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A Website For Your Retail Store:
Can Increase Your Inventory 1,000,000 % ...
For way less than $ 1,000,000. A website can offer your customers the opportunity to shop in your store without physically being in the shop, at a cost that is probably less than painting your existing location. In addition, it can be used to inform customers of sales and special promotions, upcoming events and new product lines that they may not know you carry.
This presents an excellent opportunity for all types of retail shops, especially those located in a seasonal resort location. The site can be promoted in season with printed materials, notes on cash register receipts, signage, etc.. Customers can be asked to give their e-mail addresses to be notified of special promotions. In this way the shopping season can be expanded to year round, world wide.
We recently designed and constructed a site for a retail liquor, beer and wine store that is in transition from being a local "bottle shop" to the status of being a nationally recognized leader in fine wines, especially from Bordeaux and Italy, as well as vintage Ports.
The goal of the site was to present in an elegant and sophisticated manner the new image of the store to a discriminating audience of wine connoisseurs across the globe. The site also had to serve local customers of the store's monthly wine dinners, as well a inform other customers of new products, sales and other special events.
Yet another function of the site was specific to the peculiarities of the fine wine business. There is a global shortage of certain great wines, particularly from the great Chateaux of Bordeaux. These wines are allocated, and it was important to show producers half a world away that the store, although small and located in an out of the way location, was a significant factor in the American fine wine marketplace, and thus worthy of receiving an allocation of their wines.
This site is also designed to work with the store's recently installed POS computer system to enable e-commerce applications at some point in the near future.
There is a second, less understood application for a website that enables customers that are physically in your store to purchase goods that are not -- your website can exponentially expand the inventory of your physical location at a very minimal cost.
Most retail businesses rely on potential customers walking through the door to purchase items sitting on a shelf. Customers are attracted by advertising, signage, location, selection, 'good will', etc., all items that cost money.
A website generally does not cut the cost of getting physical customers in a physical door. However, once the customer is in the door, your physical location is limited in the goods that customer can purchase by two factors; available display space and the money you have available for financing inventory. A website can increase available display space and inventory to virtual infinity, increasing the opportunity for that customer to spend more money with you.
Let's consider two applications of this concept, first an antique store with two locations, second, a single location retail store that sells 'widgets'.
In the first example, the website for the antique store features the inventory of both stores. In both locations the physical presence of the website would be a computer with an appropriate monitor (in one case, we used 17" flat screens, available for less than $500). In store Store 'A' the inventory of Store 'B' would be displayed, and in Store 'B' the inventory of Store 'A'. Using this approach both stores are effectively doubled in size for less than $ 2,500.
In the second example, the single location retail store selling 'widgets' uses a computer with appropriate monitor to offer the full line of all the 'widget' manufacturers represented on the shelves. Customers can purchase items and pay immediately, with you shipping directly, or pick up and pay for items on arrival in your store.
The store's website can be linked to that of the 'widget' manufacturer, many of whom already have web sites displaying their full lines with photos and detailed product information. Other manufacturers or their reps are happy to provide their complete line of 'widgets' on disc or CD for presentation on your site.
In this way, the website enables the stores to offer the full line of 'widgets' without purchasing the entire line. Specific arrangements must be made with individual vendors, but generally the opportunity to sell more product is attractive to them.
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