I trade online. When should I go for real?

Published on June 21, 2011

I trade online. When should I go for real?

    After a series of our topics about online stores, they asked me: “Here I have my own store. How to understand that everything, Ales, you need to quit your main job and do it in full, plus look for a place in the city to the point?

    Shop in real life as a plus online site

    We started from an online store, and considered the first physical store not as an independent retail outlet, but as a continuation of online trading, and here's why:
    • Firstly, it was a great advertisement . The store attracted people from the street who were completely unfamiliar with our online activities. When we started to get up on a big stream, it automatically meant good sales from the store itself.
    • Secondly, we needed to build on the fame of the product (at the time we entered the market, board games as a phenomenon were known to a fairly small number of people). For example, having set up in a shopping center that visits a half-city, you can become familiar with people until the stage when they come in and buy it sooner or later. The more often they see, the higher the awareness and the higher the chance of a purchase. This is very important: an unfamiliar thing can be turned into a familiar one in just 3-6 contacts. You cannot go past an online store: you can bypass the real one, and you need to use it.
    • Thirdly, the point in real life is a natural place for pickup . Many people prefer to come and buy goods on their own, having found online. Oddly enough, but many still do not trust online shopping or simply do not want to wait for the courier. Perhaps the fact is that the real store has a more familiar interface.
    • Fourth, the point is a demonstration platform for goods : there you can touch and see things close by, plus, for example, try on clothes or check some kind of device. You can also make an additional sale there, simply by showing that there is still something interesting. It worked for us like this: a person ordered “Monopoly”, came to the place, understood that there are board games at times cooler and more fun - and took something else.
    • And fifthly, a store in real life acts as a means of slightly increasing confidence in an online store . A client on the network thinks something like this: “An online store can evaporate at any time, and a store on the street will definitely not go anywhere.”

    How to understand when to open a real representative office and for which stores?

    1. The product should be potentially interesting to a wide audience from the street : for example, board games and toys are definitely interesting to everyone, but, for example, some specialized gadgets may well be sold only through the network.
    2. There should be more than 30 deliveries from different customers per day . This is an indicative sign that there will be interest in the product “on the street” - and a guarantee that you can survive the first months by working on a rental. For example, part of our franchisee points was opened precisely after the owners took a wholesale batch of games to bargain in their region, and realized that things were going on.
    3. Specifically, games sell better without packaging , so the point was needed as early as possible. In general, for any product that needs to be felt and looked in order to make a purchasing decision, the packaging is superfluous. Shoes and clothes, for example, so far few decide to buy through the network (but many are willing to choose), and many - many.
    4. A point in a good place increases the penetration of goods . In our new places, the scenario is something like this: a person comes in to ask what is there, sees games, plays a little and often leaves until the next time. But at the same time, he becomes a "viral agent", telling acquaintances about the store. And comes back in a month to buy a gift. Another interesting point is that many of the online store can come "to doubt in place" and thereby get the final push to purchase.
    5. The big problem was that the assortment should fit into the room . The fact is that an online store can work without the actual availability of goods, but a store in real life can’t. Some online stores specialize in selling thousands of items of relatively rare goods - and for them they either select the TOP-100 type or come up with something else. We spread everything, and this at one time made logistics very difficult - accordingly, you need to think about the correct information system in the background. Now the availability of goods is taken into account in real time and goes both to the client part (to the website) and to the calculation of deliveries.

    Another important point is that the advantage should not be violated from the transition to real life . For example, you can easily find places with a very high flow, but at the same time renting there will be many times more expensive. A logical step for an online store would be to increase prices, but we cannot do this: on the site and in all stores they should be the same. By the way, some charge higher prices in real life compared to an online store (for example, some opticians do it, for example), and this causes sincere bewilderment of customers, plus a lot of problems with pickup.

    To select a place, it is worth additionally analyzing the delivery traffic: it can tell a lot of interesting things, including intermediate points between interesting areas. In Moscow, for example, couriers have a “magic courtyard”: every day during the year at least one delivery to a rectangle of four tall apartment buildings takes place.

    And one more thing: it’s best to open a point in real life before the start of seasonal sales (if you don’t know, you can look through Google Trends): this way it will beat off the fastest.

    Also in our blog on Habré: about the choice of a place in general , a case of opening in a shopping center .