Are you a small business owner or part of a start up business? If you’re thinking of launching your own business soon, or are part of a small business already running, take a look at our top 10 benefits of offering virtual shopping to your customers.
The top 10 benefits of virtual shopping:
- Increase Convenience
- Reach a Broader Customer Base
- Leverage Advertising Opportunities
- Interaction with Current Clients
- Instant Feedback
- Shopping Preference for Millennials
- Bring Shoppers to Your Storefront Location
- Keep Up With Everyone Else
- Virtual Shopping Works Full-Time
- Build Customer Trust
Here are the benefits in more detail:
1. Increase Convenience
Obviously, convenience is the aspect of online shopping that stands out the most. It's convenient for shoppers who may work long or odd hours and can't look for products before or after work during the week. It's helpful to those shoppers with small children, who would do anything not to have to load up the kids just to browse store shelves!
For those that can't easily leave the house, online shopping is going to be their primary method of buying. So whether you have a business that fulfills needs such as food, or one that provides a service or specialty goods, taking your business online is a must to gain today’s customers' business.
2. Reach a Broader Customer Base
Even if you are located in a large metropolitan area, location matters so much to any business or start up. A strong online presence, however, can also make a huge difference in gaining customers even if your location is not optimal. Even if you're working out of a small corner shop or perhaps your home, new customers will be able to find you with virtual shopping options.
Invest in an easy to navigate website and tie in social media platforms to allow your customers to share online. Quality photos and easily visible links on your website are also a necessity.
3. Leverage Advertising Opportunities
OK, advertising online may not exactly be free. However, customers will share their shopping experiences and even share great products on social media. This becomes the newest word-of-mouth that your business will rely on.
Think of those mom and pop shops and restaurants in small towns...the good ones are so popular because people share their experiences! We all naturally share the good and bad things we experience to our friends and families. If you have a great online business presence, customers will naturally share with friends.
Social media also allows you to promote your own business through giveaways and other means. As a note of advice, be sure to follow all of the terms and conditions of the social media platform you are using, and do your homework on learning what is and is not allowed.
4. Interaction with Current Clients
One great aspect of virtual shopping is being able to interact more with customers. For example, a customer service representative can chat in real time and let them know if a popular size of apparel is available. Even if the item isn't available, the customer has a better experience shopping since they didn't have to make an unnecessary trip to the store! Things like this can help the customer and business-owner both.
5. Instant Feedback
Along with that goes the advantage of real-time feedback on your products or services. Even if the customer had a bad experience, you as the business-owner can research the issue in a much more timely fashion. You can also see trends in your customer responses. Does the business consistently have great reviews? Or does everyone have problems with the online checkout, for example? Feedback is invaluable for these purposes.
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6. Shopping Preference for Millennials
For millennials, online shopping is the go-to. Whether it's from the desktop or laptop computer, shopping from a mobile device, or just seeing an ad while scrolling social media, the ability to be able to shop virtually is important for younger age groups.
7. Bring Shoppers to Your Storefront Location
Along the same lines of the advertising ability, you can also let customers know where you're located. Customers who may be new to the area, and those who typically shop the same few places may not even be aware of your storefront location.
With a great website and virtual shopping options, you can let shoppers know where the business is located and also offer incentives to have customers stop in and shop, like free shipping to store or additional savings.
8. Keep Up With Everyone Else
With strong competition and shoppers looking for faster, more convenient ways to shop, getting your business online is a necessity in this day in age. Even social media based virtual businesses can help increase your customer base, sales and more.
If you're unsure of how to get started with virtual sales, start small! Ask for recommendations from friends and family. Things to think of are:
- Organization: ensure online orders are accurate.
- Be Visual: Great photo quality is a must. If this isn't your strong point, consider enlisting help to provide customers with great photos of goods and services.
- Engage: This is especially important on social media platforms. Reply to questions, and encourage customers to share posts and comment.
9. Virtual Shopping Works Full-Time
Let's face it, there are times shoppers cannot easily get out and browse the stores in person. Typically in the spring we see warmer weather, and one thing everyone wants to do is get outdoors and maybe run a few errands, shop for new clothing, and just enjoy this time of year.
However, there are also those times we are all stuck inside. Whether it’s bad weather, illnesses, long work days, or other extenuating circumstances, customers still need to have access to shopping even if it's from home. Virtual business is so important to meet those needs.
10. Build Customer Trust
Finally, one other important aspect of having a virtual presence for business is just to increase customer trust and allow customers to verify the business. Having a website and secure purchasing allows customers to know they aren't falling for a scam. Unfortunately due to the presence of scams and false businesses, we all have to be careful as consumers. Customers may quickly research a business online before purchasing. This is great for both the consumer and the business itself, but also speaks to the importance of businesses having a good virtual presence.
Now’s the Time to Get Online
In conclusion, virtual shopping is an important aspect of commerce already, and becoming even more important as we move forward. Not only can customers more easily purchase online, but it's a must for many in our society today. Hopefully these tips are informative and helpful for small businesses who are considering offering virtual sales.