Ecommerce has been around for a while. While it’s been dominated largely by online retail giants like Amazon, there’s a growing trend with smaller businesses looking to compete. Smaller brick-and-mortar businesses that haven’t traditionally had an online presence have begun to rethink their strategy, transitioning their formerly storefront-only strategies to new tactics that include eCommerce—with outstanding results.
The process of moving from brick-and-mortar to online stores isn’t as daunting as it might seem. Most brick-and-mortar stores already have digital records of the products they sell, and in many cases, inventory databases can be mined for data or converted for use in an online store quite easily. It’s a move that more and more small businesses are making, and new tools and services are being developed every day that makes the process easier. Let’s take a look at a handful of businesses that have transitioned to eCommerce sites and have discovered the benefits of having an online presence.
Bliss, a spa and retail company headquartered in New York City, recently launched a new online website showcasing their line of bath, body, and skincare products. Since making this move, Bliss has seen their online sales rival those of their brick-and-mortar shops.
Though they have, in the past, been carried in both the brick-and-mortar and online retail stores of chains like Target, Ulta, and Kohl’s, the decision to transition to their own branded brick-and-mortar was driven by the promise of increased sales and brand awareness that eCommerce provides.
Likewise, an artisanal chocolate company based out of Detroit called Bon Bon Bon expanded their brick-and-mortar presence to an online retail shop that showcases the creativity and charm of their storefront business. This strategy allowed them to engage online customers that may have been otherwise unreachable. Their site captures the eclectic, unique energy of the existing brick-and-mortar and enables them to reach a much broader audience, while still maintaining their specific character.
Another fantastic example of the retail power eCommerce can grant a brick-and-mortar store is Medly Pharmacy, a chain of stores in New York and New Jersey. Although the founders of Medly have extensive experience in running traditional storefronts, they increased revenue by making the move toward establishing an online presence. They have even integrated an app into their business plan that allows their customers to manage their prescriptions by scheduling pickups, refilling prescriptions, and even arranging for free same-day delivery.
Family-run Concord Pet Food and Supplies, based in Wilmington, Delaware, has also seen significant growth since launching an online presence that augmented their traditional storefront sales. By leveraging their brand of excellent customer service, personal care, and attention to detail, Concord Pet Food and Supplies has been able to compete with larger competitors like PetSmart and Petco.
By making the transition to eCommerce, they’re able to remain competitive and retain their customer share by branching out from their traditional brick-and-mortar presence.
Ontario-based Van Noort Flowers Studio is another example of a small business that has leveraged an online presence to serve new and existing customers, while still emphasizing their brick-and-mortar location. While they do have a variety of floral arrangements available online, they invite website visitors to visit them at their physical store location, and even offer them the option of scheduling an appointment for dedicated service.
The transition from brick-and-mortar alone to a strong web presence makes a lot of sense. Using some of the most recently available statistics, we can see that total retail sales rose by 3.6% from 2016 to 2017—but the eCommerce share of those sales represented a 16% increase over the same period of time. Brick-and-mortar sales alone saw only a 2% increase—making the case for adding an online eCommerce site to a traditional brick-and-mortar business compelling.
When you look at shopping preferences of various demographic groups, there’s an even stronger indication that eCommerce is a good move for traditional brick-and-mortar only stores to pursue. The Balance SMB, a website dedicated to small businesses, cites some interesting statistics regarding age demographics and online purchasing preferences.
While only 28% of seniors prefer shopping online and 41% of baby boomers will go to the web to make a purchase, younger groups (which increasingly make up the bulk of the buying sector) prefer online shopping to brick-and-mortar stores for a variety of reasons. 56% of Gen-Xers prefer online shopping, and the younger Millennial demographic prefers online to brick-and-mortar by more than two-thirds: 67% cite the ease, convenience, and ability to have purchases delivered as their reasons for preferring to do their shopping online.
If you own or operate a business that’s based in the brick-and-mortar space, there’s no better time to make the transition to eCommerce. Consult with the experts at Listing Mirror today to learn how they can help you
Erin is the Co-Founder of Listing Mirror.