Online vs. In Store: Hard Work Makes All The Difference
Twenty-three years ago, the first ecommerce transaction in the history of the internet took place. A site called Netmarket had figured out how to use encryption to sell music CD's. Pizza Hut began selling pizzas online soon afterward. A couple months later, a Wall Street executive named Jeff Bezos launched Amazon, and the rest is history.
The cultural shift towards ecommerce has forever changed industries that used to operate entirely through brick and mortar locations. Large and small businesses alike have felt similar pressures to offer online shopping.
However, this shift away from physical retail locations has caused many companies to invest in ecommerce sites without realizing that the same amount of work, if not more, awaits them.
Online Selling ≠ Less Work
When companies mistakenly think that operating an online store means they can skip the grunt work that goes along with merchandising and marketing your products, they misunderstand ecommerce's unique challenges.
Running a successful brick & mortar retail location means a lot of hard work and careful planning. The same ingredients (if not more) go into a profitable online store.
Elements of running Ecom successfully:
- Well built, easy to navigate website.
- Great product photography & compelling descriptions.
- Clear Shipping & Return policy.
- Well thought out workflow for processing orders & handling customer questions.
- Overall digital marketing strategy/plan and budget.
- Ongoing testing, data evaluation & analysis.
Ecommerce strategy is about creating a user-friendly, enjoyable experience through an online portal; this is a portal where you can't have employees greeting your customers and guiding them to the correct aisle. You have to put in the extra effort to make your ecommerce business approachable, successful, and sustainable in the long-term.
If your company goes about an ecommerce strategy correctly, you have the potential to expand into new markets and reach wider audiences. The important thing to remember when comparing physical and online retail is that both require a lot of work, but that work will pay off if done correctly and meticulously.
In the same way that detailed planning goes into in-store marketing, your customers should have a clear perception of your products online. Photography needs to be clear, edited, and bright to give potential customers the best impression of what your business offers. Descriptions of products should be similarly detailed and anticipate questions your target audience might have.
The logistics of shipping and returns should be handled in a way that places the most emphasis on guaranteeing a timely, seamless delivery for your customers.
Finally, the finished ecommerce site should be easily navigable and understood. Try to imagine interacting with the site as a potential buyer. Is the checkout too difficult? Are your pages coherent and consistent? Does it leave a positive impression of your business?