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Updated: March 27th, 2020
So you have a retail storefront with a burgeoning clientele and business is booming — congratulations! It’s not easy growing any company to this stage, and it’s something only achieved by grit and know-how. But now, you might be trying to figure out how to take the next step.
Maybe your stockroom is overflowing and you’re wondering how you’ll sell it all. Or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to best grow your business. Or maybe you’re just curious whether your business can cut it in the age of the Amazon empire (a problem even Walmart is trying to figure out).
We’ve seen a lot of growing businesses, so we know a thing or two about when a business is ready to sell online. Here are a few ways to tell it could be a good idea to make the leap:
If you sell something specific to where your storefront is located — say, “I <3 NY” magnets and other local wares aimed at tourists — it might not make much sense to try to sell farther away. After all, you want people to actually come to your town for souvenirs. But if your wares have broader market appeal (like our friends at Maika Goods!), why not consider casting a wider net?
In business, you need to be where the customers are — and if most people are hanging out downtown while your business is in a small alleyway off the main drag, you might not get much unplanned foot traffic. But if you still manage to have a loyal clientele, congratulations! You’re clearly doing something right. In this case, being online (and being savvy about SEO) could help new customers find you — and buy!
…for both you and the customer! Thanks to Amazon and other big-box retailers, many consumers expect fast, free shipping — and you may need to offer the same to stay competitive. This could be easy if you sell handmade jewelry, but becomes a little trickier if you sell custom hot tubs. Do some research to see what shipping might cost, and decide whether that’s an expense you can pass on to the customer, or whether the increased sales would make up for the shipping expense.
It might be hard to compete with Amazon if you’re selling The New York Times’ Best Sellers. But if you have a niche (say, rare historical novels) or a unique product (such as artisan jewelry), it becomes easier to carve out a space for yourself. A few quick Google searches will help you size up the competition.
Sometimes it’s tough to tell what the right choice will be. But when you’re ready to grow, you know what they say: grow big or grow home!
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.