You probably experienced the brunt of the pandemic firsthand. Not being able to operate your business as normal has forced you to think about what seemed distant and impossible, but today it is not so far away.
It is normal that, having dedicated all your time to your store, you have not had the opportunity to discover the digital world and all the advantages it offers.
It is very important that you know what it is all about and the different ways to make money with your brick and mortar store through an online store.
I want to make it clear that, with the help of this article, if you have a traditional business, you can leverage it seamlessly through an online store.
What is the difference between an online store and a physical store?
Of course there are some differences between a virtual store and a brick and mortar store, but the biggest of all is purely psychological.
As I said before, you have to be clear that, even if you have been running your physical store for years, starting a virtual store will increase your turnover, help you gain visibility and expand your work to the whole world.
To give a clear example, according to an article in DigitalCommerce360, online sales at Walmart during Q4 (October, November, December) grew by 17% in 2022.
|Brick and mortar store||Online Store|
The purchase is made in person directly in the store.
The purchase of the product is made online over the internet.
Subject to business hours
You can only visit the store during the stipulated business hours.
You can visit the online store at any time of the day and make your purchase at any time of the day.
You can see, touch and verify the quality of the product before making the purchase.
You cannot check the quality
Buying online will not allow you to check the quality of the product. This can be a drawback especially for the more demanding shoppers.
You take the product with you
The purchase is safe, since you will pay and take the product out of the store then and there.
You can suffer setbacks in the purchase process
Ordering from an online store can be a headache if delivery is delayed or if the product does not arrive in the best conditions.
You can't compare prices with the competition since you are in that particular brand's store.
You can compare alternatives
Moving around the different online stores will allow you to compare prices and product features without having to go anywhere and from the comfort of your home.
If you are not satisfied with the product, you can go to the store and return your product.
More complicated returns
Although the returns system has been streamlined over time, it is still very complicated to return a product from an online store purchase because it is often not clearly specified who is responsible for the costs.
What advantages does an online store have over a physical store?
Although the objective is the same, since in both cases the customer is buying a product from your company, there is a great advantage that only an online store can offer: scalability.
The Darcos case
To give a little more context to the idea, I am going to tell you about the Darcos shoe store.
Darcos is an Argentine company with more than 80 years of experience selling dance shoes for tango and salsa.
It was founded by Pasquale Crucitta, an Italian immigrant, a shoemaker by trade, who arrived in Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century.
His son Mario, later his grandson César, and now also his great-grandson Ariel, have been in charge of running the family business ever since. The store is located in one of the most central neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and has been a focal point for thousands of dancers and tourists who, year after year, came with the aim of getting the highest quality handmade footwear in Latin America.
It was César, in 2008, who began to investigate the possibility of developing a digital sales strategy through an online store.
This path transformed a simple brick & mortar store selling dance shoes into a global player, with distributors in more than 30 countries including Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States and Canada.
What were the advantages that Darcos found through its online store?
The importance of a product
Shoes and dancewear are products in demand in different parts of the world. That has been a great advantage that has allowed it to develop a whole strategy to sell clothing online as well as its line of footwear for men and women alike.
Global brand development
With the creation of an online store, the entire product line can be offered and shown to anyone in the world.
In addition, it was one of the first to show the currency exchange in its digital store, a differentiator that has allowed it to further expand its business to different regions of the planet.
The addition of distributors
With all this development, the company has been able to expand its portfolio of distributors not only throughout Argentina, but also to different countries around the world.
Currently, you can buy their footwear in cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Milan, Tokyo and New York.
Shop from home
Despite being a brand dedicated to fashion and dance footwear, opening an online sales channel has allowed customers to decide and choose their favorite model from the comfort of their home.
Offering a complete catalog
Another of the great advantages of its online store is that it offers a complete catalog of products. Unlike its physical store, which only presents the models of the current season.
Exclusive offers and quantity discounts
From the website, you can purchase products discounted by up to 60% and join its customer list to get more offers throughout the year.
Thanks to channels like Instagram or Facebook, as well as email managers, you will be able to create a community and keep it updated on the different collections or new products in the store.
Checklist of things to consider if you are opening an online store while running a bricks and mortar store
Do you already have your physical store up and running?
Then it’s time to take the step into the digital world.
To do so, I will share a checklist, point by point, so that you can get your online store up and running as soon as possible.
Mistakes to avoid if you are going to open an online store while running a brick and mortar store
When starting an online store, it is very common to make rookie mistakes.
Although we are talking about the same brand and, as we said before, the businesses are complementary, you must be clear that in some cases you have to be attentive in order to cover those gaps that may be created by the operation of the physical store together with the online store on a full-time basis.
One of the factors you should take care of when launching your online store is to avoid cannibalization.
What does this mean?
That your online store takes profits away from or causes your physical store to lose sales.
In other words, you are competing against yourself.
As we have already mentioned, the objective of the online store is to leverage your physical store.
The strategy should include both channels in pursuit of a greater benefit for the brand.
To avoid cannibalization, you can create an exclusive product line for the online channel or even use it to sell used clothing from returns that you can’t display in your brick and mortar store.
Lack of stock
You often want to give a false sense of security to your customer by including designs or items that you no longer have in stock. That will only bring headaches.
Place on your online store only the products that you have enough stock available to be shipped the next day.
We recommend you do not include discontinued products or products that need to be manufactured, unless it is specifically stated in the item description.
Also, keep in mind that you will need to keep the physical store stocked in order to continue operating on a daily basis.
Keep it simple.
Don’t go for anything fancy.
You’ll only scare away potential customers and bog them down with unnecessary information and images.
Choose a platform, such as Shopify or Woocommerce, that uses user-friendly and fast-loading environments.
The easier and simpler it is to complete a purchase in your store, the higher the conversion rate.
As already stated above, one of the most important points to succeed with an online store is to have specialized ecommerce staff.
The sales and customer service processes are different from those of a physical store because they are generally “impersonal”.
In other words, the customer is not physically in the store, but often it will be the customer service manager who will have to convince the person to make a purchase without actually handling the product.
A digital store never closes. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You must expect to receive emails, inquiries or sales at any time of the day.
For this reason, you need to organize your time, especially at the beginning, so that you are not the one who ends up answering emails and performing all the tasks.
How to open an online store
Now that you have a clear understanding of the differences and the advantages of having an online store to leverage your physical store, it’s time to get down to work.
Here are the different ways you can sell online and all the resources, most of them available for free, that will help you in this task.
Things to keep in mind
At this stage the goal is to decide on which of the ecommerce platforms you are going to set up the store on as well as registering the domain.
The most used platforms are:
- Shopify: This is the platform we use for our stores. I recommend it for its simple interface and because it can be used by both experts and beginners without technical knowledge.
- Woocommerce: A very powerful platform and very similar to Shopify, but it requires some programming knowledge to get the most out of it.
- PrestaShop: Like Woocommerce, it is oriented to more advanced users. It is one of the most popular in Spain.
If you want to learn more about each of them, you can take a look at the Online Store section in my article on how to sell online in Spain.
Once the ecommerce platform has been selected, it is time to register the domain name of the store.
This is the name that the user will have to enter to access the store. For example: www.adidas.com (In this case, the domain is adidas.com).
To make it easy, I recommend you watch the option “Create your online store with this step by step video” in which I explain how to register the name for your store using GoDaddy, one of the best domain managers in the world.
The goal of this stage is to get the store ready to start selling products.
To do this, you will need to complete a series of steps that I will detail below:
- Choose your theme or store design.
- Organize each category of the store.
- Add the products.
- Design your homepage.
- Create the support, legal notice, shipping, privacy and return policy pages.
- Configure the checkout page.
- Configure the shipping.
- Add complementary applications to increase the average ticket price.
Once the store is ready to start selling, it’s time to publicize it.
For that, you can start by using the strength of your own physical store. For example, by handing out business cards with the web address, adding the online store to the packaging of your product or placing advertisements inside the physical store.
In addition, you will have to work within the digital world to build, little by little, a community that identifies with your brand and your products.
Social networks are a great starting point since you can create your profiles completely free of charge. In addition, you can use them for promotions, launches or exclusive sales.
The most popular ones are Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok. If you want to know how to get the most out of each of them, see the section on Social Networks in my article on how to sell online in Spain.
Furthermore, there are other methods that require financial investment.
Thanks to SEO, you will be able to position your store in the Google search engine through different keywords related to your product.
It is a process with medium and long term results that require the services of a specialist who can do the job.
Paid advertising campaigns through Facebook Ads, Google Ads, TikTok for Business or Twitter Ads is also another way to start offering your products.
Each of those tools needs investment and a specially designed strategy through their platforms.
To take each of the points I mentioned above forward, I recommend you watch this course in which I explain, step by step, how to use your brand to set up an online store using the Shopify tool.
Amazon FBA: another way to leverage your brand online
In addition to your online store, Amazon FBA is a great alternative to boost your brand and, above all, your sales.
Amazon is the king of ecommerce worldwide. Its Amazon FBA program will allow you to open an account as an Amazon Seller and use its sales platform to send your products to its logistics centers and let them take care of the distribution and delivery to the end customer.
To learn more about how to start selling on Amazon and boost your business, I encourage you to visit my free course on Amazon FBA in which I teach you, step by step, how to set up your store from scratch and with a minimal initial investment.
How to combine physical and online business
I have been telling you throughout the article. The main objective is that when you finish reading this text you can create an online store that is complementary to your physical store.
Therein lies the secret that will lead you to considerably increase the turnover of your business.
According to an article by Retail Dive, 51% of people prefer to buy their products in physical stores because they can touch and see the product in person. However, the remaining 49% are comfortable doing it online.
The first thing you should do to take this forward is to carry out complementary actions.
Here are some recommendations:
- Offer each person who visits your physical store a discount coupon for subscribing to the online store’s newsletter.
- At the online store checkout, offer the possibility of picking up the product in the physical store.
The American company GAP offers the possibility of reserving the product in the online store and receiving a notification when it is ready to go to the physical store to pay and pick it up.
- Promote your exclusive product line both online and in the physical store.
- Offer the possibility of returning products purchased online to the physical store.
- Use a QR code for a specific action (discounts, 2 for 1, personalization, etc.) that can be performed in each of the stores.
- Encourage customers in the physical store to communicate through digital customer service means.
- Place a camera that can broadcast the physical store through the website for visitors to learn about it. That will greatly increase your credibility.
The Beeping Difference
Take advantage of Beeping‘s warehouse service to have merchandise ready for immediate delivery anywhere in Spain and Portugal in just 24 hours.
It also includes express shipments all over Europe.
Thanks to Beeping you can forget about the preparation and shipment of packages and, above all, the time spent on it.
Ultimately, you’ll be able to use your time to scale your store and focus on how to sell more and more.
With our comprehensive software, which adapts to tools like Shopify or Woocommerce, you will be able to manage the stock from your physical store online.
The tracking numbers of your packages are automatically updated and the notification is sent directly to the buyer.
Through the cash on delivery service, you can offer your customers the possibility to pay for their product when it arrives at their home.
You can schedule a call from the button below to learn more about this great service.
Creating an online store does not require great technical knowledge or a large initial investment.
The cost benefit for your physical store is very high and, following each of the points we have reviewed in this article, you will have an online store ready to make a leap in the turnover of your business.
Let’s review the most important points.
- Although there are differences between a physical store and an online store, you must overcome preconceptions and get down to work. This is an opportunity to grow your brand.
- Look at the Darcos case as a true reflection of the advantage that setting up an online store has meant for this brand. It has given it visibility, expansion and prestige at an international level. In the digital world there are no barriers or limits.
- Avoid the most common mistakes when opening your online store. Be careful with cannibalization, manage the stock efficiently, if you have no previous experience look for an easy to use platform and, most importantly, understand the 24/7 concept. Your online store will always be open to anyone.
- To launch your store you must take into account three fundamental aspects: the administrative matters; the technical, design and setup phase; and the marketing aspects.
- You can develop different business models such as arbitrage, dropshipping, Amazon FBA or cash on delivery. Become an expert and find the model that best suits your store.
- In short, combine both businesses so that they mutually enhance each other. Use Beeping’s warehouse service to have merchandise available for 24h delivery.