Which should I do first, sell my products online or set up a physical location?
I have been making blankets and baby clothes for quite a while. I started selling some of my products. I want to expand my business now and I have received a lot of requests from family and friends and friends of friends. Should I set up a physical store where people can come and see my goods or should I stick to online sales right now? What factors should I consider other then the cost of rent?
I think that a good start point is an online business that would allow you the flexibility to increase as you grow, with less fixed costs and you can explore the social media ( Facebook Fanpage, Instragran, Pinterest) to advertise and also to get customer feedback on products improvement.
Then after a successful online sales track you would have a better customer understand and logistics knowledge that will better support you on open a physical location.
Why would you bother opening a shop when you seem to have customers and successful referral scheme in place. If people place orders and you can deliver, then keep going! And congrats by the way.
If you struggle with delivery (i.e. too many orders), hire and train people to make the blankets and baby clothes? Is your business only local? If so, get your employees to work at your place; build a great culture. Produce more; then dispatch.
Do you produce on demand or do you have a catalogue? I guess you have a website where people can view the products and buy online?
Depending on your business model and the stage you're at, then opening a store should an opportunity to do more than just being a retailer? Think Apple Store! What can people do when they come to your place? There's a baby theme associated to your business: what can you do to build and nurture a community of mums (and dads!) who would come to your shop for an Experience and a sense of belonging. Love the Brand as much as the Product!
I hope this helps.
If you are receiving ample enough orders to keep you and your resources fully involved you should stick to your current set up only.
Connections of known people, family and friends will automatically keep you moving and take you to a bigger structure. In these days even huge structures operate through online visibility and website.I would strongly suggest a virtual set up for you also online .
One more suggestion is to keep building a database of customers and start to set up regular communication with them through newsletters , introduction of new launches , sending catalogs, sentiments sharing like company events, anniversaries, birthday wishes etc.
Physical store has rent , maintenance, utilities, telecommunication, security , safety , environment , employee costs, insurance of product and premises, waste management etc. There will be a huge fixed cost element once you will move into an independent premises.
Staying online will keep you much more focused on product quality and customer satisfaction. The costs will be more variable in nature which will help you fixing a good price for your products and earn on order to order basis .
A time will come itself that you will be prompted to move into an independent premises but till then you should not get impatient to go into a bigger structure.
Wish you all the best .
RENT WILL KILL YOUR PROFIT! Not to mention your quality of life because someone has to be at the physical location, and that someone will be YOU! Do you need help with an online store?
If I were you, I would look for ways to minimize a lot of expenses initially. I would create my online store and open a calendar for events in my area in where maybe 2-3 times a month (during different hours) I would exhibit my work. This will allow me to control expenses, but at the same time have a physical presence with potential customers who want to get in touch and see the quality of my products in their hands. I would arrange an exquisite event where I would call them my VIP clients and take orders right away.
Sometimes is not just having a brick and mortar store, it is more of uniqueness, quality, and service. Make them feel cared and even pamper for, and you will save on cost while bringing sales in.
After a couple of successful events, THEN you can think carefully - do I need a physical store now? Why? Can I negotiate the place and price? Can I team up with someone to eliminate costs? Etc.
Success to you,
Here's how I look at it: how many blankets and baby outfits do you have to sell just to cover the rent on a new location -- before you can put a dime in your pocket? Without even crunching the numbers, I would suspect that you have to sell a lot more to pay physical rent than virtual rent. Good luck, and I am with everyone else - go online first.
If your looking for a web designer, I can certainly help you. Feel free to connect and we can discuss your options to maximize your business potential and get your company looking its best. I can offer you a full branding package including logo design, website, hosting, business cards, SEO and promotional material.
I agree with everyone that mentioned selling globally on-line is the best idea. If you decide to go this route, then you need a first class website, designed for ease of use for your potential customers and consumer oriented. You also need a social presence on facebook, twitter, instagram. If you are looking for direction, PM me and I will be glad to help.
Lynn, I would most certainly invest whatever money you would be putting towards setting up a physical location and invest in your online sales/marketing and/or stash that money away for when you are ready to expand with employees etc... I can not imagine a case where jumping into a physical location would return on that investment.
The guidance you've received thus far is spot on for me. A brick and mortar store brings on a whole new set of responsibilities and needs. That said, I have two questions for you: 1) do you have a compelling desire to have a brick and mortar location and 2) are you prepared to and capable of delivering a powerful on-line presence?