By Derek Broman, CEO of Discount Enterprises LLC.
From my years of experience as a business owner, I've come away with this: Business is always changing. It's impossible to know what kinds of changes are coming. Therefore, you must be willing evolve if you want to be successful and accept this as a reality.
In 2010, I opened the doors of my business to the public. Our first shop was a small one in Lincoln, Nebraska. Since then, we've upgraded to a slightly larger space. However, I really embraced change (and boosted business) when I started an online store. Now it accounts for nearly half of my company's total yearly sales.
It's easier than ever to get people to buy your company's products and/or services online, but it's more difficult to have a unique business idea and engage with customers. I found a few successful ways to stand out from other businesses similar to mine:
- Supply on demand. I have strived to provide consumers with products they want for the best prices. If customers request specific items from my store, I don't hesitate to get the products and add them to our product selection: It's likely other people will want the items too. My store's product selection is diverse and has expanded over time. This puts us at an advantage over other companies that are otherwise pretty similar, and provides great customer service.
- Offer the best prices. To successfully sell on the internet, you need two things: variety and unbeatable prices. Sell what consumers want to buy and offer the best prices so they won't buy it from anyone else. For example, we feature a "Deal of the Day" page as well as additional deals and promotions. I always know the lowest price I can offer in order to turn a profit. While I can't go below MSRP, what I can do is keep an eye on what prices competitors are selling their inventory for. When I can drop the price just a smidge to beat out the competition, I do it. I keep track of prices shifting by looking at websites that compare the merchandise I sell across platforms.
- Provide exclusive content. We feature relevant content on our website and add new information every week. Blog posts and videos offer a successful way for us to easily address questions our customers have about our products. It also initiates dialogue with our customers. Content brings new customers to our website through organic search: We use Google Analytics to track the content across our website. If we see that users really enjoy reading certain guides, then we know to produce more of these types of articles to bring in more clients. If people don't click on these kinds of articles, then we go in a different direction moving forward.
- Embrace the internet. Maintaining an online store can be tough, but even if you keep your brick-and-mortar store location(s), it is undoubtedly worth it. You are capable of reaching a larger audience online and offline. Many of my brick-and-mortar store customers are from the area, but with my online store, I can reach people who live in Omaha and all across the United States. It also allows me to direct customers who come into the store online so they can take advantage of the deals and then pick up at our Lincoln location.
Don't forget to take advantage of social media, too. I like to use Facebook Live videos, which provide a great way to engage with customers by showing off new products and offering instructions or other useful information. Being present on social media increases your potential audience, too: It's cool to show off our new merchandise and reinforce the notion that we're current.
Derek Broman is the CEO of Discount Enterprises LLC.