Online stores: When and why they are useful, and sometimes why they are not.
Most of our customers these days have either had or would like to have an online store for the purpose of selling their merchandise to either employees or students and staff in a school setting. It seems they have become much more prevalent in the last few years and have almost become the expected norm for the industry. Abante Marketing has been keeping up with the online store trend and has been running and building them for well over 10 years now. We have learned some things along the way.
Corporate and Business
If you have a large organization with multiple locations, and you would like to offer corporate apparel to all of them across one platform, then an online store is a good choice. Abante Marketing runs many of these stores today. The process is relatively simple and takes a short amount of time once the product assortment is chosen. These stores can be super effective if they are marketed to the employee base effectively, updated often, and used as a marketing tool to get employees to wear corporate gear. We find the most effective way is to either offer store credit to employees (which may not be in your budget) or pick items a few times a year to have sales around. Employees love sales (who doesn’t) and it really drives traffic to the stores. We normally see a nice increase in non-sale items during those sales as well.
One of the biggest why and when’s is brand guidelines. We see, too often, in larger organizations you might have rouge departments (we all have them) that decide they want to change or do something outside you brand guidelines. Having a store and making that store the only place employees can order you branded gear ensures your brand stays intact. We take great care with our customers’ logos and we do not deviate from their brand guidelines.
Corporate stores are also normally year-round stores which are always left open for employees to order apparel and gear.
Schools and Booster Clubs
Schools and booster clubs are also a huge fan of online stores and they can be super effective if done correctly and marketed properly. We do see sometimes where these stores are not marketed properly and tend to not perform as well. Good rule of thumb for schools and booster clubs is to make sure the store is timed right and is the right tool for the audience. I know so many parents come to registration with check book in hand, ready to write checks, so paper order forms are often more effective than on-line stores for that type of sale. The best way to get sales is to order the product up front and sell it right there on the spot. The downside to that is leftover inventory when the sale is done, but we do know this is the number one way to generate the most sales.
School and booster club stores are typically seasonal and only open for short periods of time and then shut down and possibly reopened at a later date.
Overall, online stores are a great tool but there are times when other avenues might make more sense. The only other thing to consider is the expected volume the store will do. Abante Marketing does have some minimal threshold numbers we need to consider when building a store but that is something you can discuss with your sales representative.
If you have been thinking a store might be right for your company or school get in touch and we can walk you through to process.