A new report from the Commonwealth Bank has found that online retail sales knocked 1.3% growth off traditional bricks and mortar retail businesses in 2011. Other studies have shown expected growth of 12% in online retail.
The real issue for retailers is not what they can do to stop the growth of online retail but how they can take advantage of this growth. There is no excuse for traditional bricks and mortar retail businesses not to have a fully functioning online store.
There are low cost options available for every retailer.
The quickest and simplest way to start is start selling on eBay. eBay is a great way to start in the online arena, you can find out which products sell online best, which products have the greatest demand, where the online price points are. eBay is where the buyers are – fish where the fish are.
In your ebay store, you should be testing your headlines, images, product descriptions to see what sells best and for the best price.
- Can changing the text from product features to product benefits enable you to increase the price.
- What questions do people ask? The questions will reveal their anxieties about buying your product online.
- Is there a niche in your market that is not being covered by other online retailers, that you can target?
- Can you just get rid of the slow moving stock?
The major problem with eBay is that you don’t own it. You are therefore need to create an online store you own.
Setting Up Your Own Online Store.
Ideally you want to own your own store (ie domain name) that you have control of and build up into something you can sell.
Assuming you have your own domain name. You will need to have a platform to run your online store.
Some recommended ecommerce platforms are:
- WordPress.org and wp-ecommerce plugin. A really simple solution using the most popular CMS website platform in the world with a simple plugin that enables you to sell products and collect cash. You can get designers to quite cheaply set up your site.
- BigCommerce.com – an Australian company that is making some big inroads into the market. It is a hosted solution which means that it sits on their servers but your domain name.
- Magento.com – a open source ecommerce platform that handles some really big sites. It can be complex to set up. They have hosted and self hosted versions.
Most bricks and mortar retailers are stopping before they get to the first step – just getting started and learning the ropes. It will not get any easier, but many retailers probably have all back end already (stock, suppliers, staff, marketing material, trust, an existing customer base).
Learn the process via eBay sales and use that experience and testing on your own online store. The internet means that quite small niches can become viable businesses if they find where that niche is.