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Earlier this month we shared our tips on introducing your bricks-and-mortar business to the World Wide Web but this time we’re imparting our pearls of wisdom on bringing your online enterprise into the real world. Although some believe that bricks-and-mortar businesses are a dying art that are paling into insignificance in light of the growing ecommerce generation, there is still a demand for shopping in physical premises.

Snack connoisseurs and ecommerce giants, Graze Box have rapidly risen to a £68m annual sales success following its launch onto the online scene back in 2009. The company packages health-driven snacks which are sold to customers on a low-cost subscription basis and sent to them via the post in a trendy cardboard box designed specifically to fit through letter boxes. However, the brand announced just this month that it would be tapping into the physical market and bringing their snacks to their highstreet. Graze will hit the ground running by rolling out into 850 Sainsbury’s stores, as well as appearing on shelves in Boots and WHSmith.

So why rock the boat by taking a successful online business offline?

Some might (and do) ask why, if the business was flourishing so well in the world of online trading, is there a need to introduce the complexities that inevitably come with running a bricks-and-mortar business? Well business is all about reinvention, evolution and keeping customers who are easily bored, on their toes. If you are rigid in the production and delivery of your products and services then consumers are likely to lose interest and go in search of the next big thing. Launching a physical shop, showroom or office may provide your customers with the improved legitimacy, accessibility and reinvention that they are constantly subconsciously seeking.

Graze chief executive, Anthony Fletcher agrees that yes, this “may seem like a contrary move” for the brand but explained that it was the customers themselves who said it would be “more convenient if the product was available in a number of different ways.” As we all know, the customer is always right and if your audience is calling for you to reinvent how you provide your products and services well then, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do to keep them on side. However, there are a few thing you need to consider before introducing your ecommerce business into the world of bricks-and-mortar and that’s where we come in…

Consider becoming a stockist first – What Graze is doing by becoming a stockist in a handful of already-established retailers is extremely wise and a tactic that we would advise any bricks-and-mortar novice to employ.

Getting your goods stocked in a shop that already has a solid customer base will enable you to piggy back off the reputation of the unit and build up relationships with other brands. This approach will also enable you to expose your product to a wider demographic and gain important insight into the demand for your goods on the physical highstreet. It also means you can spread your reach and not have to remain as static as you would when committed to one exclusive unit.

Readdress your budget – If you do choose to branch out into your own bricks-and-mortar premises then you have every right to be extremely excited but we would implore you to keep your feet firmly on the ground when it comes to budgeting. While launching a physical outlet is exhilarating, it will also be an incredibly hefty time and financial commitment.

We advise that before you sign on any dotted line, you should revisit your business plan, set up a meeting with your accountant and consult your budget honestly to establish whether this is something you can truly afford. You will be obliged to cover additional financial costs such as business rates, rent, staff wages and bills so it’s important you have access to the required capital.

Pick your location well – Irene Dickey, lecturer in management and marketing at the University of Dayton School of Business says that, in the bricks-and-mortar world, “the three most important decisions [you will] make are location, location and location”. So whether you’re looking for the best stores to stock your products in or for your very own physical unit, finding the right location is key.

Go and have a wander around different areas, get a professional demographic analysis of your potential areas, do whatever it takes to ensure you make the right selection because chosen well, location can be an extremely successful marketing tool.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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