So, it’s been some time, and now your online business is growing steadily. Yet, most of your products are sold across the country rather than to customers in your own community. If you’re like most online retailers, you’ve thought about setting up an actual physical location – a brick-and-mortar. This certainly can be a strategic way to generate local business and increase brand exposure. However, there are some important considerations to ponder before leasing that cute storefront on Main Street or buying that freestanding building.
Having Multiple Options for Customers
An ever-increasing number of retailers that initially established their roots online are realizing that they can gain a competitive edge by setting up one or more physical storefronts. This makes sense when you consider that the majority of all retail sales still happen in physical stores.
Customers Enjoy the Tangible Experience
Even if you have the most amazing ecommerce site with professional images of your products, there are still many consumers who simply want to touch or try on your products before they decide to buy – think of Bath & Body Works. Perhaps the most obvious reason to sell from a brick-and-mortar building is to give your customers an opportunity to experience your products in person.
More Eyes on Your Business
Building relationships is now incredibly necessary for growing a brand. It’s harder to do this online because the “human touch” often doesn’t translate across the internet. Having a storefront can enable you to engage with customers and build relationships in a way that is dramatically different from those built exclusively through your website, email and social media channels.
An increasing number of online businesses are realizing that they can enhance their brand by opening a location. There’s no longer a reason to classify your business as either online or brick-and-mortar. Having both provides customers with the ability to shop the way they feel comfortable whether that’s in front of a computer screen or perusing the racks and shelves in a store. Something for everybody!
Better Customer Connection & Storage Logistics
Many online businesses launch from garages or small office spaces. When success happens, lack of space for storage, shipping and managing day-to-day operations becomes a real challenge. Of course, one solution is simply to find a larger warehouse and operations facility. However, many retailers find that there are distinct advantages to moving into a space with a storefront.
Being able to sell directly to customers while also having more room to store and ship orders can simultaneously improve customer service and generate more sales. The next step is establishing additional storefronts in other areas to make it even easier for customers to purchase and return merchandise.
Are you sold now on the advantages of opening up a storefront to complement your already thriving online business? Great! But, there are definitely a few things to consider before adding this channel to your sales model.
Do You Need to Make an Investment?
Running a retail store requires substantially more than just an online business. You’ll first need to either purchase or lease a space that is zoned for retail. Even the most basic of stores will also need display racks and shelves, a sales counter and possibly other costly interior fixtures like lighting, flooring and furniture. Point of sale tools for managing transactions and generating receipts will need to be added to your budget, too, along with sufficient merchandise to fill your space.
Unlike ecommerce sites, brick-and-mortar retail stores also require scheduled staffing. Will you be able to manage a store while also handling online orders? If not, you might have to hire help.
Many online businesses discover that the costs of launching a storefront are considerable, but they can potentially be offset with additional sales. A flexible source of capital, such as funding from Unsecured Finances, can be a smart solution for buying what is needed to get started and for covering payroll during those first few months.
Thinking of Starting a New Business?
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