Lately we have been working with brick and mortar companies who are struggling with sales in their stores and want to break into an online market. One particular group we’ve been watching closely is hobby store dealers. This industry has been hit hard by the ever increasing popularity of online stores. Amazon, TowerHobbies, even eBay, have brought to light that selling products might not be as complicated as people want it to be. Fair pricing, fast shipping, great customer service. That’s the recipe for a fairly successful eCommerce store. Are you going to topple Amazon with just this strategy? No. Can you make a comfortable living with this model? Probably. Should you be trying to replicate this model as a brick and mortar store? Absolutely Not.
Sell yourself (or your business) as a service.
Price is generally the easiest thing to “sell” your product on. If you’re the lowest price for the same product, then you become the clear choice. But what if you want to…you know…pay your employees? Or feed your family? Then you can’t run your brick and mortar store on 10% profit margins. So how can you fund your business? Figure out why you’re better than the Internet. For most people it’s easy. Most people have an expertise and more importantly they have something that the internet doesn’t….hands.
Take your average home service company. You’re not calling a plumber because you don’t know how to buy a hot water heater on the internet. It’s the same with anything else. You start on Google, find a site you like and sells hot water heaters, check the specs to match what you’re replacing, and then a big brown truck brings to your house a few days later. Then what? Do you know how to solder or braze copper? Do you even know what those words mean? What about the difference between your gas/fuel lines and the water lines? Still confused? You’re probably calling a plumber then. Does he sell hot water heaters? Of course he does. Is that why you’re calling him? Absolutely not.
With this held in the front of your mind, It’s now up to you to replicate this in your brick and mortar store. If you’re only selling point is that it’s in stock and people can leave today with it, you’re going to have a rough time with things. Now is the time to find ways to enhance their shopping experience. Add value to your customers and ultimately they will forget about the cost of the thing they’re buying. You’re passionate about what you’re selling, don’t be afraid to showcase that. You know a lot about wine, or model airplanes, or comic books. Showcase that value and help educate your customers and help them have a great experience in your store. If they’re having a great time and walk away enriched. They’ll be your customer for life.