Moving from an online sales space to a bricks-and-mortar store is a big step but could be one worth taking to help your business grow.
By Jean Rasbridge (Managing Director, E Cigarette Direct)
It’s impossible to run a successful business in the current market without e-commerce. An online store is one of the most important aspects of your entire business and will help you gain not only a huge amount of attention but also a large part of your sales.
However, once your business has started to turn over more profits, it can be extremely beneficial to open a physical store on the high street. You’ll gain the attention of customers and be considered a serious business, whilst also providing a new service to your local high street. We recently opened two stores in the UK for ecigarettedirect.co.uk to help expand the business even further.
Having opened up stores from our online business, here are six tips for you if you’re planning on doing the same:
Customer Service Is Essential
If you want to build a loyal customer base, both online and in store, you have to ensure exemplary customer service at all times. To do this, make sure that orders are dispatched as soon as possible and rectify mistakes quickly.
By building this customer base, word-of-mouth will spread to other potential customers, meaning plenty of people will visit your store when it opens. You may even get customers to travel to your location, all of which will hopefully result in profits in-store
Save Money But Don’t Cut Corners
When you’re trying to turn a profit, you obviously need to save money where you can. Using your spare rooms in your house as stock rooms and working from your kitchen can be really beneficial. However, don’t purchase substandard goods as this will reflect really badly on your business.
This works in a physical retail location as well – you might have been able to save some money on products, but when customers see the products in your store, they’re simply going to leave if they aren’t good quality. Work out where you can afford to save and where it’s worth investing more.
Pick the Right Staff
It can be difficult to judge how a potential employee will treat your business based upon one interview, so don’t be afraid to make the interview process much longer and more thorough than a simple interview. Furthermore, use the references provided properly and ensure you’re hiring from a source known for providing great employees.
When you’ve opened your shop, employees are more important than ever. Choosing people who can speak confidently to strangers, handle stressful situations and is passionate about the company will ensure your customers have the very best experience.
Appreciate Your Staff
In the beginning, when you are first getting your online business off the ground, your staff are there to help take the pressure off you but as you expand, it might be a good idea to offer them the option of transferring to your physical store if they would like. Employing staff from the start of your business who you can trust and who will trust you in return, will only pay off well. Some may be happier behind the scenes but others may enjoy working ‘on the ground’.
By paying them a living wage, as well as giving them authority and respect, you can help ensure a happy work environment and this will, in turn, mean your staff are more likely to want to stay with your business in the long run. They are also much more likely to be passionate about the business and therefore show this passion to the customers they interact with.
Don’t Forget About The Online Space
Traditional marketing is old hat – you might want to put up a few posters and an advert in the local newspaper when you open the store, but making the most of your online space will help make your shop a success.
Don’t let your blog go neglected simply because you have opened a new store: make them work together together. Have an online space to help in-store customers find deals and make posts about your shop on the blog will help drive in new customers, and promote your website on in-store displays.
Further Develop Your Customer Relationships
Developing a relationship with your customers online involves engaging through social media, chatting professionally but warmly over the phone, taking the time to send them offers and promotions they will enjoy and listening and acting upon their feedback. This all helps to bring you closer to the customers.
In real life – in a store – this is even easier to do. Recognising regular customers and being friendly is more likely to encourage them to spread the word about your new shop. If you invest in them, you will reap the benefits.
Do you have any tips for moving from internet sales to bricks-and-mortar stores?
About the guest blogger: Jean Rasbridge is the MD of E Cigarette Direct, The Smoker’s Angel, one of the leading e-cigarette vendors in the UK. Jean trained as a translator, and her favourite all time job remains working for a company importing wine from France (because of the challenges of the job, not the free wine samples, of course!) She went on to run a shop before becoming a successful designer and sales person and then running an online mobility aids business.