Approximately 20% of all businesses operate online, whether they’re fully online (e-commerce) or if they operate both online and in-person. E-commerce businesses are fairly popular, with their popularity increasing during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic when most in-person businesses were temporarily closed. Still, e-commerce businesses are still popular now.
If you have an e-commerce business, maybe you’re thinking about transitioning to an in-person business. This is possible, though it’s advised that you don’t switch to operating completely in person because this can severely limit your consumer base. Here are the steps you need to take to make a smooth transition.
As the owner of an e-commerce business, you may or may not already have drafted a formal business plan. It’s not absolutely necessary to have a business plan when you have an e-commerce business, but it can be very helpful. However, when starting an in-person business you’re definitely going to need to draft a business plan because a key component of a business plan is getting financing. Other parts of a business plan include:
- Company description
- The products you’re going to sell
- A market analysis
- Marketing strategies
A detailed business plan can also give you a clearer picture of everything: your goals, the amount of financing you’re going to need, and all of the tools and materials you’re going to need.
When starting an in-person business, one of the most important things you’re going to need is a building— and you have a few options when it comes to securing a commercial building. You can build from the ground up, but first, you’ll have to buy land before you start the construction of your building. Building also requires you to hire architects, interior designers, and contractors.
Another option you have is to buy or rent an existing building or space within a building, depending on how much space you need to operate in person. No matter what option you choose to go with, make sure that you choose a location that makes sense with the type of business you have. For example, it doesn’t make sense to open a tech business in a shopping district.
If you’re an e-commerce business, it’s likely that you already have general liability insurance. This covers claims of property damage or bodily injury. You should also have product liability insurance since you sell products to customers.
When opening a business in person, you’re going to have to obtain other types of insurance, such as commercial property insurance. This type of insurance covers your property in the event of it being damaged in a fire or burglary. All natural disasters aren’t always covered under commercial property insurance, so this is another type of insurance you’ll have to get. You’ll want to make sure that you’re financially protected in case something happens to your building.
Moving into a building expands your business, and that means that you’re going to have more tasks and less time to do them. Because of this, you may want to consider outsourcing certain parts of your business to another company. Some of the most outsourced business functions are:
- Accounting and bookkeeping
- Sales and marketing
- IT management
- Customer service
- Shipping and logistics
- Human resources
You may also want to hire someone to manage the online aspects of your business— or the in-person tasks that go into running a physical business. It can be very difficult trying to fulfill the tasks of both of you.
Just like insurance, you’re going to need more types of software once you expand to operating in-person. You definitely benefit from having CRM (customer relationship management) software so that you can see how your customers are interacting with your business now that you’re operating in person. Other types of software that will be helpful are sales and marketing software, time tracking software, and accounting software.
GSI offers managed services to help optimize all of these different applications. Having a managed service to house all of your business software gives you and your team more time to focus on other business tasks.
Finally, don’t forget to hire additional help. As an e-commerce business, you probably have a few employees or maybe none at all, but once you open doors to a physical business, you’re going to need full-time staff (and workers’ compensation insurance). Going from an online business to an in-person business takes a lot of work and a lot of changes, but it is possible.