You have a “brick and mortar-store” and it’s a successful one: for several years, you have been in charge of its operations, you know your products and providers, you have a good relationship with your customers and your team knows how to sell. The next natural step, specially regarding this new online market, for sure is open an online store. You are the one to do that and nothing can goes wrong, right?
Nothing is too far from reality. Unfortunately, lots of conventional entrepreneurs think like that and risk their success everyday just because they thought that it would be easy. Not only them, several new entrepreneurs go to bankruptcy common thinking is that “opening an online store is easy, easier than opening a conventional store”. Far, far from reality!
So, what you can do to verify if your company/you are ready to go online? There are more questions but these ones can help you on your search. Before going online, answer these questions:
- Do you have previous experience with the products you are intended to sell? Do you really know about it or just “hear someone talking about their advantages”? You can’t sell something you don’t really know and when I say know is real knowledge about them.
- Do you know the market? I mean, are you already working on this market and dealing with the target, even in a conventional store or everything about this public will be news for you?
- Do you think people buy online in the same way they buy offline? Can you realize that between these channels, people behavior are different and you must deliver different things to attend different expectations?
- Have you got a plan? A market research? A strategy and marketing plan? Even a Canvas Business Model? Or are you among several new entrepreneurs who think ‘for virtual stores you don’t need planning’?
- Area you aware that virtual stores can cost as much as conventional stores? This means that you should not open an online store just because you think that it’s cheap and easy to do that. You must have a site, a hosting provider, an inventory, a building to keep them stocked, a team to handle orders and customer requests, marketing campaigns and so on. Your budget may not be of high figures to rent and prepare a building to get your customers but a site can be expensive too.
- Finally, are you aware that your competitors are global and anyone can compete with you and take your customer off of you? You are not in local market anymore; opening a virtual store takes you to the next level and difficulties will be bigger.
As always, I’m not telling you to not open a virtual store. Just make sure you are ready to go online and to be prepared before this happens. Being prepared doesn’t guarantee your success but will avoid a big headache. Good luck!