It’s hard to ignore how much Aussies love to shop online.
In August of 2021 alone, Australians spent $4.2 billion online, a 36% increase on the previous year.
While stay-at-home orders influenced this trend during the pandemic, we’re hedging our bets that online shopping will continue to become more popular and accessible.
This isn’t to say your in-person store has to close its doors.
Whether you’ve been in the retail business for years or are thinking about stepping in, adding an online store to the mix can have great benefits.
Here, we show you how and why to create an online store in 2022.
Reason #1: It’s cheap
Creating an online store, also known as an e-commerce store, has the potential to give you great savings.
This could be a good choice if you want to avoid overhead costs such as renting a shopfront on a busy street.
It will also suit you if you want to operate around the clock rather than during standard business hours, letting more customers buy from you at a time that suits them best.
Reason #2: It removes barriers
The pandemic forced many people to shop online, including those who had never done so before.
This means more people feel comfortable shopping online, and websites are becoming more user-friendly – removing barriers to online shopping.
By creating an online store, you give people with disabilities and others who may have been unable to physically access your store a way to shop with you anytime and anywhere.
Reason #3: It creates new value
Many businesses these days combine physical stores and e-commerce stores for the same business.
This works really well for your business if your customers like to browse online before heading into your physical location.
In some cases, having both an online and physical location can force your business to look for new ways to provide value during an in-store visit.
An example is Bunnings Warehouse which has a large team of friendly former tradies on staff, letting customers ask questions and get really good advice.
Reason #4: It makes you discoverable
Another benefit to adding an online store is that you can become discoverable to new customers, even in distant locations.
Your online store is more discoverable through Google and social media channels.
With so many people discovering brands, browsing products and making recommendations on social media, an e-commerce store with social media integrations can be a powerful tool.
How to set up an online store
Two popular e-commerce platforms are Shopify and Wix. These website builders are very user friendly, allowing just about anyone to set up an online store.
The platforms are very low cost and even give you a free trial, so you have very little to lose by giving it a test run to see how it goes for your business.
Shopify is our personal favourite e-commerce platform as it has been designed as a convenient all-in-one solution that any business, small or medium, can use.
Its most basic plan has more than enough features to give you a start in e-commerce and costs just AU$40 per month.
Shopify and Wix also have excellent social media integrations that let you connect your online store with your social media channels.
Do audience research
If you’re thinking about setting up an online store but are unsure about whether it’ll be profitable, it’s time to do some customer research.
You’ve got to understand who your customers are and how they shop for the product you’re offering.
Map out their buyer’s journey by considering what steps they take before making a purchasing decision. Do they do a lot of research before buying, or do they make a snap decision?
As for how to do customer research, your imagination is the only limit.
You can observe the demographics of the people popping into your store.
Or you can set up polls on Facebook to ask people how they heard about your product or how they like to shop or receive communications from you.
By working out how they like to shop, you can work out how to connect your marketing, online store and in-person store for a smooth and effective customer experience that can even boost your brand’s profile.
As an example of a seamless buyer’s journey, you could create brand or product awareness through social media channels such as Instagram and TikTok. Then by linking to your website or online store, users can browse your products before heading to you in person.
Is an online store right for you?
There’s no doubt that online stores have changed the way we shop forever. But the good news is that this won’t end physical stores any time soon.
By understanding how your customer likes to shop, you can connect your online presence and physical store so that you sell more than ever before.