Before You Start Your Online Store…

COVID-19 has pushed a large amount of sales online. Whether stores offer local delivery, nationwide shipping, or buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) options, they are booming right now. In fact, according to a recent report, consumers report high intention to continue using BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and grocery delivery even after the pandemic. 

“Buy online, pick up in-store services (BOPIS) can limit the time consumers spend in public areas, and could continue operating even if home delivery systems come under strain, according to Schreiner.

Consumers already are shifting towards these services: year-over-year growth of click-and-collect shopping grew 28% in February compared to 18% in January, according to data from Adobe Analytics. This trend lays out a potential survival strategy for retailers to follow as coronavirus concerns grow: make sure your products are as accessible to the consumer as possible,” notes the report from Retail Touchpoints. 

If your store is not already offering some sort of e-commerce option, it’s not too late to start. This trend isn’t going away. Here are some important things to evaluate before you go online. 

Find a Point of Sale That Integrates Well Online

There are a surprising amount of natural products retailers that don’t have a point of sale system. This is step one if you don’t have one already. There are many good options out there. They are many POS systems that work very well with independent retailers that integrate well with your brick and mortar location plus e-commerce. Regardless of what POS you use, take advantage of all of the perks that come with it. Use it for reporting. Capture email addresses. Improve your inventory management. This data is critical for success. 

Count The Cost

Staffing and shipping costs are going to be a major piece of this conversation. If you want to offer delivery services, you’ll need to determine the cost of using a third party delivery service or having your own employee. Maybe it’s not in the cards right now, and buy online, pick up in-store is what’s feasible. That’s okay!  Do what is going to offer you the best ROI both in the short run and the long haul. The BOPIS option is still a fantastic service to offer to your customers and is the easiest to implement.

Make It Seamless

If you’re going to go online, make it easy for your customers to use your platform. Rework your website to accommodate this feature and make it easy to find on the site. Have a search feature on your online store so customers can search for their favorite products. If your platform allows it, add a “goes well with” section to better serve your customers and offer product recommendations virtually. Consider hiring an expert to help you with this process.

Be Patient

Opening up your online store will take time to do well. Allow time for good, detailed product descriptions, clear product images, and keywords for your search feature to function properly. It will take a while to do this, but better to do things slow and right than quick and sloppy. 

Ask For Advice

There are many SENPA members that have online stores that are set up very nicely and are working really well for their businesses. Utilize our membership lists and reach out to this amazing network at your fingertips to find out what is working well for your fellow SENPA members.


Have questions about an online store?

There are many of our SENPA retail members that are happy to answer questions about how they have implemented these tools. Please visit our member’s list and reach out to any of these contacts. 


Want to become a member?

For more information please click here to learn all about the benefits of becoming a SENPA member. 


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SENPA is a non-profit organization with a core focus on strengthening the success of independent natural retailers and aligned manufacturers, while nourishing their human connection with consumers. We are a leading voice, supporter and advocate for the natural-products industry, rooted in the experience of enhanced health and the power of personal relationships.

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