This is part two of a three-part “From Clicks to Bricks” series on ecommerce brands expanding from online to physical brick-and-mortar spaces. View part one here.
If you’re already running your ecommerce business from a warehouse, expanding through your existing space can be a viable strategy, especially for a young retail business with limited resources and a tight budget.
For part two of this “From Clicks to Bricks” series, we speak to Alexis Martin, founder of MyCubanStore.com, about how he expanded his online business with a showroom space within his existing warehouse.
How MyCubanStore.com expanded with a showroom
Founded in 2002, MyCubanStore.com designs, manufactures, and distributes guayaberasand related apparel, such as other shirts and hats.
In 2014, the Miami, Florida-based company decided to launch a permanent showroom within its warehouse area after receiving feedback that customers desire being able to touch and feel products.
founder of MyCubanStore.com
Martin shares how he was able to successfully expand his online business via a retail showroom.
1. Create a strong presence on Google My Business
An important step in any retail business’ local SEO strategy is to claim and verify your Google My Business listing. Doing so increases your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Finder, Google Search, Google Maps, and organic rankings, which means your search visibility increases, leading to more customers finding your physical location.
The nature of MyCubanStore.com’s online business meant that its business listing reflected that they weren’t open to the public. Shortly after the launch of its retail showroom, Martin updated its Google My Business profile. He shares some tips:
Best practices for updating your Google My Business listing:
✓ Include pictures of the latest retail space, as well as a “see inside” feature from Google Maps.
✓ Ensure your listing has all the basic data needed, such as address, phone number, and opening hours of showroom to make it easier for customers to find information about your company.
“We seek to provide amazing service and always follow up by asking the customers to share a review online. If you get a positive email from a customer, be sure to ask for an online review.”
Alexis Martin, founder of MyCubanStore.com
✓ Always solicit and encourage customer reviews. Not only can online reviews help your business stand out from the competition, they also have an impact on search results ranking and click-through rates. According to BrightLocal’s 2018 Consumer Review Survey, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34).
As a result of its growing customer reviews and other efforts to boost its online presence, MyCubanStore.com claims to be now the top-rated store in its niche category.
“Since our Google my Business launch, we now have a steady traffic of customers coming through our doors daily,” says Martin.
MyCubanStore shows up as the top search for potential customers in Miami, Florida
2. Provide in-store pickups as an option
Another way you can meet the needs of your customers in expanding clicks to bricks is by deploying a range of omnichannel services—one of which is through in-store pickups.
This is a win-win strategy for customers and retailers.
- For customers, they get the choice to pick up their purchases on their own schedule.
- For online retailers, offering in-store pickups gives them a competitive advantage over pure-play ecommerce retailers.
While MyCubanStore.com has yet to provide a fully fledged buy-online-in-store pickup system, it currently provides in-store pickup as an additional service through face-to-face customer interactions and over the phone (e.g., by asking “Would you like the option of picking this up in-store?”).
Pro-tip: Shoppers these days want instant access to goods. You can implement this in a few ways:
- If you don’t already have the technology in place, you can start by making customers aware of the ability to pick up in-store in-person, over the phone, or through in-store posters.
- Invest in technology that allows online shoppers on your website to see in-store inventory availability in real-time and buy products for same-day collection.
3. Find a retail software that can integrate with existing systems
For online stores that are expanding from clicks to bricks, finding a POS system that is fully integrated is crucial, as Martin quickly realized.
As an online store, MyCubanStore.com was processing orders and managing its warehouse inventory through a multi-channel order management system called Stone Edge Order Manager.
When he found that the existing system offered POS as part of its functionality, the decision was easy “since it’s all incorporated via the same inventory control that syncs with our online Miva store,” says Martin.
“Every time a sale occurs in our showroom, the inventory instantly gets updated on the online store, and vice versa,” he adds.
Tips when shopping for a retail POS: In your demo calls with shortlisted vendors, be sure to ask questions like:
- How easy is it to use and is training required?
- What systems does it integrate with? (Consider features such as ecommerce or multi-channel order management systems.)
- What are the fees involved for integrations?
Expand from ecommerce to warehouse brick and mortar
Now that we’ve shared a few ideas for how you can expand from ecommerce to your warehouse brick-and-mortar space successfully, here’s some parting advice from Martin who has done it all:
- Use data from your online store to make smart decisions: Found a location for your retail store? “Study the location area of your retail store to see if it matches your established customer base demographics.”
- Recognize the commitment a retail store requires: “For online retailers, having an online store means you can work from anywhere. Owning a physical location requires staffing and being present during opening hours. Our showroom has been a success because we are utilizing the same physical location for our warehouse.”
- Improve and optimize your operations: “Utilize your social media, Google profiles, and customer interactions to advertise your retail location and provide incentives for online customers to visit the store.”
Ready to step into retail expansion? Give us a call at (844) 680-2046, where our retail advisors will give you a full assessment and product recommendations based on what best suits your expansion needs.
Check out part 1 of our “From Clicks to Bricks” series here, and stay tuned for part 3, where we speak to another online retailer about how they delivered a consistent in-store branding experience.