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Learn to supplement your store with a web shop

I can't understand why more shop owners don't supplement their ”physical” shop with an online store.

Imagine the following:
• Many of your customers coming to you live far away from your store location and may not return.
• Some of your regular customers will soon move and not return.
• There are lots of people across the country (and abroad) who don't even know that your store exists today and can discover it online.
You can attract these three groups by supplementing your physical store with an online store.

8 tips on getting started with an online store for those who already have a shop:

1. Don't get too focused on, or afraid of, technology. Today, there are incredibly easy store solutions that are cheap to buy and easy to maintain. Ten years ago it was difficult - today it's easy to open an online store. I'm allergic to complicated technology, and even I can do it. It means that you can too!

2. Choose a store solution that suits you, not too big and not too small. It sounds obvious, but many internet store solutions have limitations and some others get expensive if you have too many products. Make your own specification of what kind of job you want your online store to do before you talk to suppliers.

3. Investigate the market carefully before you start. Rosy dreams are nice, but they don't pay the bills. If you find that many other stores are already selling what you intend to sell, study them carefully and see where you can find your special place in the group. You need to compete with other things other than just the price (you'll always be more expensive than the major players in the business.) It's not certain that you need to have your entire catalog in your online store. Perhaps there's a special part of your range that few others sell – focus on those products.

4. Treat your online store just as seriously as your shop on the street. Customers are real, even if you only have contact with them by e-mail. Give them answers to questions as quickly as you can. Give them great information on what you sell. Make sure it can be ordered by phone, fax and letter too. If you handle this properly, the customers will feel that it's safe and good to order from your online store.

5. Use your profit to make your store grow in a way that will benefit yours customers. Add articles that you buy from others or that you've written yourself to add smart content that will make your shop more than just a store. You want to create the obvious place for a purchase. Always try to think one step ahead in the struggle against impersonal stores online. You never meet your online customers - therefore you should always make an extra effort to make your store as personal as possible. Give tips on what you do best on your website.

6. Be sure to start a newsletter that gives the visitors the added value (which will give you more contacts as well). That way it will be easy to contact people with the same interests as you and you get the chance to show that you are worthy of their business.

7. Don't forget to tell all the customers that they can order online too.

8. Sit back and enjoy that a part of your sales are now handled entirely automatically (even while you're sleeping).

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

230 000 prescribes to his free newsletter "The 5 minute marketer"
Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.