• Justin Wanstall
  • 25 Mar 2021

What is local eCommerce and how can I utilise it?

Local eCommerce is using your online shop to sell only to a local audience 24 hours a day seven days a week.

How this is possible is a very different question and something I look to explore further in this article.

Many, bricks and mortar retailers choose not to sell online due to concern about the costs of managing delivery and returns. When in reality, it doesn't have to be like that.

We are seeing consumers increasingly prefer to shop locally to see if the product they are looking for is offered, and we have even seen Google jump on the bandwagon with TV adverts encouraging people to support local businesses; the cynical side in me would actually say, “has this been done to hinder Amazon’s monopoly in the online sphere but that’s for another day”!? But that’s a debate for another time.

How can you sell locally through an online store? 

There are many ways you can sell your products online, even if you’re a local store, are there are an array of key tricks of the trade that can help you see growth in our list below:

Understand who you’re talking to 

We continue to be successful in business because we provide something customers want and need. In the new world of local eCommerce your customer's want, and needs may be slightly different from what you normally deal with.

Do they expect a click-and-collect service, a delivery service, a pre-ordering service or a subscription service, etc.? Ask these questions to your current customers and factor them into your everyday service and promote them online.

“Offline” it’s about the experience, “Online” is about convenience. Make sure you factor this into your plans.

As important, where will this online audience find you and who are they? What do they value, where do spend their time online, what are they likely to do to find you, what do they not like? Factor these questions into any plan you’re looking to do.

Build an eCommerce website

This may seem common sense but having your own website will help you sell online locally.

There are plenty of platforms out there to help you sell and three of our more flexible favourites are:

  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • A headless build

Benefits to the above? They are powerful enough for you to grow the business, and to grow with you, and you can combine them with your POS system.

Although, a website is not your only option, it’s just the strongest one. You can use platforms such as social media to your advantage, especially Facebook Shop, to create your own online shop using social media.

Stop people buying outside your service radius

Take the fear out of excess delivery costs, or any delivery costs, and make sure your website is set up to provide a click-and-collect service and/or a delivery service that is exclusively available to people within a certain area.

Update web users if you deliver to a postcode through a search bar that either confirms or denies that they are in your company’s delivery range. This information can be tracked and the data invaluable, helping you to see which areas are showing interest, and which aren't.

Constantly getting requests from a postcode you currently don’t serve? Make a commercial argument to see if it is worth expanding your operation for a return of investment.

Bridge the gap between offline and online

In your shop promote your website, social media pages, newsletter. Essentially, whatever your target audience is more likely to engage with digitally.

You can easily rely on digital to promote your services to the local area and you will attract a new audience but being a local business means you can do something no digital footprint can. You can make it personal. A smile, a positive conversation, a warm welcome, all things that online will struggle to replicate and something that costs nothing but makes all the difference when it comes to customer loyalty and growing your audience.

Use the data and work out your strategy

A website is not just a selling tool it is one of your biggest research partners. Use the website to gather as much data as possible to define your next commercial steps.

Key bits of info you can gain from a website to help you develop your business:

  1. What areas are individuals currently interested but we’re unable to deliver to?
  2. What products are constantly being searched for on our website that we do not provide?
  3. What is our cost per enquiry for our marketing channels, for example, paid advertising or social media? Are we getting a good enough margin to sell through these mediums?
  4. How do they find your website? Is it through search engines, social media, other websites etc.
  5. What products are our most popular?

Data is a helpful tool to begin expanding your audience and catering to the demand your market is receiving, allowing you to piece together a solid strategy catering to the behaviour patterns and interests of your audience.

Market the website

Around 80% of new consumers will find you online. Be that through social media, finding you on a search engine and/or finding you in a local online marketplace such as Etsy.

If you have followed the advice from this article, you already know who your audience is and where they “hang out” online. With this knowledge make sure you are marketing to them to build awareness and loyalty to your shop.

If you need help selling online, or you want a website/piece of software to help sell to your local audience please do get in touch with us and one of our experts will help you.

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