Should my website have an online store? – Retailers and Service Providers

Recently I had a discussion with one of my friends who owns a high end hair salon here in Oklahoma City.  We were discussing high-end hair products and the types of people who spend more money to purchase them through their salon stylist.  He told me that in the hair product market, you generally have three types of buyers. The first is the kind who listens to the recommendation of their hair stylist and makes the purchase from them because

The first is the kind who listens to the recommendation of their hair stylist and makes the purchase from them because its convenient, although they know the purchase could be made less expensively online or elsewhere. 

The second type will hear their stylist’s recommendation, try the product, then go home and order it online.  And the last kind

And the last kind is the grocery store buyer, who no matter what their hair stylist recommends, will end up purchasing something which works just as well from the grocery store.

 

Opternative is one of the emerging online competitors in the eye care industry.

Opternative is one of the emerging online competitors in the eye care industry.

This discussion shed a light on an interesting perspective. 

One of the topics which is eventually discussed with all of my retail shop web design clients is about the idea of having an e-commerce setup so their customers can order products online. 

In many cases, retail store owners will come to me and they already know its something they want, and rightfully so.  Online competition is thick, not only for retailers but also for service providers such as

In many cases, retail store owners will come to me and they already know its something they want, and rightfully so.  Online competition is thick, not only for retailers but also for service providers such as eye doctors, lawyers and general physicians – all of which now have online competitors which are more convenient and likely less expensive than their own services.

Today customers are interested in the convenience of ordering products and services online but there is still the concept of a customer’s buying experience

Online product and service providers will always be able to win on price but they are going to have a difficult time creating a buying experience which competes with that of a customer’s local alternative. 

Sure, the idea of reaching out to online shoppers and people outside of your immediate geographical area is appealing, but is it necessary or even beneficial?

OnlineShoeShoppingLets say for instance, that I am interested in buying a certain pair of shoes and I know specifically what I want.  I use  Google to find a shoe shop and it turns out the local shoe shop not only has the shoe in stock, but they also have the pricing available and the ability for me to make the purchase right there.   Since I’m already online, why don’t I check to see what they cost elsewhere?  I get back on Google and immediately find the shoes for nearly half of what they cost at the local store with free

Since I’m already online, why don’t I check to see what they cost elsewhere?  I get back on Google and immediately find the shoes for nearly half of what they cost at the local store with free

I get back on Google and immediately find the shoes for nearly half of what they cost at the local store with free 2nd day shipping – plus I don’t even have to go anywhere.  My original game plan was to go to my local shop and pick up the shoes but having the ability for me to purchase the shoes online turned me into an online shopper.

My original game plan was to go to my local shop and pick up the shoes but having the ability for me to purchase the shoes online turned me into an online shopper.

I conducted research on the topic for a recent client of mine who owns a vapor shop and my take on the subject has officially become much clearer and seemingly unique in some regards.  

I was researching competitors in their local market to see how many had products available online and to my surprise, almost every single one of them did.

I spot checked a few of their prices vs basic copy and paste Google searches and their prices were nowhere near as low as their online competitors. 

I am actually convinced that having the prices available on their

I was researching competitors in their local market to see how many had products available online and to my surprise, almost every single one of them did. I spot checked a few of their prices vs basic copy and paste Google searches and their prices were nowhere near as low as their online competitors.  I am actually convinced that having the prices available on their

I am actually convinced that having the prices available on their websites, to begin with, is doing them more harm than good.

This is likely happening much more often than people with online retail stores would like to find out about.

So, should my retail shop have an online store? 

Probably not, unless you have better or just as low of pricing as the lowest online retailers, a unique product or service which you created or a protected territory consisting of the entire United States to sell in. 

Otherwise, I feel like you might be turning your clients into online shoppers.

Fortunately, price is not the primary motivation of everybody and the convenience of having a product shipped is in many cases less convenient than just picking something up when it is needed.  

There is still hope and actually a clear advantage to local product and service providers. 

The online giants have not taken over quite yet, and will continue to have difficulty doing so as long as localization becomes increasingly more important in search engines providing relevant search results.

I hope this helps to shed the light on the question of whether or not you should implement an online store on your retail or service provider website.  Please feel free to leave comments and share with anybody to whom you feel this information might be helpful.

 

TTFN