New to Doing Business Online? Here's What You Need to Know.
Giving your players a place where they can interact, find information about your store, and support your business is more valuable than ever right now. And the impact of a strong online presence will continue to benefit your business even when your brick-and-mortar shop is open again.
If you're new to operating online, here's a rundown of basic best practices that will help boost your online presence for the benefit of your whole business.
Creating an Online Store
If you choose only one way to add to your online presence, make it an online store.
Step one is picking a platform.
Ideally, you'll find one that syncs with your in-store POS. That will help keep all your stock organized and be easier to maintain once your location is open again. Gary Ray, owner of Black Diamond Games, recommends a Square online store. Check out his recommendations here.
If syncing with your POS isn't doable for whatever reason, there are other solutions.
Step two is choosing what to sell.
We've seen some WPN members take the COVID crisis as an opportunity to make their entire inventory available online, but that doesn't have to be the case. Basically, your community wants a chance to support you, and the goal of the online store—at least right now—is to create opportunities to do so.
So that might mean a curated list of a handful of high-impact, high-demand SKUs. You may have seen restaurants curate novel takeout or delivery menus during the COVID crisis—something they can put together with fewer resources than they're used to. Same idea.
Step three is delivery.
Shipping costs can add up quickly, so selling items that can be picked up later or digital gift cards that are great ways to keep sales coming in without shipping. If you can, some stores are doing curbside pickup or handling local deliveries themselves.
Getting your store online benefits your business in more ways than one—if 70% of WPN stores fulfill Ikoria preorders using an online sales platform or host remote Magic events, we'll double the whole WPN's allocation of Mystery Boosters.
Creating a Good User Experience
The most important thing to remember when working on your online store is that a person will be using it to accomplish a goal. Your site and store should make that as simple as possible for them.
Start out by choosing the most important actions you expect users of your website will want to take. Number one right now is, of course, supporting your store with a purchase. But there's also learning about your store, or finding your online community, etc. Make sure those actions are easy to take.
An easy-to-read menu with clear text that explains exactly what clicking on that button will do goes an incredibly long way in a good user experience.
When you think you've arranged everything perfectly, let someone else check it out and see if the navigation makes sense to them. Even better if it's someone who isn't in the industry. Completely fresh eyes can bring a lot of assumptions to light.
If you're new to ecommerce, there are a lot of platforms available to make a really simple process out of designing an online store and a website at once. Look into Squarespace, Shopify, or Big Commerce—these platforms have ecommerce capability built in.
Creating New Opportunities
If you promote your store through your online community, your players already know how to buy from you. But what about players looking to support a local store for the first time? Some basic Search Engine Optimization can help them find you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of writing your online content so it ranks higher in the results of search engines like Google. If you're putting words online anywhere—product descriptions, the header of your website, or the About Us of your store's Facebook—SEO is worth your time.
The first step is to think about what players are searching for to find their local game store—something like "game store in Seattle" (or wherever your store is located). Or "Magic: The Gathering in Seattle."
Come up with a handful of phrases like these that you'd like your store to show up for when people search them. Then, use those phrases in your online text.
The key is to use your phrases naturally. If you just type "game store in Seattle" over and over into your website, then your text isn't very helpful to website visitors—and search engines will drop your ranking for bad user experience.
Find a few places to work in your chosen phrases in a conversational tone, and you're good to go.
If you haven't already set up an online presence, now is the time. Take advantage of all the resources possible while your brick-and-mortar store is closed to keep supporting your business—and get started on opening your online shop today.