Or if you don’t have one yet, and are planning to put up one, then consider this thought… Encouraging thought, ain’t it?
If you have the time, try buying and reading Chris Anderson’s bestselling book entitled “The Long Tail – Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More“. The book’s not necessarily an earth-shaking revelation. It’s more of an eye-opener. It’ll explain in full the principles behind the theory of the Long Tail. Briefly, this book tells us that advances in technology, primarily, the Internet, has allowed us, the average individual, to take advantage of the new opportunities of creating businesses in non-traditional medium, that is, primarily (again), the Internet.
The book is full of examples of actual, successful cases such as Amazon.com (for books), Netflix (videos), Rhapsody (for music). And from these examples, you’ll see why it makes sense to sell less of more and why it’ll make sense to sell even the most obscure book title or music title (niche markets).
This is a helpful book for entrepreneurs, specifically those in the business of retailing, who are looking for alternative, very cost-effective ways of selling. Attendant costs in putting up physical stores in malls, tiangges (flea markets), or any other commercial areas are pretty high nowadays. We’re all aware of the headache of having to:
- Pay for monthly overheads (i.e. rentals, utilities, staff salaries, etc.)
- Stock up and maintain inventory
- Ensure that the inventory of items gets sold
- Pay for real and implied “shelf” space costs
Related to the last bullet listed above, the business owner must be able to identify products that will, hopefully, be fast moving ones (the bestsellers). This entails time to research and getting a good feel of what your market wants. If you haven’t got the time for that, won’t it be much better just to sell everything you have on stock or anything that you can get hold of from your supplier without the need to assess whether an item is worth carrying or not?
THE SETS OF SENSE BEHIND MOVING YOUR RETAIL SHOP ONLINE:
- Cost Savings —> As the article in the link above also says… You immediately eliminate monthly expenses from your books. You’re rid of the troubles of managing a myriad of things. You can set up your “retail outlet” at your home, in your garage, at your office desk (just make sure the Boss doesn’t see you!!!). All you would need to pay for on a monthly basis will be an internet connection. Suggest you subscribe to an internet broadband connection (e.g. DSL, Cable Modem, Wireless 3G connections for those on the go).
- Relatively Small Investment Cost —> Hmmm…. Off the bat, you would need to invest in a PC or a Laptop. Depends with you. Now, if you would need to immediately project a professional image by having your own domain (i.e. the http://www.yourdomain.com) for your website, then you would need to register one and have it hosted. Other than that, you can establish an online presence for FREE in any existing internet marketplace such as eBay or by creating your own site via a free blog service (see this related post).
- Ability to sell ANYTHING —> With online retailing, you can have on stock, as inventory of items for sale, ANYTHING without having to pay for the usual costs of carrying an item in a physical store. If you have excess, slow moving stuff in a warehouse and are paying for warehousing costs on a monthly basis, then have such items moved to your place. OR, if you are going to start selling in your online shop and don’t want to go through the trouble of shelling out valuable Pesos for stock, then you can talk to a supplier and arrange for the items you like to be consigned to you. When an item gets sold, that’s the time you turnaround, pay your supplier for the item, and HAVE THEM ship such items to your buyer (i.e. of course, if your supplier is agreeable to do this arrangement).
To expound on the last bullet: CAVEAT EMPTOR. Small Online Retailers must realize that for them to be able to effectively sell ANYTHING in their website, they must keep in mind the following:
- CONTENT. More views can translate to getting your products exposed. Better exposure, better probability of generating a sale. Now, the question is, “How can I drive more traffic to my site?”. Answer is CONTENT. Create interesting, if not, compelling content such as articles, facts, stories, pictures, what have you. Related to your offering, obviously. Once you’ve come up with the platform for your content, then you can build the…
- COMMUNITY. Having a community means having customer lock-in. Or “stickiness”. Your loyal site visitors stay glued and stuck to what you are offering them by way of education, entertainment, and commerce. An interactive and very participative online store is key. A friend of mine has a number of growing communities, and he is doing well in this, and this, and this… It takes time to build the community. You can’t do it overnight. But it’s gotta start somewhere. I can already see the next logical steps which my good friend will take… full-blown Exchanges. 😉
- CHOICE. Make sure that there is a mechanism or a feature built into your site that will help reduce the “noise down the tail”. Noise down the tail refers to the ensuing confusion that a prospect is bound to experience given the numerous choices of goods he is suddenly faced with. In other words, your site must have a feature that will help or aid your buyers in making a choice from among the varied items you are selling. Examples:
- (1) You may place a recommendation to try this and/or that item (normally, a link to your slow moving ones) in the description of every item or product you are selling. This’ll help generate interest and help direct your customers to even the most obscure of items in your lot.
- (2) Come up with a REVIEW / RECOMMMENDATION area or corner. A good example will be Amazon’s book reviews and recommendation portion at the bottom of the web page of every book you are looking at. This mechanism helps consumers decide which book to buy. It aids in the selection process. I particularly like the feature in Amazon.com that tells you which other titles were bought by those who bought the book you are interested to buy.
I see quite a number of retail shops in malls and in commercial buildings which are practically lifeless, with nary a buzz of customer activity. If only they can move out to a new location (like to the www dot …. dot com mentioned in the link above), think of the amount of money they can save in a month, in a year. That resource could’ve been diverted to more productive use.
Again, caveat emptor. There will be items that will sell very well online. And there will be items that will not sell at all. But the point is this….
There is now an alternative channel that you can explore, and probably, initially experiment with.
You can probably go:
- Click-and-Mortar first (physical store with an online presence).
- Or have a Click and a Mortar store (online store AND a physical store at the same time).
- Or just a purely Click Store (do away with the physical and just maintain an Online presence).
- Or, just stick with the Brick-and-Mortar setup (if you are really not into internet and computers and tech stuff).
Different things click with different people (pun intended, naturally).