More and more businesses are clamoring for the eCommerce space to showcase their services or products. After all, modern-day buyers are mostly online, and this trend is not fading any time soon. A decade ago, nobody would have thought this would be the new normal. Covid-19 has further opened our eyes to the fact that depending solely on traditional business methods is shortsighted. A blend between physical and online channels is more than needed.
Any business worth its name that still ignores the internet’s power will eventually have to lay off more workers as it moves fast towards closing its doors. That is the reality, for retailers who regard online shopping as a mere fad. The future of any meaningful business with long-term ambitions lies online, and that’s where you should direct your investments.
However, moving a brick-and-mortar business online is no walk in the park. It might have been for the early birds, but now it comes with some tough challenges.
From In-store to Online: Top 5 challenges
These are the top 5 challenges you are likely to face in the process of moving a traditionally “offline business” online:
#1 Stiff Online Competition
Since many businesses have moved online, the competition for customers is already stiff. The newcomers, or rather, the latecomers, have to work extra hard to gain a footing.
For instance, pioneers like Amazon have already established themselves and grabbed a massive chunk of loyal online customers. Everyone is clamoring for the same space, shouting for attention.
A business that is new online has to convince these customers that it can offer something of value. It’s for this reason that a strong, predictable, and reliable customer experience is so vital at this time.
#2 Learning The Language of the Internet
The tricks needed to persuade an online customer to place an order are not exactly the same as traditional business methods.
There is an online language that anyone doing business in the digital realm has to master to communicate effectively with online customers.
Each customer visiting your site will want a product or service tailored to meet their individual needs or taste. How do you figure this out? You need to gather data from various potential customers in advance to pinpoint what they will need from your business through marketing applications like Emarsys.
But this is not the end of the game. With online shopping, it is easy for customers to compare prices to decide which product or service is the best. Therefore, you have to work hard to convince the customer to buy from you, unlike in the brick-and-mortar setting where you mostly have their full attention.
#3 Attracting the Targeted Traffic
Before an online business even gets its first customer, it has to acquire some visibility online.
Similar to the traditional set-up, your targeted customers must be able to locate your online store. Any online buyer who purchases your service or product will have to visit your site first.
So how do you attract a potential customer to your site?
Huge sales require heavy customer traffic. It doesn’t come easy. Creating awareness may take a long time, unless a business incorporates the services of experienced digital marketers who understand the concepts of SEOs, emails, display ads, keywords, PPC, affiliates, social media marketing, blogging, etc.
It is these marketing campaigns that eventually convert to traffic and purchases to a business site. No online business can afford to rely on a single channel of traffic to make sales.
#4 Retaining Loyal Customers
A brick-and-mortar business moving online also has to contend with finding ways to convert the traffic into buyers, and buyers into loyal customers.
One popular way is to have a massive email list and send your subscribers messages to remind them about your business, offers, promotions, new products, services, etc.
The trick is to always remind them about your business and brand, so they buy from you whenever they need a related product. Still, you first have to convince them to subscribe to your emails.
Using Social media to Keep Customers Informed
An online business can also have a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, etc. to gain and engage loyal customers. But even this is no guarantee you will manage to sell your products and services.
With so many distractions on the internet, it is not easy to maintain the attention or full loyalty of these so-called followers long enough to persuade them to place an order.
At the same time, you have to be creative and patient to avoid coming across as a pushy, nagging brand. Usually, only a fraction of your mass emails will be read to the end. That’s how gloomy things are. But don’t ignore the benefits that social commerce and promotion can bring for your business.
#5 Privacy and Security
When running a traditional business, one doesn’t need to answer so many questions about the company. There is a boundary that customers are not even interested in crossing.
With an online business, on the other hand, customers want answers about everything, so the scrutiny could go overboard. You may have to part with some information you considered business secrets for the sake of “transparency.”
Related to that is the issue of security. How safe is the information you give out there? How is it being used? Could it be manipulated and used against you in the future?
The security of the business assets will also be at stake as you transition online. The business management should be careful since this could be when the business loses some useful assets. Proper stocktake should precede the moving into the digital realm. This starts with implementing the right ecommerce platform for your business that fits your required business’ needs.
The records need to be updated and accurate. Unnecessary assets should be disposed of to cut costs. A solid system will prevent you from wasting valuable resources on safeguarding those assets and could potentially save your total cost of ownership from skyrocketing.
Although moving a brick-and-mortar business online could be an uphill task for some companies, there is no option other than surmounting the challenges and learning to adapt to the changing times.
More and more potential clients find driving to a physical store to buy an item or service inconvenient, and it’s up to you to accommodate their needs.
About the Author
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library with a hot cup of coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.