First Things First: Your Digital Commerce Platform
Before you make your online storefront, you’re going to need a place for it to live. That means you’re going to have to find a technical platform on which to build your site.
Can you make your own e-commerce platform? Yes, of course. But it’s going to take a lot of development work and a large investment while probably not yielding the results you can get from using an already established one.
A lot of retail businesses, especially in the US, start by selling their goods on a marketplace like Amazon. And that’s perfectly fine. Amazon has a huge customer base and provides all the basics you’ll need to get up and running selling online. It also means you’ll be competing with the doubtlessly numerous competitors who are filling a similar role as your business for customers.
The best idea is to shop around and find an e-commerce platformthat suits your needs. Don’t just go with the first name you recognize. Do your research and learn about the pros and cons of a variety of platforms.
Build Your Online Storefront
When you’ve selected your commerce platform, you’ll need to build your digital store. A lot of platforms come with tools that make this easier than you might think, but you will still need to adapt the store to your business and in particular to your customers.
Because of that, it’s a good idea to have a team of programmers, whether on staff or contracted, who are capable of programming websites.
This is really the most exciting part. One of the major benefits of taking a retail storefront online is you get to completely craft the user experience from the ground up. In physical retail, that means decorating and implementing displays and employee uniforms, etc. In the digital space, it’s really open to the limits of your imagination.
Of course, you’re going to want to maintain branding on your digital storefront to match that of your physical retail business.
Really take the time to plan out every step of the user journey. What do you want somebody to see the first time they come to your online store? How do you want to guide them to their product choices and then to checkout?
The more thoroughly you craft your vision, the more smoothly the website creation process will go.
ABUOC, or Always Be Using Omnichannel
We really can’t stress enough the importance of omnichannel strategy when you’re taking your retail storefront online. While we call it a digital transformation for your business, it’s really more of an extension.
Omnichannel basically means that customers are getting the same experience whether they’re shopping at your physical locations or they’re ordering from you online. That means branding should be the same, but it also means that your interactions with your customers, marketing materials, customer service, etc., should be communicating the same thing no matter how the customer is receiving them.
By using omnichannel retail strategy, you’re allowing both your physical and digital presences to bolster each other, rather than working separately.