Bottom Line Up Front: Are you taking advantage of the massive business potential that online stores offer yet? We break down the benefits — and give you a complete marketing kit to help you capture leads — below.
As businesses start reopening and consumers start thinking about not just what they want to buy, but how they want to buy it, e-commerce is getting some major attention. Sure, it was already a popular endeavor before the pandemic — but now?
People are looking for ease and convenience more than ever before. They’re looking for clear-cut options and simple-to-navigate platforms — and safety. Because, even though communities are opening up again, many are still wary about heading into crowded shopping malls and retail stores.
Why expose ourselves to unnecessary risks when we can buy what we need from our couch?
In the apparel decorating industry specifically, e-commerce isn’t just a relevant add-on. It makes sense.
It can help you simplify the entire life-cycle of your customers’ buying journeys. Not only are you able to showcase designs to help them visualize the proposal, but you’re also able to collaborate on those designs and set up custom online stores for them to promote and sell their goods.
And you’re able to do it all remotely.
InkSoft Stores is the tool that makes it all possible. It simplifies the buying process — for your customers and their end-consumers — but it also offers invaluable opportunities for marketing and sales. How? Let’s dive in.
An Online Store, Explained
An online store is, simply put, an e-commerce enabled online shop that’s created and managed by a business, in order to provide an easy way for end-consumers to place orders online.
The key word there is ‘easy.’ Online stores offer customers the easiest and most convenient buying experience possible — and, as business operators who pride ourselves on removing as much friction and frustration from the buying process as we can? Well, it’s safe to say that online stores beat out paper order forms — or whatever other finicky order submission process you use — every time.
Is An Online Store Right For Your Customers?
Here’s your answer: online stores are perfect for any selling opportunities that involve groups of end-consumers that need to place individual orders.
Regardless of demographic. Regardless of products on offer.
We’ll say it again: everyone wants ease and convenience. These stores offer end-consumers 24/7 access, they offer them the autonomy to spend however long — or short — they’d like looking around, and they offer them safe and secure check-out processes.
Right now, end-consumers are looking for simple, stable experiences. So much of their lives is surrounded by chaos and uncertainty — so it’s your job to make sure their buying experience isn’t.
Is An Online Store Right For You?
That depends — do you like saving time while you’re also increasing your sales potential? Do you like having built-in marketing strategies and limitless reach?
If yes, then… yes.
Let’s break down the time savings. Online stores automate your order collection process and store your order data electronically, removing any chance of human error, like double order entry. The technology does the admin work for you, so you (and your team) can focus on building — and strengthening — your customer relationships.
Speaking of those relationships, online stores are a great way to differentiate your business from the competition. If you can offer your customers cutting-edge tools to increase their reach and sales, and improve their end-consumers’ buying experience, then you’re all but guaranteeing they keep coming back.
Some other perks? You can take on customers in new geographic regions and territories, because you’re not limited by physical proximity. You have a foundation that’s scalable for big growth with no incremental costs. And the technology makes your business seem even more relevant, legitimate, and masterful than before.
Finally, let’s look at the marketing potential. Your customers and end-consumers alike can share their online stores on social media, exposing your products to massive populations of people that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise reach. Every time an end-consumer clicks onto an online store, they’re looking at your products — and seeing your e-commerce capabilities. That’s natural promotion, and it leads to major brand exposure.
Now that you’re seeing all the benefits, let’s get into the logistics. Are all online stores the same? Which online store should you be using when? Here are all the details you need.
Online Stores Are Specialized
That’s right — there are different online store capabilities for different selling opportunities. There are six main selling opportunities — which we’ll go over below — and each has a different purpose.
But whether it’s a pop-up store or an evergreen store, a fundraising store or a company store, a pitch store, or a targeted personalization store — all online stores have one overarching thing in common.
They all want to maximize your sales potential — and reach more people than you ever thought possible.
Online Store #1: The Pop-Up Store
Pop-up stores are ideal for selling opportunities that have a short duration — and therefore require a quick response. They’re typically single-use, like for a family reunion, and have a direct line to the target end-consumers.
Some examples of use-cases for pop-up stores include: school spirit wear programs, sports, and athletic ‘fan gear,’ summer camp programs, family reunions, and live conference or event merchandise.
Pop-up stores are relevant — to a time or to an event — and they should come with a high degree of urgency as a result.
Online Store #2: Evergreen Stores
Opposite from pop-up stores, evergreen stores are for sales opportunities that are long-term and continuous. These stores are created with the intention of staying online — and open — for extended periods of time, and they often bring in a wider range of customers.
Examples of case-uses for evergreen stores include stores for brands, celebrities, influencers, bands, churches, special interest groups, and cause marketing.
Online Store #3: Fundraising Stores
Fundraising stores are — you guessed it! — online stores that are oriented around supporting a specific fundraising opportunity. They’re similar to pop-up stores in that they’re typically only live for a fixed amount of time, and they rely on urgency to accumulate sales in a short period.
Case-use examples of a fundraising store include school and classroom fundraisers, sports and athletics fundraisers, special interest/advocacy group/cause fundraisers, church missionary and events fundraisers, local community issues and affairs fundraisers, persons in need and memorial fundraisers, and political campaign and causes fundraisers.
The marketing potential of online stores is especially visible — and vital — in fundraiser stores, where the campaign’s reach (as a result of its digital presence) equates to a much larger impact.
Online Store #4: Company Stores
Company stores are used for selling branded products to your business customers. Companies love these online stores because they eliminate inventory storage and product management, and they make the buying process more seamless for the end-consumers (the employees) too.
Examples of case-uses for company stores include employee uniform programs, employee swag, and merch programs, and employee appreciation, recognition, and rewards programs.
Companies can also use online stores for their marketing materials, ordering (or releasing) custom branded products for marketing needs like giveaway t-shirts for an event, or welcome kits for new customers.
Online Store #5: Pitch Stores
Pitch stores are a little different from the other options — they’re not so much selling products as they are selling solutions, which we know is far more effective in getting (and keeping) customers.
These pitch stores are used to show potential customers what you can do. In terms of products, sure, but also in terms of selling those products. What technology are you offering? What built-in marketing tools come with those e-commerce capabilities?
These pitch stores let you show — rather than tell — exactly what’s on offer. Using InkSoft, you can create custom pitch stores for each prospective customer, including the products and printing methods you’re recommending. Not only are these stores quick to make, but they’re also a differentiator — because they show your customers you go the extra mile.
Pro Tip: In InkSoft, you can disable the e-commerce functionality at each unique store — which turns any store into a pitch store.
Online Store #6: Targeted Personalization Stores
What on earth is a targeted personalization store? We’re glad you asked. Targeted personalization stores work to attract highly targeted consumers, based on their interest.
When you’re selling products, you have two possible strategies: go broad, and market to a large potential customer base, or go targeted, and focus all efforts on a select, well-defined consumer.
If you go broad, you’re selling custom t-shirts. If you go targeted, you’re selling something far more specific — like custom family reunion t-shirts.
Targeted personalization stores work to generate impressive sales results — but in order to leverage them, you need to make sure they’re really targeted. To do that, you need a feature that has the power to control products, designs, clip, and feature function inside the online store.
That’s where InkSoft’s online designer feature comes in.
Using InkSoft Stores, you can enable and customize the Designer for each and every online store that’s powered by our technology. That means that you’ll have full control over the end-user design and the personalization experience, so the store remains as targeted as possible. You can even offer a hybrid of pre-decorated products and blank customizable products to ensure the best sales results — so there’s something for everybody.
Pitching & Presenting Online Stores
When you’re pitching and presenting online stores to your customers, one of the most important notes to hit is how easy they are. Technological features sometimes get a bad rep, or have preconceived notions surrounding them, about people needing to be a technology wiz in order to use them effectively. But with InkSoft Stores, that couldn’t be further from the case.
Online stores offer simplicity like never before. Here’s how you should be breaking that down for your customers:
Simplified Order Fulfillment
We receive, print, store, and distribute all orders for seamless fulfillment — that you never have to worry about.
End-consumers have access to the store 24/7, which means they can order whenever it’s most convenient for them. And you never have to deal with storing, handling, or managing the inventory.
Simplified Accounting (especially important to company stores)
There’s single invoicing — one invoice per month for fulfilled products, so you get the full picture, simplified. And there’s consistent reporting for accuracy and transparency.
Local delivery is always an option. Other flexible shipping options include pick-up and drop shipping. And kitting and custom packaging services are available, too.
The Wrap Up
So there it is: the full, comprehensive look into what makes online stores so beneficial to apparel decorators. And not just beneficial, but vital. Especially today.
No matter the sales opportunity. No matter the products on offer, and no matter the demographic your customers are targeting. Online stores always offer unbeatable efficiency. They always offer increased reach and sales potential. And they always make sense.
Pro-tip: it’s not just about the current sales opportunity, either — it’s about the sales opportunities that can come from it. Keep in mind that many end-consumers likely belong to organizations and groups of their own that could benefit from an online store.
Use the ‘Call-To-Action’ feature in InkSoft stores to not only generate interest and create awareness but also to collect those leads.
See? There are countless ways you can use online stores, and there are countless ways you can benefit directly from them. So get going. Promote them to your customers (new and old), get comfortable creating pitch stores, and get ready to see massive results.
Get the Online Store Marketing Copy Kit
Register for our professionally written online store marketing copy kit to access turn-key messaging to pitch online stores to your customers! The kit includes:
- Email messaging
- Email subjects lines
- Social media messaging
- Call-to-action messaging
By registering, you’ll be notified of additions and new content and tools.