Outside the Box: Expanding Your Retail Store to Online

by Danielle Bloom

2 min read

As your brick-and-mortar small business grows, your business model should grow with it. Consider taking advantage of retail growth by expanding your business to online. This may seem daunting if you’ve never ran an online store before, but with a calculated approach, you can run an e-commerce store alongside your existing store easily. Here are four tips for streamlining your retail-to-online expansion.

Automate Inventory Management

If both of your stores share inventory, then on-hand counts and reordering can get out of hand quickly. Avoid inventory snafus by upgrading to an automatic inventory management solution that tracks your on-hand items between both stores. Set your software to update your inventory every time you make a sale so you always know exactly what is available. You can also set automatic reordering reminders to avoid running out of popular items, which leads to costly revenue loss.

Use an E-Commerce Platform

The most intimidating part of expanding to online is creating and maintaining an e-commerce website, especially if you don’t have prior experience with e-commerce web design. Luckily, you can skip that part altogether by using a third-party, standalone e-commerce platform such as Shopify. This lets you experience all the ease of a one-click shop setup but without competing with other marketplace sellers on websites such as Etsy or eBay. Other benefits include:

  • Drag-and-drop editing
  • Easy SEO implementation
  • Built-in payment processing
  • Ready-to-use coupons and reward systems

Harness Social Media

Because your brick-and-mortar store already has a following, you have the benefit of harnessing your existing social media audience for promoting your new e-commerce presence. Make Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts from your brick-and-mortar store’s account promoting your online store’s grand opening.

Share posts from your online store’s social media accounts on your main account so your existing following sees that your online store has an account too. This is an easy way to accrue followers for your e-commerce store without starting from scratch.

Consider using paid promotions to target your existing audience when making new posts from your new accounts. Communities such as Facebook and Reddit allow you to target specific user subsets based on browsing behavior and interests, which makes it simple to catch any users who may have missed your new store’s opening in addition to new users who are interested in your brand.

Consult Your Accountant

When you’ve got two stores with unique sales flows and revenue streams, it can be difficult to keep your accounting in check, even if both stores sell the same products. Apps such as QuickBooks for Shopify can simplify the process by automating all of your e-commerce sales data for accounting purposes.

Before your online store opens, schedule an appointment with your accountant to discuss the best way to handle numbers for both stores. It depends entirely on whether your stores share the same business designation, revenue, inventory, and business expenses, but you may be able to handle both sets of numbers under the same accounting sheets.

References & Resources

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