There are many reasons why you might want to switch over to an all-online retailing operation. The first one is that decreases in foot traffic at many stores has turned them into losing propositions after rent, utilities and insurance are taken into account.
In some areas of the country, shoplifters are now virtually free to come in and take what they want without fear of legal consequence, and that isn’t even getting into the urban riot phenomenon. What this means is that a lot of retail businesses are not just unprofitable but may in fact be liabilities which could wipe out your entire life savings if someone decides they covet your inventory more than you are willing to defend it. Whatever else you can say about ecommerce, shoplifting does not rank high on the list of concerns.
What does rank high is the need to generate sales out of an entirely new cohort of shoppers who may have never heard of you and are not easy to contact without very expensive outreach efforts. The first thing you need to do when going all digital is to make sure your current customer base knows where you are going and how to find you. You will probably lose a lot of them but any that you can keep as an established customer base is a bonus.
Make sure you leave some sort of contact information on the front door of your now-closing retail space. Put up a new message on your business phone that informs customers that you are now an online-only operation. In both cases, you might post a discount code so that anybody who buys from your new ecommerce site gets a 5% discount or something else to entice them to follow you.
Next, you need to redeploy what you used to spend on overhead — such as rent, utilities, and insurance — onto the expense side of the ledger on your new operation. Ecommerce sites have expenses as well, and one of the biggest is digital marketing for your online shop. If you do not advertise, you are going to die a lonely death in your garage/warehouse. So, if you used to spend 2000 a month on your storefront, you should still spend 2000 a month on your new digital storefront. Yes, this is going to hurt for a while until things get humming again, but you can’t get back to the sales count you used to enjoy without doing so.
Nor should you be blind to the advantages that your new retail format conveys. Unless you were running a 7-11, you did not have a 24/7 operation going, but now you do. People can shop and buy from you even while you sleep. It is indeed a very pleasant feeling to get up in the morning and see how much money you made during the night. You’d be surprised how many people do their shopping after the kids are in bed or there’s nothing on late night TV.
Take advantage of every possible platform to reach people. You want an Amazon presence due to the size of their customer base. You want an eBay presence for all the people who despise Amazon and refuse to do business with them. You want a personal website for all the people who used to be your customers and also for those who hate eBay and Amazon both. There is a real undercurrent of discontent with large nosy corporations that is not talked about very much but is still happening, nevertheless. Allow your customers the option of patronizing you directly.
Get on Craigslist and list something for sale. Get on Facebook and list something for sale. Place inexpensive ads in legacy media outlets that cater to your exact customer specifications. A lot of people out in rural areas, for example, get some kind of monthly magazine from their electric power cooperative. These are great ways to reach people who do a lot of online ordering. You don’t need to list your entire inventory on any of these platforms but list something as a monthly special. Always include a coupon over the regular suggested retail price.
Call up all your friends and have them place imaginary orders with you and leave positive but not obviously fake reviews for other people to peruse. If you think this sounds dishonest, you have now received your very first lesson in the Online Reputation Management industry. This is done all the time, especially for those who have annoyed a lot of their customers into leaving bad reviews.
Above all, do not forget that this is your job. Put in the time just like you used to. If you skate, you’re going to fail.