How to Easily Build a Web Presence for Your Store

You’re rooted in your store, the one place where customers can find you and what you offer in the flesh. But more and more you hear you need to be online because that makes you accessible to everyone, and accessibility’s increasingly becoming the name of the retail game. However, establishing an online presence doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds and you can do it easily in a way that makes sense for you. Win-win!

internet for retail store

A successful online strategy is one whose goal is to drive traffic to your store. People walking through your doors equals sales, it’s a tried and true business formula. The key on the web is to give people a sample of the experience you offer. Here are a few tools to get you started.

Let's say you want to set up a website. You may not know the first thing about a building a website let alone an aesthetically appealing one. Luckily, there are professionals at a reasonable rate that do. Squarespace's team of designers creates beautiful sites that once cost thousands for as little as $8 per month. It’s an easy, effective, and affordable way to dip your toe in the online waters and showcase your store to the world.

Looking to dabble in social media? Facebook is a great place to start. Upload pictures of your store and products, post events you're hosting and promotions you're running, and don't forget to include your store's address and hours so people know when and where to find you in the real world.

The good news is anything you post to Facebook can find a home on other social channels, too. Instagram and Pinterest are visual havens so any pictures used on Facebook will fit right in and the news and events you posted are perfect for Twitter. Moz provides a great (and free) tutorial for anyone just starting on social media to get a firm grasp of how to use it successfully.

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to sell products online, Squarespace provides the option of ecommerce capabilities. For those looking to dive headfirst into ecommerce, Shopify will build a fully functioning online store complete with inventory management, fulfillment, and dropshipping. It should be noted; making an impact in an endless sea of online stores takes a lot of resources. It's the Black Diamond difficulty online. Simply creating a great website without ecommerce is an easier slope to ski and you can look really good doing it without killing yourself.

Whether it's on a website or social channel, your goal should be to use these arenas to bring people to you. You can do this by giving people far and wide a taste of what you have in store. Chances are, if people like what they see when they walk through your door, they'll like seeing it on the web, too. By using these tools successfully, you can create an engaged community reaching farther than previously possible.

Comments

  • Allie Says:

    Mike, great article-- it's so important to break down these essentials into manageable first steps for new and small businesses. Minimimum Viable Launch, so to speak. I do have to disagree about Facebook though-- we know (they admitted as much in their F8 conference!) that they are continually making changes and funneling business accounts to use paid advertising (Level 2 of web presence, but also essential in the 21st century!) to even get users' eyes on their content. It's necessary to have a presence there, but for brick and mortar shops, a better use of energy is their own site with e-commerce functionality (not optional!), supported by Pinterest and Instagram-- that's where their target customers are looking for inspiration and product info. And as you mentioned, the same content can be repackaged across different social media. I argue that an owned e-commerce storefront is necessary because of the volatility of platforms like Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, etc-- aside from being able to control your content and branding 100%, your online shop won't be lost among millions of other accounts, and it won't lose ground when that e-comm giant makes platform changes in favor of their shareholders rather than the sellers. They're businesses that need to turn a profit, too! Thanks again on a great intro to social and e-comm, I love what the Grommet does for new brands!

  • Michael Says:

    Hi Allie,

    Thanks so much for the comment and the kind words! You bring up some interesting points. In terms of Facebook, their algorithms can feel limiting, but on the flip side, it can help you iron out your presence and allow you to be discoverable in the case people are searching for your business on the platform.

    As far as e-commerce, it's funny you say not optional because one of the members of our Wholesale team wanted to emphasize it should be optional. She worked with a store for a few years and it took them six years to establish an e-commerce presence that was anywhere close to worth it. She said the awareness your site generates is far more valuable than sales because it can take more resources than you have to register a return. Some stores don't need an e-commerce element, they do fine with their store and the web can help them widen their reach.

    Of course, it will be different for everyone. Hopefully this is helpful for anyone just starting online. Thanks again!

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