When Should You Add E-Commerce to Your Brick-and-Mortar Business?


Anna Johansson
Guest Contributor

Integrating online channels to complement your existing brick-and-mortar stores are a natural extension of your brand and can have real impact on your growth, and with choices of cost-effective solutions and intuitive platforms, it’s now easier than ever to get started.

For years, brick-and-mortar businesses have been closing shop and opening online stores. But e-commerce isn’t something you should only pursue as a backup plan. When correctly executed, it’s something you can pursue as a second stream of revenue for your existing stores.

4 Signs It’s Time to Dip into E-Commerce

Knowing when to make the move into e-commerce can be tricky, but at some point, you have to take a leap of faith. Here are some signs it’s the right time to dip your toes into e-commerce. 

1. Dwindling Sales

There are plenty of subjective reasons for brick-and-mortar businesses to think about trying e-commerce, but let’s start with some objectivity. As you consider this decision, study your sales numbers over the past few months. If your numbers are improving and you’re seeing substantial growth, your time and energy is probably best spent focusing on the things you’re already doing. If sales are dwindling, then it’s the perfect time to explore other options.

Dwindling sales can be caused by any number of factors, but a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses are discovering that e-commerce is to blame. By launching a small e-commerce presence, you can offset some of this and give your sales figures a much-needed boost.

2. Competition Moving Online

You never want to be the sort of business owner who makes important decisions based solely on what your competitors are doing, but it is wise to keep tabs on their overall growth strategies. If you notice all your competitors are going online, this is probably an indication that you need to at least explore e-commerce. There’s a reason and you don’t want to be the last one to discover why.

3. Simple and Cost-Effective Tools

Honestly, the cost-effective nature of developing an e-commerce website in today’s business world is one of the biggest reasons to try it out. With cost no longer a prohibiting factor, there’s very little risk involved.

You don’t need a background in web development or design to get started. All you need is to select an intuitive website builder and you’re good to go. Most people start by comparing BigCommerce vs. Shopify, since these are two of the most popular options. After a little research, you’ll see how easy it can be. 

4. Desire to Grow Your Brand

There’s something to be said for having a business that’s firmly planted in a local community. However, if your goal is to significantly grow your brand, you’re going to have to launch new stores in different towns and cities – which is costly and time-intensive.

E-commerce will allow you to grow your brand on a global scale without the massive amounts of resources required when building out new stores. With a simple website and some digital marketing, you can reach people all over the world and still retain your brick-and-mortar presence in your local community.

E-Commerce: An Untapped Opportunity

It’s long past time to stop viewing e-commerce and brick-and-mortar as an either/or scenario. As many successful businesses are currently showing, you can operate a brick-and-mortar business and launch an e-commerce arm at the same time.

If you’re still unsure of whether or not an e-commerce venture is right for you, try it out for a couple of months and see what the data tells you. Thanks to cost-effective solutions and intuitive platforms, it’s now easier than ever to get started. Don’t let anything hold you back.

About the writer: Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.comForbes.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter @Number1AnnaJo and LinkedIn.

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @RetailNext, as well as atwww.facebook.com/retailnext.