How to move your micro-grocery store online

In the digital age, consumers expect convenience. As a micro-grocery store owner, your small establishment may only sell a limited range of local produce compared to commercial supermarkets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appeal to a large audience.

With your unique product line and personalized service, adding an online sales channel can drive significant business growth.

In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to help you move your micro-grocery store online.

8 steps to move your micro-grocery store online

It may be daunting to think about starting an online service for your micro-grocery store. However, if you break it down into manageable steps, you can cover all the bases. Follow the eight steps below to launch your online store.

1. Determine your delivery region

It can be expensive to deliver to far-flung destinations, so micro-grocery store owners should start by focusing on their local area. Plan your delivery region based on expected sales and budget. What are the nearest locations where a majority of customers reside?

You can always expand your scope once your online store starts performing well in the immediate area.

2. Devise your marketing strategy

Your existing marketing plan is probably based on having a brick-and-mortar store, but by going online, your business enters a new chapter. Before you dive into e-commerce, think about how you’ll promote your online business. A well thought-out marketing plan will go a long way toward ensuring the move pays off.

Create a marketing strategy that details how you’ll nurture strong relationships with your current customers and persuade them to start using your online service.

By focusing on SEO and leveraging paid ads, you can build brand awareness and optimize your online store so that it’s easy for people to find through online searches. With the right marketing strategy and tools, you can stand out from the competition.

3. Set up your e-commerce website

You need to expand your website and add functionality that allows people to place and pay for orders online. Set up a company portal that facilitates e-commerce transactions — from advertising products and prices to processing orders, providing delivery details, and making payments.

JotForm makes it easy for restaurants and grocery stores to set up online ordering. From accepting credit card payments to generating receipts and everything in between, JotForm can help you automate the ordering process for your micro-grocery store, sync orders to your favorite apps, and get paid instantly.

An example grocery order form template that micro grocery stores can embed into their e-commerce websites

Nowadays, customers expect a variety of payment options on the checkout page. You can set up an online payment system — such as PayPal, Square, or Stripe — that allows customers to choose from multiple payment options. These systems make it easy for customers to submit orders online, increasing your conversions and sales.

4. Implement an order tracking system

Delivery logistics are a key factor in the success of an online micro-grocery store. If items are lost or damaged while in transit, customers are unlikely to do business with you again.

With a robust tracking system, you can monitor deliveries from the point of purchase until delivery.

You can partner with a third-party delivery system like Instacart to keep tabs on your produce and ensure deliveries arrive safely.

5. Make your online store mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly website is crucial — around 56 percent of consumers use their smartphones to shop online. Test your website on mobile devices to make sure that it functions properly and offers a simple interface, smooth navigation, and an all-around enjoyable user experience.

If you make it easy for customers to find your products and place orders on your website using a mobile device,  they will be more likely to return or recommend the site to others.

6. Focus on security

One of the most important aspects of moving your store online is ensuring that your customers’ data is safe. Around 62 percent of customers are worried about “a hacker taking over a bank account to steal money,” while 65 percent are anxious about “losing personal data through a breach.”

You can choose a managed cloud-hosting platform like Trend Micro that takes care of your website’s security. Also, consider using secure e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce, as they have GDPR-compliant features and are PCI compliant. You can be confident that customer data will remain protected.

7. Leverage social proof

Nearly 78 percent of consumers value the advice they get from friends and family above all other marketing efforts. Social proof is a major driving force for local businesses, helping them build a trustworthy reputation that convinces new prospects to become loyal customers.

Once your micro-grocery store gets some traction and begins to grow, encourage customers to leave reviews — which you can display on your store’s website or social media profiles. This will help strengthen the reputation of your online store, which will attract even more customers.

8. Offer incentives to attract customers

Some customers may be apprehensive about shopping online, especially older generations, as they may worry about their groceries going missing in transit or credit card details being stolen. To ease their fears, don’t make an immediate, 180-degree shift in your business model, as this may deter once-loyal customers.

It’s better to offer incentives to persuade customers to transition gradually to using your online store. For instance, you can hand out coupons for online order discounts to customers in your shop, or you can send them through direct mail.

An online option is the natural evolution of your micro-grocery store

With people less inclined to visit physical stores, micro-grocery stores can thrive with the increasing demand for delivery services.

Businesses in all industries are realizing that going online is no longer an option — it’s a vital step in ensuring the longevity of their operations. Moreover, the move to online ordering enables a small local shop to reach a much larger audience.

While this may be a momentous shift in your business model, there has never been a better time to start an online grocery store. To get started, check out JotForm’s list of integrations to see how we can help you with a range of tasks, including taking customer orders and processing payments.

AUTHOR
Restaurant manager. Italian food lover. Spends most of her time in Little Italy, Boston to taste new flavor.

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