Flipping the virtual “on switch” does not generate automatic online sales. Now it’s about answering the “Now What?”
Having an online sales channel is just the starting point. Now it is all about the buying/ordering experience and not just a pretty web site. Now you must connect with customers across a variety of channels and platforms as well as begin to develop your customer’s new online purchasing habits. You must diversify, both in terms of how you put yourself out there and how you bring people in. You will need to have multi-channel strategies that allow you to reach your target audience and be able to leverage the digital advertising opportunities available to generate traffic and increase sales.
But did you take the time to answer the "Now What?". I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with, that I did not start their online sales channel process with, but was asked to come in after they launched to figure out the “Now What?” The first things I hear are, “Where is the traffic, where are the orders, how do I know who is even visiting our site?” Which is exactly why the “Now What” needs to be answered, and well planned out, during the beginning stages of developing your new sales channel not when you are ready to launch.
Think of it this way, when a new restaurant unlocks its doors for its grand opening people don’t just serendipitously know and start piling in. There is a build-up period and that build-up period begins once you commit to creating an online sales channel.
Here are a few action items to help you prepare for the "Now What?":
Marketing/Advertising- once you have committed to adding an online sales channel, a monthly marketing campaign needs to be planned out, from inception to launch and beyond. Identify the marketing/advertising channels you will be using and who will be responsible for maintaining/updating this information. Prepare two press releases: publish one when announcing your new online sales channel and publish the other at launch.
Also you need to know:
- Which social media outlets will you utilize?
- Are you where you want to be with SEO?
- How will you promote items for sale, specials, close outs?
- Who will be responsible for social media postings?
Direct Connect with Customers- you need to be building up the excitement with your current customers about all of the benefits they will experience with the new online sales channel. Include in all of your current advertising/marketing a blurb about the new online sales channel that is “Coming Soon!” Get your customers familiar with the positive change that is coming by including updates in information they are already comfortable with. Send out eblasts or newsletters to your current customers highlighting such benefits as ease and efficiency of ordering online, online accounts that will keep track of their purchases, reporting features, being able to make purchases 24/7, etc. Don’t blindside them by making an announcement once you’ve gone live.
Customer Training- develop a webinar for online training or host several lunch and learns prior to launch so that you can, not only demonstrate the new online sales channel, but answer any questions in person and ease any concerns live. When I say “Customers”, keep in mind this is internal and external. Your external customers want to know that this new way of ordering is not going to be disruptive, that it will be simple and efficient, and above all else EASY. Your internal customers need to know the guts of how the system works, how are online orders handled, picked-up, delivered and mostly they need to feel confident when dealing with customers.
Remember, having a new online sales channel is just the starting point. Planning for the "Now What?" before you have flipped that virtual "on button" is much more important than having the online sales channel. Keep in mind my analogy of the restaurant opening, you can be the best chef in the universe and serve the best food of all time, but if no one knows how to find you......you get the point.