Running both a physical store and an online store is a balancing act. How do you take the magic of your local brick-and-mortar, and bring it to the e-commerce realm? Equally important, how do you take your neighborhood mainstay and give it universal appeal?
It’s all about online branding.
The beauty of running your own small business website, versus relying on mass marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay, is you’re given complete control over your customer’s experience with your business. In addition to mastering the art of online branding, retail entrepreneurs must also make sure these e-commerce fundamentals are in place:
1. Tap the best online platforms and resources. You don’t need a pricey developer to bring your business online. There are a range of domain platforms that give small businesses the opportunity to purchase the right web address for launching online.
For New York business owners, OwnIt.NYC offers local entrepreneurs the opportunity to get the web address that matches their business name. This is essential for helping customers find you online.
2. Be prepared to optimize your website. Before thinking about the bells and whistles of web design, prioritize the content and the right keywords. In addition to a short, memorable and clear web address, SEO (search engine optimization) plays a critical role in ensuring your customers can find your business on the Internet. Plugging in the right keywords related to your product or service can boost your visibility in search engine results.
3. Let the world know you’re Made In New York. Using a .NYC web extension allows your business to instantly adopt Big Apple branding. Let the world know your business was born and raised in New York City, arguably the most competitive and dynamic small business landscapes in the world.
4. Create synergy between your physical and online store. You can’t treat your online store as an afterthought. Take the same attention to design you brought to your brick-and-mortar, and apply it to your online store. But first, consider auditing your current physical store and note what works and what doesn’t. Look at your storefront and interior with fresh eyes, and tag which elements (typography, colors and graphics) can transfer to website aesthetics. There are free and accessible resources, such as Canva, to help you create beautiful banners, logos and graphics.
5. Make the checkout process a cinch. Offer as many payment options as possible, ranging from major credit cards, to newer payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay. This is very important for an easy checkout process and better customer experience, especially if your shop serves both local and global audiences. With a cart abandonment rate of more than 75%, business owners cannot afford to lose a customer’s interest during checkout.
6. Make it mobile-friendly. Don’t just design for the desktop computer. The mobile shopping site should offer a great user experience, with easy navigation and checkout features. Your ads should also be optimized for mobile through Google Ads as well as Facebook and Instagram.
7. Create a dynamic online destination. Ecommerce sites should not just be all about selling, selling, selling. An online store is also a vehicle for connecting with customers and developing rapport. Share your founding story and your mission on the About Us page. Provide contact information so they can call you with questions or concerns.
8. Make your small business website work for you. While being personable and accessible to customers by phone is important, a small business owner can easily be spread thin. Use your website as a customer service platform that lists your store hours and address. Anticipate your customers’ questions and concerns and answer them up front with a Frequently Asked Questions section. This will save you loads of time.
9. Blog away. Consider launching a blog for sharing your knowledge and skills in a specific topic, or showcasing what’s new at your store. Use your small business website as a platform for enticing locals to come by your brick-and-mortar, and shop more.
10. Social media matters. If you haven't created the appropriate social media accounts for your physical shop yet, you absolutely want to make sure you create them for your ecommerce. Make sure you link to your e-commerce in your profiles to increase web traffic to your online store.