The First Steps in Adding Ecommerce to a Brick-and-mortar Shop

Brick-and-mortar retail organizations are turning toward ecommerce to make revenue — online and click-and-collect. As they make this digital transformation, those merchants will likely have questions about ecommerce platforms, subjects, and design. While they all are significant, a company’s first focus should be on advertising and products, in my experience.

The action of merchandising and selling a product in a physical store is fundamentally different than promoting and selling the same product on the internet.


Consider the benefits of physical retailing. In a physical store, a shopper can look after a product before purchasing it. He can, for example, get a new kitchen knife, feel its weight, and gauge how it fits in his hands. In some stores, he could even chop a few carrots before making the buying decision.

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Similarly, a mother shopping for kids’ clothes can get the fabric and have her child try on an outfit or two. For questions, a clerk is not far off.

A retail clerk may answer product questions in real time and on a personal level. Photo: BBH Singapore.

Furthermore, a physical location can be its own kind of promotion.

An art supply store in a popular shopping center may have thousands of potential customers drive past it every day. Some of these passersby will see the store’s sign for ages. When those folks demand a sketchbook and artwork pens for their children’s drawing class, the brick-and-mortar store could come to mind.


Conversely, selling a kitchen knife, children’s clothing, sketchbooks, or anything on the net differs. Product images, product descriptions, and inventory management are crucial for ecommerce but may be hard for brick-and-mortar companies selling online for the first time.

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Pictures. To advertise a product hanging on a hook at a physical store, a merchant simply needs the solution as well as the hook. Online, however, a merchant requires at least one photo to represent the item.

A merchant can either picture every product or, instead, acquire photos from the manufacturer or distributor. Both these tasks more time consuming than what one might imagine.

At one of Sur La Table’s physical stores, a shopper could manage this knife before spending $399 to buy it. But on the net, the knife is represented with a picture.

It’s not uncommon for a shop to get tens of thousands of SKUs and dozens of vendors. When it chose to download product photographs from those vendors, a retail business would expect somebody to speak to every vendor, access the images, download and organize themperhaps edit themand upload them in the ecommerce website — replicated hundreds of times.

But a methodical approach can help.

  • Identify your organization’s top-selling items and prioritize them.
  • Devote the labor necessary to upload and download pictures.
  • Automate the process as soon as possible.
  • If desired, use snapshots from mobile phones as placeholders.

Superior product photos are more significant than a perfectly designed website when you’re getting started.

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Descriptions. Product descriptions are extremely like product pictures: You don’t need them in a physical store and creating them for an ecommerce site is a bigger task than you could imagine.

Whether your company decides to write these or copy them from a manufacturer — never replicate a item description without express permission, however — the steps will be comparable to those for images.

  • Focus on the best-selling things .
  • Devote the labor into the project, or outsource.
  • Automate the process if possible.
  • Publish products without descriptions if necessary.
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Inventory management. Imagine a series with 15 physical stores. Each store has one espresso machine — 15 company-wide.

In reference to managing stock on an ecommerce platform, what are the available amounts for this espresso machine?

If it plans to fulfill from every place, the organization might presume 15 machines are available to advertise online. But that could be a problem.

What if three stores had a incorrect inventory count? Instead of having one server in stock, they had none. And what if two other stores tossed the boxes because the espresso machines are on display? Those stores would have no way to ship them. And what if customers are buying the espresso machines in four other stores right now?

To make matters worse, stock counts may be off by a lot if the show’s physical point-of-sale system doesn’t automatically update the ecommerce site.

The solution depends upon a merchant’s systems and capabilities. But knowing that inventory quantities may be a problem goes a long way toward a fix.


The aforementioned art supply store resides in a popular shopping center, has a physical sign, and is known to thousands of possible clients.

Nobody will see the company, however, when it opens online. A shopper could try to find the store by title on Google or Bing, but there is no guarantee that those search engines have indexed the new website yet.

Thus it’s not enough to begin an ecommerce store. Merchants must promote and market it. Marketing for a new ecommerce site should use a merchant’s traditional channels along with new ones, such as pay-per-click and film advertisements.

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By means of example, a merchant should continue with radio commercials but now include the new digital offering. Likewise a series should keep on adding circulars in the local newspaper, but again, now highlight online or click-and-collect services.

Marketing a new ecommerce shop is often more important than the platform, the motif, and other design components.

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