Small Business Online Marketing -- Specialty Retail
Walgreens back in the day
Defining Your USP Video
Keys for Marketing Your Offline Specialty Retail Store Online
This article is going to focus on marketing an offline specialty retail store using online tools. In my opinion the internet was built for specialty retail stores. No matter what it is that you sell there are more people on the internet to buy than can ever walk through your door. You can have "category killers" like Amazon and Zappos that virtually every book and shoe on the planet available which would be impossible in a brick and mortar store.
You don't have to plan on being that large to be successful online. You can just build an extremely loyal customer, increase your profits and build you business using the tools that are available to you online.
There are some key steps that you should take before you decide to do it.
Identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) *
You need to understand why people buy from you instead of the plethora of other options that are available to them. The "real" reason why they buy from you. One of the best ways to find this out is to ask you customers. You can send out a survey, but I also believe that you need to be looking them in the eye when you ask them why they buy from you.
Decide what products you would like to sell online.
If you have the right software you could put all of your inventory online, but most specialty retail stores do not have that software available to them I recommend listing two types of products to begin with.
Items that you hand make and are not available anywhere else.
I hope the reason for this is obvious. The only issues will be if you are charging enough for your items and if you can keep up with the demand.
Items that have a limited supply and/or a limited market.
A good example is an antique store or a rare book store. You will be far more likely to find buyers for specialty items like that online.
Identify your Customer:
You need to talk with your customers and find out more about them. Information like their age, marital status and income range. You should also ask them about their hobbies If you own a quilting store, of course quilting is a hobby but ask them what else they enjoy doing. Sometimes you will find connections that you had no idea existed.
Find out where your offline customers "hang out" online.
Ask your customers what forums they frequent, what stores they buy from etc... This will help you understand where and how you should market to find new customers online.
*I've added a video that explains what USP is for thise that have questions about how you define it.