How to Convert a Retail Business to eCommerce

Thanks to the ever-growing accessibility of eCommerce and technology, the entire retail landscape has shifted. While people are still choosing high street shopping because of convenience, the number of people shopping online has hit around 20%.

When you pair this with the rising cost of living, small retail business owners may wish to convert their operations to online, which will save money when it comes to overhead.

How to Convert a Retail Business to eCommerce

If you’re considering converting your retail business to an eCommerce business, here is a short guide.

Write a Business Plan

Whenever you’re making a large change to your business, it’s important to write up a business plan. Effective planning will help you to keep on track and have an idea of timelines and costs beforehand, which is essential to pass on to shareholders. Every part of your business needs to be planned out, from website design to taking orders to customer service. While you write your business plan, you can decide whether you need to hire more staff and where to divert current employees.

Design a Website

Leaving your store behind means saying goodbye to a physical entrance. Luckily, you can build a fantastic website for potential customers to “enter” your store. As you’re converting a business, we assume you’ve got a brand presence already established. If so, it’s important that the same brand is carried over to your internet site.

You may be concerned about the costs associated with building a website, but you can get the process started for free with a no-code provider like Builderfly.com. Once you’ve transferred your business and stabilized your revenue streams, you can implement unique features by hiring a web designer.

Merge Sales Channels

If you’re thinking about closing down your physical business address, we suggest operating both during the early days. During this period, you can double your revenue by having two streams, which is all money that can be invested into the change.

When you’re ready to close down your physical store, you’ll need a virtual business office address; It’s extremely easy to set up a virtual business address for LLC. This virtual box service will collect all of your mail and upload them to a secure cloud server that can be accessed remotely. To learn more about this and get started with your virtual business office address, follow the link.

Get Marketing

Regardless of foot traffic to your physical business, you need to signpost shoppers to your online store. You can start doing this in-store by handing out flyers and putting QR codes up on the windows. Then, you can get on social media and start engaging with your potential audience. Remember, whenever you post content online or interact with your customers, maintain a consistent brand.

Build Contacts

Attracting customers for eCommerce can be difficult. You will need to do some networking and form contacts. This will sound like a basic form of marketing, but it’s essential for earning early conversions. After building up a decent-sized contact database, you can move your marketing efforts onto email and social media, which will help you cast a wider net.

Effective Delivery

When you’re selling products from a physical store, you won’t need to be concerned with delivery costs and other rates. However, when you enter into the world of eCommerce, delivering products at an affordable and fast rate is essential. When customers have to wait beyond estimated dates, their customer experience is tarnished before they receive the product.

You can tie effective delivery into expanding your business. Will you ship exclusively domestically or take your brand internationally? If you’re attempting to hit an international market, you’ll need to decide how to set up your business. For example, will you manufacture and deliver to order, or will you ship to an international warehouse? The latter will make the international customer experience much more positive, but it will come with additional costs to take care of. 

Flawless Customer Service

The nature of eCommerce means that customers don’t benefit from the luxury of trying clothes on before they buy. Therefore, you need to have a clearly defined returns policy and an excellent customer service team on standby. If you can’t afford the luxury of a full call center, to begin with, you can use a VoIP phone and set up an answering machine with a call-back scheduling function.

Outside of phone calls, you need to remember all the ways people communicate in 2022, including email, social media, and texts. Luckily, there is plenty of customer relationship management (CRM) tools that consolidate all customer service channels into one platform. Converting a physical store into an eCommerce success will take plenty of strategic planning, which involves detailing every aspect of how your business will operate in its new format – the short guide above will help point you in the right direction.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan