Have a local business that wants to sell online? Focus first on the existing customers. That’s one of the lessons with Rural OmniLocal.
This article is adapted from an interview I did with Bob Dunn. Hear the whole interview or read the transcript at BobWP.com
Every independent business has customers right now who visit them in person to buy. Those same customers use their phones, tablets and computers to buy from other businesses online. Focusing on your existing customers and just making life easier for them to do business with you, is the best place to get started on an eCommerce project.
If you own a local store, start by thinking, “how do my existing customers use technology? I know they go online to order things, so how could I make a site or a way to buy that’s just going to make it easier for them?”
You don’t have to think about serving that huge mass of people online who you don’t know and don’t understand. Just think about your people you know so very well and how you can make it easier for them to buy from you.
That might be having a website where they can order online. It might having an app so that they can make a purchase from their phone, or it may be integrating with existing apps. Maybe there’s an easy way for you to integrate with existing messenger channels or chatbots that are available now. Maybe your chamber or local business group has an existing site or app, or maybe your state’s buy-local campaign or agritourism site would be a good match. These are all channels you can start to take advantage of.
Maybe the best way is to do a monthly subscription box. Set it up so people can pay online automatically. They don’t have to come to the store every month to pay. You know your customers and what they want. Leverage that to send packages of delight to them every month.
You know so much about your existing customers, it’s easier to analyze their habits to figure out what’s a better way to serve them than thinking of the unknown masses out there. You don’t have any data on that huge unknown audience. You don’t know who they are. You have to start from the anonymous perspective of how many consumers there are in the US, their average spending in your category, how many are in your demographic categories. It’s daunting.
Your existing customers are less daunting because you know about them, and you can find out a lot more by asking some questions and listening to them. This is a much better leverage point than the generic mass of people that might be out there somewhere.
This article is adapted from an interview I did with Bob Dunn about taking local businesses online for eCommerce. Hear the whole interview or read the transcript at BobWP.com
Insights on eCommerce, Rural Businesses and Omni-Local with Becky McCray
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