Perhaps you’re one of those retailers who actually began your business online. But have you actually considered expanding your marketing and sales offline?
This could prove to be more lucrative, or it could just mean more time, money and effort wasted. It could open up new avenues and expose you to the local market, or it could be a risky move.
5 Important Factors to Consider
Should you venture into a retail store location?
A lot of traditional businessmen would say yes. Many would go for it, believing that any additional avenue for profit is always a good thing.
However, experts today recognize the importance of studying every business move and of course doing the necessary research first, especially if it would entail a huge amount of resources on your part.
So should you be selling your goods offline? The answer depends on several factors:
All businesses require a lot of time, especially at the beginning. It’s essential to focus on building and developing it.
If you are managing your online retail business on a part-time basis and you still have a day job or other obligations to attend to, it may be difficult to expand to the offline market. Doing so would mean spending more time on the road, talking to actual people, joining trade fairs and bazaars, etc.
On the other hand, if you have the time or can hire some people to do the work for you, then you could consider it. Just take note that you can’t fully delegate the tasks just yet. It’s important that you’re also hands-on at the beginning. Besides, it takes time too to train people.
Your financial resources count too. Can you afford to go offline?
Online selling is not as expensive to operate because you only have to pay for your domain and web hosting, perhaps email automation, and a few outsourced freelancers.
Meanwhile, distributing and selling your goods offline could mean putting up an actual store, hiring employees, and paying for rent and utility bills. Even if you just choose to join weekend markets, you’ll need to invest money in transportation, rent of space, display racks, human resources, marketing peripherals, and so on.
One thing that you could do, though, is to go for consignment. This won’t be as taxing on the pocket. You could also get resellers.
But if you do have the extra money and you’ve given this considerable thought and review, then it could be a good investment. Such a move may mean bigger exposure and greater profit in the long run.
Apart from time and budget, there are also other resources to consider. Think of the equipment and supplies you may need should you decide to sell your goods offline.
Let’s say you’re selling shirts and mugs online. The buyers pay for shipping fees too in this scenario. You can actually just produce them by order. If you sell them offline too, you might have to have an actual inventory. This means there’s a need to invest in more supplies or perhaps in your own printing machine, if you don’t already have one.
Consider human resources too— the people who will be working with you to maintain operations and ensure good customer service. Selling offline certainly requires more hands on deck. It could also mean having to hire them on a more permanent basis.
Of course, there are merchants willing to invest in such because of the potential returns. After all, many businesses have flourished offline too even in this digital age we live in.
What kind of products do you have? This could be a crucial factor to consider.
There are products that are more suited for online markets, such as ebooks and software. Well, you can also market them offline— let’s say to particular offices, schools, and institutions. You could give live demonstrations to promote your software. Seminars and workshops could be great ways to ignite more awareness for your ebooks.
What if you’re selling custom notebooks or cupcakes? Yes, it’s more convenient to remain in the online world. However, there may be a local market that you haven’t tapped into yet which could bring you big business. You could consign them or sell them during events. You could even collaborate with groups or co-sponsor activities.
If your target market involves people living abroad, it might be better to stay online. But if your goods can be sold to individuals within your community or in nearby places, it could be a good idea to sell offline too.
Let’s say you’re selling educational toys and a lot of schools, teachers, and parents in other countries have been buying from you. That’s definitely fantastic!
But perhaps you feel that it’s time to expand. One way to go about it would be to actually get in touch with the schools in your neighborhoods, the parent organizations, teacher associations and conference organizers, and the like.
Try to examine each of these factors and see if it’s appropriate to sell your own goods offline and if you’re actually ready for it at this point.
Offline Opportunities You Can Tap
Upon going through the factors above, you feel you’re willing and able to expand offline! What opportunities could you possibly tap?
Some have already been mentioned, such as participating in trade fairs, weekend markets, and other such events. Consignment deals are also good.
Upon defining your target market, you could also collaborate with groups by co-sponsoring an event, giving freebies, facilitating workshops, and more. Take advantage of different festivals, seasonal events, and community activities. You could also sponsor a local team, such as the little baseball league or even a professional bowlers team.
Also note that “word of mouth” advertising can be just as powerful as going viral online. Some business thrive on referrals! You can capitalize on this too by offering free stuff for customers to try, using coupons and frequency cards, and doing direct selling to people you know.
What’s more, if you can afford to shell out a huge amount, try to get a stall in the mall or perhaps put up a popup store in a well-known café, park, or tourist attraction.
Get creative! You don’t have to push beyond your limits and invest a lot just to make it big. Sometimes, the seemingly small ideas and mini markets turn out to be the biggest opportunities.