Brick and mortar stores going online during COVID-19- cover image

Are you thinking of moving your brick and mortar store to online? Great! Then you’ve landed on the right page. In this article, we’ll show ways in which your business could fit into the online world. 

On March 11 when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, many countries have enforced the shutdown of non-essential services that brought fast-moving changes in the business world. The global economy was shaken on a massive scale and as a result, many businesses were forced to close, leading to an unprecedented rupture of commerce in most industry sectors. From manufacturing to marketing, 2020 has seen shifts in the way businesses and organizations operate in the wake of the pandemic.

brick and mortar stores going online- create your first catalog

As this global economic crisis continues, it is expected that businesses will not return to normal for a long time. Even consumer behavior will change. Hesitation among consumers to go out and shop will be visibly seen, impacting the overall seller-buyer conventional journey. But where do we go from here?

Sorry we`re closed sign

In these uncertain times, business owners are trying to find ways to adapt to the new climate. Companies are looking to innovate, improve their offerings and client support, optimize processes, and enhance communication. And one of the most common ways businesses are navigating the global COVID-19 pandemic is by transitioning to selling online. 

How to shift from brick and mortar to online

Do you occupy your time selling clothes, jewelry, food, makeup? Whatever the sector or size of your business, right now is the perfect time to invest in an e-commerce strategy. During this time when having direct contact with your customer is not indicated, choosing your platform is one of the most important steps you need to follow in taking your brick-and-mortar store to an online store. Whether you are managing a small or big brand, having an e-commerce platform is essential. There are three important ways you can promote and sell your products online:

  • Make your own website 
  • Create your own product catalog
  • Share it on social media 
men paying online with credit card

Make your own website. Brick and mortar going online

In the COVID era, running a business without a web presence is no longer profitable. According to techcrunch.com, this year, brick-and-mortar retail sales will fall by 14% to $4.184 trillion and the e-commerce sector will climb by 18% to reach $709.78 billion, representing 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales.

But this is not the only reason why brick and mortar stores go online. For example, opening a clothing boutique could cost you over $100.000 meanwhile creating and sustaining a website is much cheaper.

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to launch a website, without being an expert. You don’t need to be a developer to create an attractive and functional site. Web hosting services are one of the best alternatives. 

If you want to succeed in the online world, you need to be careful when selecting your e-commerce platform. A professionally looking website can help you facilitate your online sales and bring your business into a competitive online marketplace.

If you decide to take the plunge and create your own website, here are the main things you should take into consideration:

How to choose the best e-commerce platform for your needs?

When starting an online store, the most important thing is choosing the right online store builder. An e-commerce builder is an online software that lets you create your own online store, without needing advanced tech skills and coding knowledge. 

Right now, in this competitive online marketplace, there are many browser-based website builders available at a reasonable price. Here’s what to take into consideration when choosing the best one for your business:

-SEO Friendliness

-Customer Service

-Mobile Friendliness

-Security

-Multi-channel Integration

-Product Management System

-Pricing and Payment

 To help you further on, let’s explore the top e-commerce platforms you should take into consideration when moving your brick and mortar store to online:

  1. Shopify

Started in 2004, Shopify is now the leading e-commerce solution in the market with over 1 million businesses across 175 countries. 

Pricing for Shopify

  • Basic Shopify ($29/mo)
  • Shopify ($79
  • Advanced Shopify ($299). 

 A 14-day free trial is available, no credit card required. 

2. BigCommerce

BigCommerce was founded in 2009. To date has helped online retailers do $25 billion worth of sales across 120 countries. 

Pricing for BigCommerce 

  • BigCommerce Standard ($29.95/mo) – $50,000 annual sales limit
  • BigCommerce Plus ($79.95/mo) – $180,000 annual sales limit
  • BigCommerce Pro ($299.95/mo) – $400,000 annual sales limit
  • BigCommerce Enterprise (available upon request)

3. Wix

Wix.com is a great e-commerce platform for small businesses that don’t have access to a dedicated web designer. The site builder itself is easy to use and the e-commerce functionality is created to fulfill basic needs. 

Pricing for Wix

  • Combo ($17/mo)
  • Unlimited ($22/mo)
  • Business Basic ($23/mo)
  • Business Unlimited ($27/mo)
  • Business VIP ($35/mo)
  • Enterprise ($500/mo)

Add a domain name

After choosing the right e-commerce platform, finding a good domain name is essential. The domain name is the key to launching a successful online store, it helps identify your store’s name and build trust with customers.

Let’s take for example Gap. Gap.com, operated by Gap, Inc., is an online store with nationally-focused sales. Its eCommerce net sales are generated almost entirely in the United States. With regard to the product range, gap.com achieves the greatest part of its eCommerce net sales in the “Fashion” category. Only In 2019, gap.com generated sales of  $2,944.6m. 

One of the reasons for this enormous success is that its e-commerce strategy begins from an easy to type, memorize and recognize website address. Your domain name should also be unique and help you establish your brand. Also, be careful when you decide to purchase a domain. It’s easy to be lured into buying a domain at a very low price. But don’t be fooled: some domain registrars offer promotional pricing at an extremely low cost, but then hide lots of fees in the contract, lock you in, and charge high renewal rates.

Before you make a domain purchase, review the registrar’s “Terms of Service” for any questionable terms, obligations, or fees. Be sure to check what the renewal rates will be, and make sure you are buying only what you need and want. After choosing it, make sure that your domain name is available, purchase it, and do not forget to renew it before the expiry date, so you exclude the risk of being snapped by someone else

Gap.com result on google

Personalize your e-commerce template

If you aren’t a design expert website templates or themes are the ideal starting point for you. It can make your site look good and professional. The most important thing you should have in mind when choosing the template is the features you want to have available for your customers. Also, it’s important to use the same theme on every page. This way, your viewers will not get confused.

Website template example on a laptop

Fonts

Fonts are essential. And keep in mind that less is more. Preferably, select a single font family with a large variation in weights and styles so you can be sure that the fonts you pair up will be complementary to one another. Also, the font can help you convey a more authentic message.

But more importantly than being aesthetically pleasing, the fonts you choose when moving your brick and mortar online need to load fast. Keep in mind, clients will leave your website immediately if it loads slow. No one has time and patience for that. 

Keep it simple and clean. Choose a maximum of 1 to 2 fonts that go well together in order to make sure your website will look and feel professional. 

Don’t have time to think about fonts? Do not worry! Use FontfaceNinja to inspect any font you’re interested in. Can’t be bothered? Find out that all major e-commerce platforms come with predefined templates where you only have to create your own content, upload your products and you’ll have a ready to launch website within hours. 

Color

Speaking of ready to use website templates, make sure to change the colors when editing one. When it comes to communicating a certain tone or message, color is one of the most impactful branding elements. Begin with a color palette of 1-3 main colors that complement one another, or even better, stick to your brand colors to maintain brand consistency. 

Let’s stick to the same classical example, GAP. Everyone can easily recognize the colors associated with this brand: navy blue and white. To be more precise: #002A5F. 

GAP brand color

When coming up with a distinctive color palette for your brand, make sure to always, always use the same colors. Stick to your Hex codes. If you want to take things to a whole new level, invest some time in a brand book where you can add all this info. This way, you avoid diluting your brand and you make sure all your brand elements are correctly used by others.

Create an effective SEO strategy 

Your website is live. Great! Want customers to find you online? SEO is a great answer. Using search engine optimization techniques can help push your product pages to the top of the search so that your shoppers find you when looking for your products. Implementing SEO for your new website is essential but is not a walk in the park. Here are some strategies you can use:

Perform keyword research

By performing keyword research, you can identify what words and phrases related to your business people are searching for. Potential customers need to enter something into a search engine to get results, and it’s up to you to select the most relevant words and phrases for your site. Also, make sure that your product descriptions and home page contain keywords and phrases that both align with your brand.

Write quality content

In the digital world, content is a combination of the graphical, written, video, and audio information that is presented on your site and delivered to the world. More precisely content is the packaging on your website that presents your audience with information. Want to give your content more credibility? Focus on what makes your services, products, company and website unique. Gain credibility by using original and valid research and by citing your sources and proofread for typos, grammar mistakes and misspellings. 

SEO traffic chart

Create your own online product catalog

Now that you have created your own website, you can take advantage of presenting your products and services in a nice manner through a catalog. You need a publication that can integrate all of your products and boost your company image. That is when Flipsnack comes in handy. With our help, you can create your digital catalog from scratch or just upload your PDF and turn it into an HTML5 catalog, easy to read on any device. An ideal product catalog contains all commercial product information that enables product marketing managers to define new product offerings.

This contains certain sets of tools that allow the configuration of new products, services, pricing, and discounts. Also, for a great catalog, you can simplify the process by using our features such as product tags, which makes catalogs efficient. You know why? Because readers can easily order their desired products instantly. As easy and simple as a click. More than this, they can navigate through your interactive catalog using the search option so that it makes the entire shopping process smoother. Adding product tags in your catalog will help provide more information or promo content about your products. Also, it is a quick way for customers to shop for products directly from your catalog.

A catalog template from Flipsnack
Edit this furniture service catalog template

If all the above information given to you is a little bit confusing, do not worry. Here are some catalog templates you can use to launch your business  

Modern Product Catalog Template

Click on this modern product catalog template to edit

Go from brick and mortar to online and sell more products by choosing this modern product catalog template. The elegant layout and the calming color scheme can be ideal for your brand. By using this free template you can attract more customers and make some profit. Simply add your products, edit the text boxes and you are good to go. Also if you want to bring a more personal touch to your catalog, change the colors. Press “Make it a flipbook “ and share it with your customers. Creating a product catalog has never been easier. 

Online Product Catalog Template

Click on this online product catalog to edit

A well-designed catalog can give you an edge in your field and help you promote your business, that is why selecting this online product catalog template is the best choice for you. The professionally made layout is ideal for showcasing your products. Even though this design is ideal for any cosmetic brand, there is more you can do with it. Use our drag and drop editor and start creating. Upload professionally looking product photos, play with the text boxes and if you want, for a more complex look, add shapes. Also, if you want to take your business to the next level, upgrade your Flipsnack account to Business Plan and you can take advantage of the product tag feature. Product tags provide additional information and images, making products look more appealing.  

Minimalist Product Catalog Template

Click on this minimalist product catalog template to edit

Your product deserves to be in the spotlight, that is why we created this minimalist product catalog template. The simple layout is ideal for showcasing your products. Also, because it is fully customizable, you can add any kind of products you intend to sell. When adding photos and product details, get inspired and use Ikea Catalogs as an example. They always keep it simple. Focus on composition, photo quality, and product description.

Catalog automation

We know that creating a long batch of catalogs can be a tedious process. Have you ever wondered how to break free from an endless loop of copy-pasting, while creating your product catalogs? Luckily, Flipsnack is here to save the day. We have found the ideal solution for you.

It’s perfect for whoever is involved in producing a large volume of catalogs. With our automation feature, you are now able to save time by automating the boring parts of the process. 

The steps are really easy to follow. Go to the main dashboard and click automation. Then choose your data source: your e-commerce product feed, or a CSV file. Do not forget that we prepared for you a CSV file sample. Download it and use it as a starting point.

How to structure your product feed example

After finalizing this process, our system will ask you to identify which information from the file is the product title, which is the price, the description, and the image. That’s all, you are now ready to start designing your catalog template. Use Flipsnack and take your business to the next level.

Catalog automation example

Share it on social media 

Social media is among the most important strategies for launching a new business. Once you created your website and you embedded your product catalog, sharing catalogs online can benefit your business. Not only you can reach your global target audience, but you can also sell directly using shopping links in your catalog. 

Now you might be wondering how to share your catalog on social media platforms. It’s super easy and fun. Go to My Flipbooks and select the one you want to share, then click share and a new window will pop up. Select now the social media icon you want: Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter and you are good to go.

Also, do not forget that we have available for you the Send Email button. Email messages introduce your brand to new customers and, in time, keep your fan base coming back. Promotions are among the best ways to get recipients to open emails. Also, more consumers are more likely to open an email if it contains a discount.

Share buttons

Final thoughts

Now that you went through the whole article, I hope your brick and mortar to online moving process will go smoothly. Make your own website, use Flipsnack to create your own product catalogs, and share your work online – this is the holy trinity of an ideal e-commerce strategy.