtube Ads, etc. They follow a pay-per-click system where you can set a budget and pay certain organizations to air the company’s ads based on the number of clicks each ad gets.
For those planning to sell on Amazon, even Amazon Advertising is a great option for you, where you can gain increased visibility among your customers.
8. Draft policy on exchange/return
Return orders are a practice that can be minimized but never entirely abolished. Therefore, to ensure that you manage returns correctly, create a comprehensive return policy that lays out all the requirements and procedures included with return orders. This strategy should be made clear on the website, and its position should be prominent. Correctly managed returns are important for returning consumers.
9. Support for consumers
Last but not least, lay the solid base of a customer support team. This unit would be an expert in the procedures of the organization and can handle all questions properly. They should be trained to resolve conflicts in a timely manner and be given sufficient assistance. Help records and FAQs are also an important aspect of your customer support, so make sure you invest in customer service tools to align your tasks and keep a more focused process running.
10. Remain Flexible
Adaptable is the secret to success online. The internet seems to be traveling at the speed of light, so keeping up can be a challenge. Gather feedback from consumers and consistently develop the website, products, and offers. Consider where the market is going and how the company needs to adapt. With more customers accessing websites and stores from mobile devices, is your website designed for mobile viewing? Does it make any sense to create an app for your business? As an expert and owner, you can only answer these questions. By constantly improving and adapting, you stay ahead of the curve and the future-proof of your company.
11. Additional points to be remember
Security of the website
Enable your SSL certificate first to ensure that your credit card information is safely transmitted. Using the new SSL encryption for the peace of mind of your customers. You will want to make sure that you select an e-commerce platform that keeps your digital products safe.
Configure the tax rate
Set your local tax rate. Tax rates should be measured automatically at check-out, like US sales tax and EU VAT.
Set up perfect, transparent invoices for a profitable online company. Have a system in place to retrieve abandoned carts and configure your checkout page.
Link your website to Google Analytics or your preferred web analytics service to see where your visitors and customers come from and how they find your online store.
Test your shopping cart
Check the shopping cart and the rest of the site until you get your business online. Take orders and go through the checkout process. Note down any issues you see and set a deadline to resolve all of them.
Ask your friends, colleagues, and even staff to go through the same process and make them write notes so that you can review the data later or address the issues they’ve found.
Conduct these tests not only on your computer but also on phones, handheld devices, and other apps. You want to see how the website looks and how the checkout process functions on all sorts of platforms. Check search results, category sites, tags, and plugins, too.
Once you’ve checked everything, gathered feedback, and corrected all errors, you can get your business online.