Does anyone have any suggestions on how to start an online store, and is it too late? We are simply trying to compliment the retail we currently have out of a brick/mortar store. Thank you, Jamie
I looked into e-tailing a while back, but dropped it because to do it right would take some serious investment in setting up the online store and keeping things up to date and I didn't have the time and money to invest in it.
I don't think that it is too late. Yes, there are a number of online pool stores that sell products online at a very cheep price, but these stores are not value added experiences. They are basically a catalog. If you could make a store that mirrors your brick and mortar store in that it advises the customer as to what product would work best for them, then such a store could fill a niche that is currently not being filled.
I think it depends on how involved you want to be, Jamie. Do you want to offer everything that you have in the storefront location on the web? Some items you most likely won't be able to compete on, and shipping is another concern. If you can find some niche items that work in your area or that you know you can compete on, that is a good place to start.
We have an eCommerce page (www.pstpoolsupplies.com) and we do well on some items (Hayward/Goldline flow switches, for example) and not so good on other items (pumps and filters, which we cannot compete and shipping kills us!).
It depends on what you are trying to achieve, how well you buy and how you control your shipping costs. It's never too late to start something, especially if you have competitively priced items and great service!
The above comments are great and there is a lot to consider. First, an online store is a business that need serious attention to be successful. Just setting up a simple eCommerce page or using one of the low cost eCommerce "hosting" services will not get the job done. They can work if you already have a captive and responsive audience, but are not good platforms to build a business to attract a barrage of new customers.
Next, understand that the days of "being" on the web having any meaning at all are over. The web is a highly competitive arena recognized for it's outstanding potential and attracting HUGE marketing dollars. In that light, you will need a strategic and continual optimization plan to get your site found in the search. On top of that you will need a "paid" web ads plan as well. (AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc.)
It is definitely not too late but to make it work will be a serious investment. You will need site maintenance and customer support staff, (one person with the right qualifications would do at first, but they need to be sharp), a "real" eCommerce site, and an pretty good ad and optimization budget.
The eCommerce site I recommend is a "Magento" based site. These are very powerful, socially integrated, full blown sites, but need to be custom setup for each company. We build these and you can expect to invest between $6,000 and $22,000 for the site depending on what you need to do and how engaged in the process you are. (probably the lower end of the scale for your purposes)
These sites compete well if you specialize in unique items and offer incredible and guaranteed service. A LOT of people surf the web, but a substantial number still buy locally for pool products.
Also, as this is a business, you should consider the alternatives, like... opening additional satellite stores.
If you want to talk about specifics just give me a call. 480-788-4024 (cell)
Either way... good luck and best wishes to you!
We are Completly Redoing our website and adding an Online Store. I have a great We designer if you need one. I dont think its ever too late to add to your Revenue! It also provides friendly shopping for customers. They might not know you had a cetain product until they see it. There might be other products you offer online only?
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Thinking about just adding a way for customers to order product on our web site and have it ready for pick up at store .Iam sure others offer this service .Please let me know if it has been positive. Thanks