Brick and mortar is still a viable sales channel, but at some point, most physical retailers start to wonder about what an ecommerce presence could do for them. If an omnichannel strategy is something you’re thinking about, you’ll also need to think about the following items before you get too far along in the process.
- Pre-Launch Marketing
The buildup to your ecommerce launch is big. You have to find ways to tap into your existing customer base and drive them to your ecommerce storefront without cannibalizing sales.
How you handle pre-launch marketing will go a long way toward determining your success. There are a couple of ways to approach pre-launch marketing.
Window signage is ideal if you’re located in an area that receives a lot of outside traffic. The more you can do, the better!
- Inventory Management
An essential thing you have to recognize is that inventory management will become a much greater challenge, once you go from just brick and mortar to omnichannel. Suddenly you’ll have orders coming from online and offline.
This is great, of course, but it can be chaotic if you don’t put the right strategy in place. “In my prior career, I managed a team overseeing hundreds of millions in annual inventory for a large multichannel apparel retailer, and I can attest to the diligent and careful balancing act required,” business consultant Daniel Shim notes.
“Too little inventory can lead to unsatisfied consumer demand and missed sales opportunities, whereas too much can reduce margins, as deep markdowns become necessary to clear obsolete products.”
Ignore this important issue at your own risk. It could mean the difference between enjoying omnichannel success and crashing before you get off the ground.
Pricing is a sensitive issue for omnichannel retailers. Are you going to offer the same prices online as in the store? Or will you make one channel cheaper in order to encourage more traffic?
Will you charge for shipping – and how much? Will you offer coupon codes and discounts, or stick with standard pricing?
Pricing is something you’ll probably have to tinker with over time. It’s best to go in with a strategy up front and see how things work out. You can always pivot from there if you perceive that it’s not working as well as you’d like.
- Future Strategy
When you invest in ecommerce, you have to take an optimistic view. A business owner must go into it with the assumption that it will be successful.
Even so, you need to think about future strategy. If your ecommerce channel becomes as successful as (or more than) your brick and mortar channel, what will you do? Will you become an ecommerce company exclusively, or will you continue to maintain a brick-and-mortar presence?
There aren’t going to be right or wrong answers to these questions, but you would do well to have a strategy already in mind. This will provide clarity when you’re in the process and help you decide where to move if pressure mounts from all sides.
Start Investing in Ecommerce
Some companies probably aren’t that suitable for ecommerce and would do best to focus all their efforts on their brick-and-mortar operations. However, it’s become fairly clear that ecommerce is a profitable option for most firms, across many industries.
The sooner you make the transition to ecommerce, the sooner you’ll be able to carve a profitable niche. Start investing in ecommerce today!