7 Tips on how to build an online hardware store.
You cannot ship everything.
Think about what you can ship. Is it realistic to send a ton of sand 400 miles ? There are some products you will need to list as available in-store only. Cement blocks, sand cut timber are all such items
Create How to videos
DIY enthusiasts spend lots of time watching video on how to fix this and that. Create quick videos on how to do simple tasks around the house and outdoors.
Also consider creating unboxing videos about new product. This is of interest to DIY’ers
Specialise in a particular area
You can list all 10k product lines and write unique content for all and in about 10 years your site maybe finished. We recommend making your site a specialist in a certain area. Your specialty will bring niche visitors to your site who are more likely to spend online.
Your site is an extended shop window
Not all your online visitors will spend on the site. Many will do their homework online and then come in-store to test and view the product in the real. Make an onlione offer to these customer giving them a discount if they present the printed page about the product in-store.
Build an email list
Run competitions and discounts for collecting email addresses. Email addresses are gold dust. Respect them and do not oversell.
Be active on social Media
Have conversations with your customers online, use social media to post about new product and special offers you may have. Thank customers online. Congratulate them on their achievements. Have sports people come to the store and pose for selfies with customers and staff.
Dedicate a staff member to e commerce and social media.
Do not think you can have a member of staff do this job as well as the current job they have in-store. If you take this approach you are not taking the task seriously. A dedicated resource should have goals and KPI’s. Typical goals can be :
- increasing the number of visitors to the site.
- increasing email newsletter subscriptions.
- increasing conversions on the site into instore / online transactions
- engaging in more conversations online
- manning live help
It takes time to build an online customer base.
Building an online store is a 4 year minimum project. Spending a few months at this and then expecting a massive result is un-realistic.
Show your stock status online.
No need to show how many units you have, as this maybe information a thief might find useful. Our advice is to show “in-stock” , “low-stock” , “out of stock”. If you are out-of-stock allow people to be notified when the product comes back into stock.
Use Live Help
Live help is useful for those of us with not a lot of knowledge of the project we are about to embark on. Live help allows you to start having a conversation with your customers. A conversation started is an opportunity to engage a new customer make them think of your store when they start to do a new home improvement project.