A Year with A New Online Store
When a traditional brick and mortar store decides to open an online storefront, most would assume that it would be as easy as setting up a web presence, adding products, and voila! The reality is it takes months of planning, adjusting, re-adjusting, and finalizing. Here are five things we learned in just over a year.
- It’s never as easy as you think it will be. After many starts, attempts, and stalls, we found the right website developers at the right time. But this was only the first step in this marathon. When you are a retailer that not only sells their own products but other brands as well, things become a little more complicated. Permissions must be obtained, policies and agreements must be signed, your shoes must be laced and you need to stay hydrated for the long haul.
- Be specific. Communication is key when working with outside developers. Assuming they will know what you want or that they understand your internal lingo without you specifically telling them can lead to extra work down the road. Always be specific about what you want, even if it seems obvious to you; it’s better to be clear than to make assumptions.
- Just like with a brick and mortar business, you can’t be everything to everyone. When developing the website, we found ourselves second-guessing what our future customers would need or want from our site. Would they prefer this checkout method versus another? Would it be better to place a link in one place versus another? The fact is, there is no way to tell exactly how your customers will react to your site. We found the solution was to build a site that we would use, get feedback from customers as they used it, then made modifications that made the online shopping experience even easier for our customers. While you won’t make every change that customers requests (it’s not practical, plus what works for one may not work for fifty), if you get the same feedback over and over, it’s worth taking a deeper look into the potential issue.
- What sells in your brick and mortar store won’t necessarily sell online. Lenny’s is known for the wide selection of work boots and Carhartt we carry in our stores. You wouldn’t know it by looking at our online sales. We’ve found that hard-to-find pair of clogs or those unique to us items sell quite well, whereas products that have a highly saturated market do not sell as well. Be choosy when selecting items to put on your site.
- Results do not happen overnight, but all data is important. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re not going to make millions overnight. It takes a lot of work and finesse. But the most important thing you can do from the beginning is to make sure all the data from your sales are coming in through your analytics portal of choice. Data should inform the vast majority of the decisions you make about your site from what you put on your site to the changes you make regarding the design. Depending on the level of data you’re gathering, you can pinpoint where you are losing customers and forecast what will sell based on your market.
This only scratches the surface of what we have seen so far. It’s been a year of learning for all of us as we embark into the eCommerce realm. We thank all of those customers and employees that have shopped at LennyShoe.com and provided feedback. We look forward to serving you both online and in-store for many years to come. As always, we are still local, still family.