by C.J. Jordan
Let’s start with a number, say 23%. According to a recent study, retailers that have both a physical (store) and online presence have reported an average of 23% growth. I don’t care what industry you’re in, if you tell your boss that you can help grow the business by 23%, he or she is going to listen. The most common response we hear from retailers is that their budget won’t allow them to have a website. The purpose of this post is certainly not to tell every small business owner that they need to have a $50K website with all the bells and whistles, but it is to tell every retailer that you need to have some kind of website, period. People need to be able to find you… and not just on your Facebook page. While having an active social media presence is important, having a website to point visitors (read: potential customers) to is paramount.
Let’s break down your potential investment using some very round numbers. I use the term investment because that is exactly what it is. It is not just a cost, but rather something that can generate revenue. Anyway, let's say your average sale in-store is $50 (which is probably low). If you are able to generate ten sales a month (also aiming low) through the online store, that’s $500 per month. Extrapolate that out over the course of a year and you’re looking at $6,000 in online revenue. At this point, you’ve almost got your entire website paid for. Leverage some search engine optimization and you can be looking at some pretty impressive numbers.
With online stores, you aren’t confined to your four walls, square footage and foot traffic from those who live in a twenty mile radius. Gone is the excuse, “I wish I had XYZ store here so I could get those jeans.” Ship the purchases all across the country. Worried about losing the “personal touch” with some of your customers? I get that, but how about offering in-store pick-up? They get the convenience of online shopping and you get the benefit of having them come in-store and maybe even getting some impulse purchases. You could always include a handwritten note for the far, far away customer.
Online stores are not limited to clothing retailers, either. Make a mind blowing BBQ sauce? Make sure your biggest fans far and wide can get their sizzle on, from anywhere in the country. Oh, you don't want to sell physical products online? Offer the option to purchase gift cards online. If you're selling something, chances are there is someone outside of driving distance who is looking for your product.
What it boils down to is that your customers expect you to have an online presence… And, again, Facebook still doesn’t encompass all that you need to represent your brand, digitally. At this point, it is costing you more to not have a functional eCommerce website than it is to invest in one. 23% is a large percentage… it’s the difference in generating $365,000 in revenue over the course of a year and $448,950. How much cash is your business leaving on the table?