In this blog post, we talk about why you need to take your local business online. We created this post because we noticed something incredible in our recent webshop projects. We discovered a rising conversion rate for small businesses. Internet giants like Amazon are still growing. But also the smaller and mainly the local shops are winning momentum because of the rising number of people who are buying products online.

Almost everyone is now shopping online (yes – you as well). And people are not only shopping online for electronics and clothing but also for less traditional online purchased goods like vegetables, bread, meat, fish, ice cakes, flowers, art, gifts, groceries,…

Why a local business should sell products online

It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are or what you are selling. If you are selling anything from a physical store, you should also consider selling the same products online.

At the moment we see a lot of small businesses that start to invest in their online presence. Most of them have a ‘Google my Business account‘ where they added their basic company details and opening hours to be present on Google maps (a must-have by the way). Some started a ‘Facebook Business page‘ to interact with local customers or they opened an Instagram account to share images of their creations. Others invested in a website with basic info and contact details. But almost none of them have a webshop.

People want to shop local

Google trends - near me search resultsGoogle Trends reveals the explosive growth of location-based searches. People searching “near me” phrases naturally show a strong intent to locate something near them, and the phrase’s volume continues to grow worldwide.

According to a 2018 Google study, “Near me” is no longer just about finding a specific place. It’s now about finding a specific thing, in a specific area, and in a specific period of time.” “Near me” searches combined with “can I buy” or “to buy” have grown 500% over two years.

Immediate benefits for your business

Another reason to get started is because of having too many clients in your physical store. Patisserie Lietaert is one of our clients who has quite a lot of peaks in customer traffic on specific times of the day. At the weekend it can get really crowded in the shop and people do not like to wait for long. So they might pick another available bakery shop in the neighborhood instead.

By introducing a webshop to his current clients, the total sales have drastically gone up. People can now order and pay online and pick up the order inside the store in a matter of seconds. This speeds up the whole ordering flow in his store, making it possible to serve more clients in the same period of time during peak hours.

Forecasting production

Somedays the shop is packed with people and products are sold out. The next week it might be calmer and you just stocked up too many fresh goods that unfortunately need to be thrown away. Our clients informed us that better forecasting is one of the bigger positive impacts on their business. The online and offline peaks are connected and you can spot trends in advance. If you know by Wednesday that there are 50 orders in the system that need to be ready for pick-up on Saturday, you can prepare yourself for this rising product demand.

Better customer service boosts recurring business

Your clients can look at your products, read the product details and purchase your products 24/7.
And if they have questions they want an answer to as quickly as possible, make sure they can easily contact you through a contact form outside the office hours.
A lot of people, including myself, like to read through the detailed description of a product at home before they drive to a physical store to do the actual purchase. When clients check the information online, it will take pressure away from your team in the store because people will bother them less with questions.

Cross-selling and up selling online products

The more data you gather from visitors the easier it will be to know what triggers them. If you know their interests, you can easily start introducing them to other products that might interest them.

Cross-selling can be done from the shopping cart. You can add a “frequently bought” product feed. So at the last moment, people can add butter, or salt and pepper to their shopping list when they are ordering steak at a local butcher for pick-up later that day.

Upselling could be in the form of “add an extra item to your shopping list to receive free shipping”. Or you can persuade them to buy more by introducing “order now 9 items to get the 10th item for free”.

How to start with an online webshop

Ok, by now you are probably convinced that a webshop is going to be the next chapter for your business. But how do you start? No worries, we’ll talk you through it!

How to start your own local webshop

Start small

Choose your current top-selling products and put these in the online spotlights. You should keep the product range small to make it easier for your webshop visitors. In the beginning, they will be hesitant and if they have too much to choose from they will freak out and leave before making a purchase. So keep it light and clean, so the top sellers get the attention they deserve. Later, when your shop is well known by a broader audience you can introduce new products and inspire customers to buy something new and different.

Think about your prices

Are your products going to be cheaper online or offline? Or do you keep the price the same?
Will they need to pay for shipping? Or do you request a small fee to put everything ready for pickup by the clients?

Or boost your online sales by offering discounts when someone orders online (Buy 3 get one free).
You can also offer free shipping when people purchase above a certain amount.

Product photography

Put your products in the spotlight they deserve. It is best to leave this to a professional product or food photographer. They know all the tricks to make your products look extra appealing on your webshop. If you do not have the budget to hire a photographer, you can get to work with our tips for fashion & product photography and smartphone photography.

Make it work with your current systems

Connecting with your current way of working and the tools you already use (ERP, CRM, product database) can reduce your workload. If the online orders are connected to the order system you are already using it will make your job a lot easier. Making sure you don’t have double work.

Shipping the online orders

Will you ship your products? Or deliver them in person? Or easier, let the customer pick it up on a certain day and time that fits your schedule the best. Do research on how your customers expect to receive their order and what is feasible for your business.

Digital Marketing plan

Let everyone know they can get access to your store without leaving the comfort of their home on a rainy day (yes, bad weather actually boosts online sales).
Having a beautiful webshop is nice – but if there is no traffic, it might not be worth the investment. First, you need to inspire and tell people why they need to buy your products. Think about awareness campaigns at first as focussing too much on selling might harm your revenue in the long term.

These days it is really easy and cheap to promote your webshop to your local audience. Quickly set up advertising in a range around your physical store or target possible local clients when they are actively searching on Google.

If you want to go a step further you can target people who almost converted. With the help of Facebook advertising and Google ads, you can easily target shopping cart abandoners.

We know that it does not look easy to start with an online shop. That’s why we created a series of supporting blog posts:

webshop ontwerp en ontwikkeling bij Baldwin in gent

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