Ecommerce has brought almost everything about retail online, making solely virtual retail business possible in the process. To that end, there are now countless retail outlets that exist exclusively online, while many more virtual stores are being set up all the time. It is easy to see then how lots of businesses, even those with the funds to keep a brick-and-mortar outlet running, would instead decide to make their business online only. For sure, there are many savings to be made by going online.
However, this has not actually happened to anywhere near the same degree that many people expected. As you will be only too aware, there are still plenty of brick-and-mortar retail outlets in operation.
Indeed, many businesses still consider the employment of staff and investment in a physical outlet a worthwhile endeavor. All the others costs associated with this form of business – from fire safety signage to spillage kits and employee parking – are also considered worthwhile investments. In one sense, it is easy to see why this is so.
There are in fact advantages to a physical outlet over a purely online store. The major one is that potential customers are much more likely to buy something once they enter a physical store than once they are browsing a website. This browsing experience is also fundamentally different in a physical store than an online one (obviously) and many customers still prefer to browse shelves and to take something home with them there and then.
Furthermore, a physical store can be its own form of marketing, especially when it is located somewhere with no equivalent type of store nearby. An attractive storefront on a pleasant street is a potent tool for drawing potential customers in.
So, brick-and-mortar retail outlets have certainly not had their day in the face of the ecommerce revolution. But this is not to say they haven’t been affected by it (and do not engage in the online sphere themselves). In fact, it is standard practice for all but the very smallest of stores or franchises to have an online presence, too.
Online Presence of Physical Stores
When it comes to taking things digital, many businesses with no intention of closing their physical premises make use of the internet to create an online presence. There are two main benefits this brings for those running brick-and-mortar retail outlets. The first of these is that it allows for diversification and an extra revenue stream (albeit with the added expense in web design and order fulfillment). The second advantage is that the internet is a place to advertise and promote a business, and there are many ways of doing this.
The wonderful thing about online promotion isn’t just that it can be viewed by anyone living anywhere in the world, but that it can more specifically target those individuals who would be interested in the business. Marketing often takes place on social media sites and forums, and these can be viewed as online spaces where people with similar interests congregate. It is easy to see how these spaces are perfect for marketing.
Such online marketing is normally done with the intention of attracting people to the ecommerce site from which they can purchase products. Nevertheless, even businesses that do not sell anything online can have an online presence.
In such cases, this is usually just for the purposes of “spreading the word” and marketing. Restaurants are a particularly good example of businesses that cannot sell anything online to customers, but which can benefit very much from online promotion.
So, ecommerce is one thing, but what about the promotion of a brick-and-mortar business online. What are the advantages in more detail, and what is the best way to market online?
Benefits of Online Promotion
The benefits of online promotion all revolve around the fact you can reach millions of people instantly. However, contained within this is a particular problem. With so many potential people that can be reached, it can be much more difficult to stand out.
Certainly, an online business has a harder time standing out than an attractive storefront on Main Street in town. Accordingly, marketing and promotion needs to be tailored to the right person, and it needs to go to the right place.
This drawback can be quickly tuned into an advantage, though. Marketing a business online is all about putting that promotion in the right place. What you are looking for is interest groups. This could be a Facebook group, the individuals following a particular Instagram page, or some distinct website or forum where content can be posted.
The internet allows you to reach such groups of potential customers much more easily, so taking full advantage of this is a way you can stand out online.
A further benefit of advertising online involves being able to effectively reach people who are not near your business’s location. Of course, for many non-ecommerce businesses, this advantage can be cancelled out by the fact that these people are simply too far away to reach you.
This means that unless your business also sells things online, you should get the geographical radius your business operates within clear before you embark on online marketing. If you can manage that, then you will be able to target those who are close enough, thereby turning your location into an element of your marketing. You can exploit the convenience of proximity – even online.
So, with all of that said, here follows some brief tips to finish up with. This is how you market online when you do not run an ecommerce business:
Engage in E-mail Marketing
This is a wise move as it allows you to specifically target individuals in a way that you normally could not online (and which you can with a physical store). Email correspondence with customers is the online version of hat chat in the shop – and it can be done at any time.
Show Your Business Premises
One sure way to show that you are not an ecommerce site but a promotion site for a physical business is to show that business on your site. If there are any advantages to the area where your business is located, for example, you can also emphasize these at this point.
Use a Limited Budget
The ultimate success in ecommerce is to have visitors arriving at your website continually. This allows you to make more sales. But if your business is not ecommerce, you really don’t need to have this goal. Spending extra towards it could end up being money wasted.
With features such as pop-up menus, about pages, and general page navigation, it is much easier to present more information in your online marketing than would be possible with physical advertising. Online promotions simply give you so much more potential to inform.
So, this is why online marketing isn’t just for ecommerce sites. For brick-and-mortar stores too, it can be a very sound endeavor.