Making the move from a traditional ‘walk in’ shop to an eCommerce website is something that many shop owners have considered. It could transform a struggling local business into a thriving national enterprise, but if not planned correctly it could just as easily flop.
Let’s consider a make-belief shop, Colin’s Computers in Salisbury. He sells computer parts to the locals, and is making a tidy profit, customers like his honest approach and customer service. He would like to expand his business by basing his Colin’s Computers Dot Com online shop in Salisbury, and shipping his products nationwide. Surely with a business model that works the scaling will be easy?
Unfortunately it isn’t that simple. To start with Colin has local Salisbury residents passing his shop daily, and his friendly service has earned him a reputation. His online shop will have no passing customers at first, and he’ll have to start his reputation from scratch.
He could use SEO (search engine optimisation) to help him improve his Google ranking, but that will be an uphill struggle as he’ll be competing with large national companies such as PC World and eBuyer. They have thousands of products and teams of people dedicated to promoting them. They also have a huge buying power and can undercut Colin, plus they will have discounted postage… ah, Colin forgot about postage, and returns.
We’re not saying that an online shop is a bad idea, definitely not. We have produced many successful eCommerce websites some complimenting a traditional shop, others are solely internet-based. What we’re saying is that an online shop needs consideration and planning.
When Colin started Colin’s Computers, he wrote a business plan to show his bank manager. This business plan worked, but unfortunately will not necessarily convert to a nationwide online market. By writing a new business plan Colin could find a niche, or a particular way of advertising his customer services that will put him one step ahead of the large national companies. I use a very well recommended independent company who are not local to Salisbury due to their customer service being outstanding, it can be done!
Any reputable eCommerce developer should offer honest advice to anyone looking at setting up an online shop. When people approach us wanting an online shop we will advise them the best course of action – even if it costs us a client!
We will go one step further and use our experience to help our clients find a niche, and offer advice on writing their business plans. So if you are after an online shop in Salisbury, please contact Webbed Feet UK.