We are excited to work with contributing writer Emily Thompson, owner of online store Almanac Supply Co. and co-host of top-rated podcast Being Boss. As part of our commitment to guiding our customers through the changing retail landscape, Faire is partnering with Emily on a three-part series highlighting online strategies for retailers.
The big step in taking your retail business online is setting up an e-commerce shopping, which allows customers to buy your goods anywhere, anytime. And just as you took care to choose the right location for your store and set up your sales floor just so, you’ll want to make sure your digital shop is as intentional as your physical one.
Oftentimes the hesitation that keeps brick-and-mortar retailers from embracing e-commerce setups is the large expansion of your current operations, and though that’s true, it’s an expansion that will bolster your business. And, for better or worse, the impact of COVID-19 has made it clear that this diversification of your retail store is more important than ever, and retailers are seeing the possibilities. In fact, over 27% of Faire retailers have reported trying new online channels during this time. I believe that number should be higher, as I outlined in my first post of this series.
All retailers who are serious about continuing business into this new world should be attempting to broaden their reach by trying new online channels and marketplaces.
In this article, I outline a couple of online channels that you can explore when introducing e-commerce to your brick-and-mortar store.
Sell on social media
Many retailers’ first foray into online business is through social media. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow you to connect with your customers and keep them up-to-date on your products and events. Some of these platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, also allow you to sell your products.
To get started using Facebook or Instagram’s shopping feature, you’ll need to setup a Commerce Account and load your products—photos and descriptions—into catalogs. Once set up, your followers will be able to purchase products straight from your social media account.
Sell through your website
You may have a website for your store already—an important piece of digital real estate for your business. If you don’t, or if that website doesn’t have shopping capabilities, it’s something you should consider. It lends credibility to your business and gives you control over your customers’ shopping experience.
Your website will be your brand’s headquarters on the internet, dripping with all the goodness that makes your customers love you, from how you welcome them onto your website to how you usher them through the checkout process.
When setting up your website (or your shop anywhere), the magic ingredient is quality product photography, which can be accomplished with minimal tools—you can just use your smartphone camera! And when writing product descriptions, forego lengthy, poetic descriptions. Instead, go for concise details that give the basic information your customers need to know to make an educated purchase, like size and materials.
Layer your channels
Whichever option you choose to begin with, know that you should layer up. Maybe you begin with selling on Instagram, add some products to Facebook, and then launch your own website, utilizing all these online sales channels at once. It’s all about expanding your online presence and making these strategies work for your business—now get started!
Emily Thompson is a long-time business coach and creative warrior, helping retailers, makers, coaches, and designers develop an online business model and grow their creative business. She is the co-host of top-ranked podcast Being Boss, as well as the founder of Almanac Supply Co., a retail business that makes and curates products that help people connect with nature.