Taking your online business offline and opening a store 

Now, we know this sounds counter-intuitive, but increasingly businesses that were initially set up online are deciding to create physical stores. They are doing so to: 

  • Boost their brand 
  • Reach more customers 
  • Learn more about their customers’ preferences
  • To trial new lines 
  • Test out new advertising campaigns 
  • Familiarize their online customer support team with the people that they serve
  • To sell through stock that has not sold well online 
  • To make use of warehouse space that would otherwise be wasted 

As you can see, there are many good reasons to open a physical store. However, it is important not to underestimate just how big a step doing so is.

Make sure opening a physical store makes economic sense 

The first step is to sit down and work out how much opening and running a physical store will cost. This article lists out the start-up and running costs and provides you with an estimate for each one. But it is also worth speaking to other business owners and your accountant as well. They will be able to spot if you have missed anything and give you a better idea of how much everything is likely to cost in the area you will be trading in. 

Consider starting small 

If the costs do not make economic sense, don´t just give up on the idea of opening a physical store. Instead, consider taking a slightly different approach. You can learn a lot by setting up a pop-up shop. Even by selling on a market stall or asking local store owners if they want to sell your products on a franchise basis. In fact, in some cases, it makes sense to start the process of opening a physical store by using one of these business models first.  

Currently, there are lots of opportunities to do this. Some councils are running schemes to encourage people to start selling in physical stores again. Occasionally, you can also find funding. So, check to see if there are any women in business schemes or other funding sources that you could tap into. 

Use your online branding 

In most cases, it makes sense for an online retailer to use the branding they have already created. Doing so will save money, make the launch easier and create the chance to persuade your customers to buy from both your e-commerce and physical store. 

The simplest approach is to use your existing company colors and fonts to create your shop front. In-store shelf edging etc. You can also use digital signage for logo displays as well as for in-store advertising and sharing information. Something we talk about more later in the article. You can also turn some of your campaigns into physical ads. Creating retail ready fixtures from materials that are often already at your fingertips. For example, if you have previously run an online ad campaign using certain images or videos, use those same visuals in your physical store. This will help to create a cohesive brand image for customers who shop with you both online and offline.

Leverage your online customers to launch your physical store 

With a physical store how you launch is vitally important. Initially, a surprising amount of your business is going to come via word of mouth. So, you need to give people something to talk about by creating a bit of a bang when you launch. You can find out how to do that well, by clicking here

Given the fact that you already have a big online customer base, it makes sense to get them involved in your launch. Don’t let the fact that most of them are not likely to live close enough to your store to shop there, put you off. They can play a big role in creating a buzz and boosting your reputation by talking about you and what you have to offer. Plus, of course, there is a good chance that they will know people who live within the catchment area of your physical store. 

Get your in-store advertising right from the start 

For any business, good marketing is vital. It is what makes you stand out from your competition, builds brand awareness, encourages return custom, and boosts sales.  

As a successful online business owner, you will already know quite a bit about the type of people that like to shop with you. That is knowledge that you can use to get your in-store advertising right. Especially if you install digital screens and use them. In some cases, you will be able to simply use the image of an online advert that converted well for your in-store digital advertising. But you should also be open to using those screens in other ways. 

For example, if you are a fashion retailer and you see an influencer wearing an interesting outfit at an awards ceremony, try to recreate that outfit using stock from your store. If you have the right items, get a store member to model them. Then create a promo ad or a meme and at once use it on your display screens to encourage people to buy. 

The above covers the basics of taking the concept of a successful E-commerce store and opening a physical branch. But, of course, if you do want to do it, you will need to do some more in-depth research.