How to Shift Your Brick-and-Mortar Business to eCommerce

How to Shift Your Brick-and-Mortar Business to eCommerce
Here’s how to get started bringing your brick-and-mortar business online.
by Alise Bailey Apr 20, 2020 — 4 min read
How to Shift Your Brick-and-Mortar Business to eCommerce

While much of the population is staying home in recent months, businesses are adapting in new ways to connect with and serve their customers.

If you own a brick-and-mortar business, you may have begun shifting online to continue to sell your products and services. While the change to virtual team meetings and eCommerce can be a big change, there are a number of steps you can take to ease the transition. Here’s how to get started bringing your brick-and-mortar business online.

Go omnichannel

How to start an online store

If you aren’t already online, you don’t need technical skills to get started — and it’s a solid move for your business. Here are a few options.

Here are some tips for how to set up your online store.

Strategize fulfillment and beyond

Before the online orders come in, you need systems in place to sort and count products, manage packaging, and ship and deliver orders. You should create an omnichannel retail strategy that includes the following:

Mark & Vinny’s is a Sydney-based Italian restaurant that has adapted to its community’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic by setting up an online ordering page with Square. The team provides family-style dinners, reheatable meals, wine and beer, and sauces so you can add some of their amazing flavours to your own dishes. Customers can order online or takeaway from their brick-and-mortar restaurant. You can even share a meal with a loved one by purchasing a Mark and Vinny’s gift card online.

Stay flexible

You’ll need to adapt your day-to-day operations if your business becomes more heavily dependent on eCommerce. Don’t be afraid to try new ways of working, ask your staff to work in a different way, or update your product offering. Be creative, and see what works and what doesn’t.

Barrel One Coffee, a Brookvale and Manly-based brick-and-mortar coffee roaster, offers merch (such as t-shirts and tote bags), boxes and taster packs, as well as coffee subscriptions through their online store. Plus, with Barrel One Coffee purchasing their raw beans directly from Farmer Co-operatives and Estate farms on Tanna Island, you know your purchases will be going to help the local economy.

Now customers can use Barrel One Coffee’s eCommerce site to select their favourite products from home. Once an order is confirmed, customers are sent an invoice, and orders are shipped for a flat fee, fulfilled by staff in Barrel One Coffee’s retail shops.

Connect with your community

Using this time to reach out to your local (and virtual) community is a great way to get involved and stay in touch with your customers. A few of our favorite ideas:

Get active on social

Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great, free ways to keep your customers up to date on business operations, product and service offerings, sales, and more.

In addition to posting new product offerings on Instagram, Barrel One Coffee has shifted to delivering their Breakfast Box, which allows them to continue providing some of their favourite products for customers, but at a healthy distance.

Go live

Live streaming on Facebook or Instagram provides a chance to connect face to face with followers. Take advantage of this to stream regular offerings (like yoga or dance class), or create unique experiences (like bringing your star bartender online to share how to make a signature cocktail) for your online community. Instagram Stories are also a great way to connect with followers in a more dynamic way.

The Bearded Jaffle, a jaffle and coffee food truck owned by brothers Todd Gawn and AFL-star Max Gawn, is one such business, which has embraced Instagram Stories and shifted the majority of its business to delivery and takeaway where customers can order ahead using their online store.

Offer a helping hand

If you’re able, consider getting involved in COVID-19 relief offerings in your community. Whether you donate products or services, volunteer your time, or are able to keep your doors open as an essential business, your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Stay in touch with staff

Even if you don’t see your employees in person each and every day, it’s important to stay in touch. Some aspects of remote working to keep in mind at this time:

Keep it real

These are challenging times for everyone. Share your learnings and your current struggles with customers. A recent trust study by Edelman shows that the more open you are as a business, the more you can cultivate trust and confidence with your customers. Don’t be afraid to let customers know that you’re still learning, adapting, and changing, and you’re open to suggestions.

To get more guidance and tools for your business during this time, check our resource hub.

Alise Bailey
Alise Bailey is an editor at Square, where she writes about how to start, run, and grow a business, highlighting our sellers around the world.

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