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How to Turn Your Physical Storefront into an E-Commerce Business

Nov 29, 2021

Take advantage of the digitally connected world by branching your business out into an e-commerce powerhouse.

There’s no denying that we live in a digital world, and the impact of e-commerce in retail is greater than ever. 

Does that mean that strictly physical storefronts are disappearing? No, it certainly does not. Physical stores provide a completely different shopping experience that millions of people still enjoy on a daily basis. 

However, it does mean that there’s an opportunity for physical retail stores to expand their presence into the digital realm and reap much greater rewards because of it. After all, the more options you give your customers for purchasing your products, the more likely they’ll be to turn to your store for their shopping. 

Customer experience should always come first, and more buying options means better customer experience.

So why are there still so many strictly physical stores out there that are ignoring the vast potential of branching out into the digital commerce space? Well, it’s just not that simple to revamp an entire business model. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of work and investment. In some cases, the idea of relying on technology for a whole arm of one’s business can even seem intimidating or too convoluted.

Customer experience should always come first, and more buying options means better customer experience.

The good news is that branching out into e-commerce isn’t as difficult or complicated as one might think. In fact, a physical storefront that’s about to embark on their first journey into e-commerce is in the enviable position of having the chance for a fresh start. 

Below, we’ll talk about some of the key concepts that will help you take that first step into e-commerce with confidence.


The Power of Omnichannel Retail

Albert Einstein once said “Deep into nature, we find beauty, order, and harmony, and we find that everything is connected.”


This also happens to be the philosophy behind omnichannel retail. 

Never has the reality of everything being connected been more obvious than it is today, especially when it comes to how people are shopping. Everywhere we go, we have access to various channels of retail. We can shop through mobile apps, web browsers on phones, tablets and computers. 

We can go to a store, find a product, Google that product on our phones, and read user reviews from people all around the world on the very thing we are looking at on the shelf in front of us. 

Simply put, omnichannel retail allows businesses to take advantage of this connected reality. The idea is to create a unified shopping experience across all channels so that, no matter which device or medium the shopper is using, the journey is largely the same. 

There are a lot of big name examples out there that perfectly exemplify this philosophy. Apple, for instance, allows you to order a new iphone on your old iphone and pick it up at your nearest physical store location. The employees within the store are even using Apple phones to check stock and take payment. 

Deep into nature, we find beauty, order, and harmony, and we find that everything is connected

Best Buy similarly has a great omnichannel approach in which physical and digital retail intermix to provide the customer with the most convenient way to shop and receive their purchases. 

You’ll notice that it’s not just about the shopping journeys, either. Omnichannel means unified marketing and branding that stretches across all channels to deliver the same messaging and brand recognition. 

This approach is also just as suitable for small businesses as it is for larger corporations. 

As an example, a small coffee shop might offer an omnichannel experience by putting QR codes on bags of coffee in the store that take shoppers to their website where the properties of that bag of coffee are explained in detail. They could also ship ground coffee along with branded merch to customers. Maybe they’ll post a weekly coffee blog for connoisseurs, or coffee talk podcasts. 

If you’re reading this right now and beginning to get excited about the possibilities, then you’re on the right track. Omnichannel retail is a philosophy that rewards creativity, and the limitations extend as far as your imagination. 

It’s also pretty much necessary for modern commerce to succeed. 


Why You’ll Want a Headless E-Commerce Platform

When a customer walks into your store and speaks with a sales associate, they’re essentially speaking to the front end, or customer-facing component, of your business. 

When that sales associate goes to the back room and speaks with a manager about a customer’s problem, that is the front end interfacing with the back end. We’re not trying to say that managers are back ends, but in terms of this example the manager is performing behind-the-scenes functions to inform the front end on what should be done next. 

A headless commerce solution works in much the same way. The front end and the back end are separated so that one can be altered or updated without affecting the other. 

The benefits of using a headless commerce solution are many. They allow your e-commerce store to be changed quickly without disrupting the customer experience. For instance, you can launch new products quickly without any disturbance to the flow of things. 

Headless also means you can customize everything from product information to marketing materials without so much as a hiccup on your customer-facing storefront. This also happens to facilitate an easier way to manage your omnichannel presence, wink wink. 

The bottom line is that you should make headless functionality a priority when searching for the right platform for building your e-commerce store.


Building the Best Digital Customer Experience

Giving your customers the best possible experience when they’re shopping at your store is something you’re already familiar with. It’s paramount to ensuring that they’ll return to shop with you in the future.

Well, that’s no different in the world of e-commerce. You’re going to want to provide an experience that is easy to navigate, snappy, and which provides conveniences that will aid in the journey.

One example of this is using an AI-enhanced search algorithm that will lead shoppers to relevant product recommendations when they’re searching for the apple of their eye on your store. 

Another example is providing adequate product information. An informed customer is a happy customer, and giving thorough and detailed product info is the best way to makes sure they know what they’re getting. 

Site design is also a big factor in customer experience. You want their journey to be a guided one that uses easily visible calls to action and a non-cluttered design to lead the shopper from one step to the next. 

The problem is that you’re not going to know exactly what the customer wants right off the bat. That means a lot of testing and tweaks will be necessary, and constantly evaluating how your site is working and how it can be better will be of the utmost importance. 

Luckily, building your online store using the right e-commerce platform will give you access to all the data you need to make those calculated changes based on customer behavior data. You’ll be able to identify problem areas on your site based on where most of the customers bounce off of throughout the journey, and then make tweaks to fix the problems. 

The digital customer experience ties back strongly to both of the other things we’ve already mentioned. Using a headless commerce solution will make it much easier to change and adapt your online store to customer behaviors without disruption. 

Omnichannel, by its very definition, is a big part of providing your customers with a better digital shopping experience. By giving them access to more ways to conduct their shopping journey, you’re offering more convenience to the shopper and strengthening their loyalty to your brand. 

And brand loyalty is really what it’s all about, right? Returning customers means returning business, and a more steady flow of revenue as a result. 


Avensia Can Help You Expand to E-Commerce

At Avensia, helping businesses like yours build and establish an online retail presence is at the core of what we do. We have teams of experts who specialize in all types of modern commerce, as well as experienced designers who know how to focus on placing customer experience at the forefront. 

E-commerce is our specialty, and we’re always eager to help businesses succeed in it. Whether you’re looking to build an online storefront from scratch, or you’re just hoping to optimize the online store you already have for a bigger impact, we can get you there. 

If you’re somebody who’s looking to expand your physical storefront into the world of e-commerce, contact us today and find out how we can help.