Why Local Shops Should Bolster Their Online Presence

As a local shop you might not have an online presence, or you may have a small one but, as is often said; your online presence is just as important as your physical presence. But let’s look at why that is and why bolstering your online presence is not only feasible but beneficial.

First, let’s look at the proverbial elephant in the room: competition from large-scale online retailers. It’s well known that they will more than likely beat a small local shop on price and convenience. But do they have to? Shipping is shipping and any local retailer can offer the same convenience of delivery, particularly locally, but a local shop can also offer collection at a cost savings to both the retailer and the customer, more on this later.

Additionally, an online presence can boost your customer base, perhaps to the point where you are able to get better prices from your wholesalers, thus leading you to be more competitive in price as well, or more profitable. And if you find you have downtime during the days, this is when you can take on the aspects of packaging at no additional cost, simply by utilising the time you have available already.

Now, let’s look at the characteristics of your customers. There are a number of factors here from being pressed for time, to access, to lifestyle. Let’s break them down:

Let’s face it, we live in a fast paced world and people don’t have the time (or take the time) they need to do all the things they want to do or get the things they need. Hence, the proliferation of online shopping. Initially it’s convenient to pop online to do your shopping when you’re pressed for time and it’s just as easy for someone to type www.xyz.com as it is for them type www.abc.com. That’s where your online presence makes you competitive by virtue of being easy to find; you’re just as easy to access as any other shop out there.

So, by having a strong online presence, you not only make yourself accessible but also potentially increase your customer base in the same effort. The same people that might pass your shop day to day, but then go to a major online retailer instead of stopping in, will just as easily be able to go to you via your online presence. Additionally, when you’re closed at 5 or 8 pm, you’re customers can still buy from you at 1 a.m. You’ve suddenly become a 24 hr business without having to work 24 hrs/ day.

It’s well known that one of the biggest costs to a small business is advertising, and all the old traditional methods such as mailers and flyers have been proven over time to be ineffective and costly. But, an online presence becomes your advertising. It’s a way for people to browse at their convenience. It’s a way for you to show off new and exciting products. It’s a way for you to communicate with your customers.

There are many techniques that can be utilised to communicate with your customers via your online presence and the advantage that you have as a local business is that your communication can be personal, targeted, and much easier to connect with. You could tie into local events, make connections with other local businesses, and more. You, more than anyone will know that business isn’t just business, it’s about people and connecting with them.

But what else do customers want, particularly something that you, as a local business, can provide that the large-scale online retailers can’t? A shopping experience! And that’s something that shoppers are starting to yearn for. Many people still want to see and touch the things they are buying before they do, and it can make for a stronger sale. The only way to do that is to get them into your shop.

Online shopping has the opportunity to provide the gateway into your physical shop. By bolstering your online presence you can give your customers that chance to “pre-shop”, to look at the selection of products that you have before coming in, the selection of quality products that you, as the retailer have chosen. You’re online presence is your commercial, your teaser that not only allows people to buy, but entices them in the door.

Not only that, your online presence gives your customers the focus they may need and want. Rather than sifting through thousands of similar products that overwhelm shoppers, you can actually take advantage of a more limited range of products to focus your customer’s attention and help them make decisions; use your selection to your advantage.

Similarly, you can get to know your customers and use your expertise to make recommendations to them for other products. This can be complimented by the various algorithms available to automate recommendations but as a small shop, you have the edge of adding in a more personal touch. As well, if you offer online shopping with collection, this is the trifecta: The convenience of easy online shopping for the customer, you get the customer in your store to see more products without having to deal with shipping, and your customer gets the luxury of a personal shopper.

Bolstering your online presence isn’t just about trying to compete; it’s about improving and bolstering your existing business strategies. It’s about enhancing and complimenting what you already have to make the best use of your time and investment by giving your customers the things that they want: convenience and cost.

Most importantly it’s about giving your customers the things that the larger competition can’t; an experience and a personal touch. And amongst this, it’s about making your business more visible and more accessible, to get you more customers and more income with as little investment as possible.

Think Globally, Shop Locally

Shopping has changed in the last ten years. Once a novelty, the act of ordering goods online has become the new norm. Shopping online is convenient, fast and offers you a world of choices and options at your fingertips.

Perhaps inevitably, corporate monoliths have risen up. Certain companies have come to the forefront of the online shopping landscape by offering faster delivery, cheaper prices and more choice.

But all of this comes at a cost. A cost to the community, your community.

In recent times the importance of shopping local has come to prominence, perhaps in response to the rise of aforementioned global online retailers who have come under fire for poor conditions for workers, tax avoidance and other criticisms.

Whilst highlighting these concerns, shoppers have also sought a positive solution. One of the most convincing arguments for helping your local community is to shop locally. Shopping locally benefits your community. It also benefits the environment. And, perhaps most importantly, shopping locally means that the money you spend stays in the community.

When e-commerce really came into mainstream consciousness, shops on the high street struggled to compete. E-commerce was new, untested, unproven. Small local businesses didn’t have the time or money to invest in such a venture as setting up their own website for online shopping.

Nowadays, all that has changed.

Myriad local businesses, from butchers to bottle shops now have online ordering. Where before it wasn’t even a given that a local shop would have any kind of online presence at all, nowadays it’s becoming increasingly common for you to be able to order locally produced goods straight to your doorstep. It’s a marriage of the convenience of shopping online and the ethical benefits of shopping locally.

If you are a local business owner contemplating a foray into e-commerce and taking orders online, it’s easier than you might think. Just as setting up your own website has become a much easier and more accessible endeavour in recent years, so too has setting up your own online shop.

If you’re dipping your foot into the waters of e-commerce and feel daunted by considerations such as finding an online ordering system and payment processor, our friendly experts are standing by to help. We can help get you set-up so that your business has a reach that extends beyond the high street, giving your customers the option to shop online and shop locally. To learn more about getting your business online, please do not hesitate to get in touch, we’re ready to help!

Just Eat Is Too Expensive, Say over 60% of Takeaways

It might have been a relatively small survey, but over 60% of takeaways in said survey recently claimed they would prefer an alternative to Just Eat. Big and popular platforms like Just Eat, inevitably, aren’t for everyone – but if the vast majority of your supply chain aren’t satisfied… there’s a real problem.

The takeaways in question using Just Eat say the online ordering giant’s charges aren’t fair, according to a survey of 405 fast food restaurants undertaken recently by Preoday, who offer a free mobile app builder service. All the while, over 50% of these takeaways are looking for an alternative to Just Eat, to combat poor profit margins (amongst other reasons).

Of the restaurants who took part in the survey, on average they paid £725 per month to Just Eat (based on a 10% minimum order commission). Those who paid more, were understandably frustrated; over 80% of those surveyed who were charged more than £1000 per month, thought their fees were unfair.

On another important note – 50%+ mentioned they had seen a drop in sales from loyal customers, who used Just Eat to place their order instead of going direct. One way to combat this as a takeaway restaurant is to set up your own online ordering website/app with a platform such as TAPN.TO, which can even be set up alongside the food portals for a gradual transition.

Of course, there are a couple of points worth noting about this survey. First off, the sample size of the study. It was around 5% of the many thousands of takeaways in the UK that use Just Eat. This is relatively small.

Additionally, the company who sponsored the survey (Preoday, who offer mobile apps), undertook it at the same time as launching their mobile app builder software for takeaways.

These points don’t necessarily discredit the results of the survey, they’re just worth bearing in mind!

Just Eat themselves haven’t chimed in on this issue. However, a representative for the company did state that restaurants on average, see their order values increase by up to 30% when signing up to Just Eat.

So, what’s the future for Just Eat? Well, their success may not be forever – no middle man can survive in the long term if their suppliers are getting the raw end of the deal.

5 Ways to Secure Your Local Business

It’s no secret that these days, local custom is becoming harder and harder to hold onto. Competition from big online retailers and supermarkets is increasing by the day, with customers choosing “the path of least resistance” – in other words, the easiest and quickest option for gratification!

With this in mind, let’s explore 5 ways you can futureproof your local business, secure more custom locally, and grow your business through these times.

Efficient order preparation

With major retailers and supermarkets offering order turnaround times of only a matter of hours, or in some cases, less than an hour – it’s vital to process and prepare your customers orders swiftly. Whether they be online orders, telephone orders, via social media or in-store. Online orders in particular need to be turned around quickly, or the advantage to your customer ordering online has essentially vanished! Keeping in line with these expected standard will not only improve your service to local customers, but also offer you an edge over competitors who haven’t kept up.

Quick and simple delivery options

Attention spans have gotten shorter in the past few years; that’s a fact! Keeping your delivery options short, simple and quick will encourage local customers to order time and time again. Having a complicated list of delivery dates, rules and options is likely to lead to confusion and reduced sales, especially online – keep things quick and simple and customers will thank you! If it means setting up a same or next day delivery service, running each and every day, so be it. It’ll pay off in the long run and further secure your local custom.

Offer a “click and collect” service

In much the same vein as the previous point, giving customers a choice to collect their order within a matter of hours can often be more convenient than arranging a delivery, or waiting in for their order to be dropped off. The bigger players have proven the popularity of the Click and Collect concept; consumers appreciate the flexibility this offers. Another advantage of Click and Collect, is that it blurs the line between your online and your offline presence. Many of the big supermarkets and retailers have great success with Click and Collect – there’s no reason you shouldn’t compete and offer this too!

Offer an easy Online Ordering service

It’s no surprise that customers buying habits have shifted more and more to shopping online. One excellent method to secure your local business is to offer an easy and convenient online ordering service to your customers. Offering a great online shop will encourage customers to spend money with you, and not the big supermarkets and chains. This secures your local customer base for years to come and is a wise investment. If you’re looking for an Online Ordering System/Software, why not try ourselves? We’re all about building local business here at TAPN.TO!

Stay ahead of the curve

This is a tough one, as it does require a constant effort and investment, but it’s well worth it. Customers, especially locally, do tend to “follow the leader” when it comes to where they shop, the products they buy and where they visit. So keeping up to date with the latest trends and establishing yourself as a leader in your space, is likely to always be a wise move. Great businesses take risks, try new things and even set new trends – make your local business the one to keep up with!

That just about sums up our top 5 methods with which to secure your local business and customer base. Can you think of any more? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Buying Flowers Online More Popular Than Ever

Only seven or eight short years ago, only a few % of the British public had bought flowers online. By 2015 though this had increased to around 10%. Now (at time of posting) this number is at 13%, according to a new analysis by Royal Flora Holland!

Flowers are possibly a commodity that you wouldn’t think to shop online; your local high street florist or even supermarket probably comes to mind initially. But as customers start to use online shopping channels more and more these days, for more of their purchasing, it’s not too much of a shock that there’s been a steady rise in floral trade online.

Thinking about it from a customer standpoint, there are quite a few reasons you might want to order flowers online. The biggest one is that you don’t need to leave the house – you can have a bouqet of beautiful fresh flowers delivered with just the tap of a screen, or the click of a mouse. This is incredibly handy, especially when you can shop them online locally, another big plus!

One other great thing about taking advantage of an online florist is that you can choose to order flowers for delivery to wherever you like (normally). For instance, if Mother’s Day is approaching, but your mum lives on the other side of the country, no problem whatsoever! It’ll be easy to have a boquet of beautiful flowers delivered to her directly. Alternatively you might want to have flowers sent to someone for their anniversary, birthday or another event of note.

Online florists tend to have a wide range of bouqets and complimentary gifts to select from, and are normally sorted for convenience, into categories such as Occassion, or Bloom. This makes it really easy to find exactly the flowers you want.

Sending a bouqet of flowers via your local online florist is a rising trend, part of the wider trend of shopping moving online. Even if the recipient lives near by, or even in the same building for that matter, it’s still a great surprise when there’s a knock on the door, and the mystery package is revealed to be a bouqet of beautiful, fresh flowers.

Do you run a florist locally? Why not take advantage of online tools like Tapn.to, to grow your business locally and online at the same time. Do you have any thoughts on the increasing popularity of online florists? Why not leave a comment below!

Could Content Marketing Benefit Your Small Business?

If you’ve been looking into ways to advertise your small business both online or offline, you’ll have no doubt heard the term “Content Marketing” floating about, as of late. What is Content Marketing though? And what does it mean for the marketing of your business?

If you check into the meaning of “Content Marketing” online, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a un-achievable dark art form, only available to the digital marketing experts and those who have been working with search engines for years. The reality is though, that you don’t need to be part of some exclusive club or sign up for a free e-book to know just how Content Marketing can benefit the online presence of your small business or high street shop.

In essence, Content Marketing is the process of creating and sharing content online, that “doesn’t explicitly promote a brand, but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services”. You might remember at some point scrolling through Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, and seeing a post or a video which shows an exciting DIY project, with step by step instructions on how to complete it. This grabs you straight away, before you even realise it has been re-posted by an online retailer, who of course have an interest in you seeing this content. They’ll add instructions on how to click through to their website, and shop the materials you need! If it’s locally, that’s even better.

The science behind Content Marketing is that these social media users and potential customers are much more likely to pay attention with your content which is less “salesy” but more interesting and informative. You will get more views, shares, likes, and of course thanks to these, more exposure to your own brand, website or product. If you’re seeking a cost-effective, easy and simple way to get your product or brand out there, Content Marketing might just be the perfect solution. All you need is a little imagination and creativity!

The ultimate goal for any marketeer though, is to “go viral” with their content. However, this can’t really be forced – creating content which is designed to go viral, is a bit like making your mind up to win the lottery! It’s a nice idea, but isn’t realistic if you simply approach it with this in mind. When something “goes viral”, it’s normally a complete accident, mostly based on luck or a perfect storm of factors coming together, snowballing. Simply copying something you’ve seen before isn’t likely to work either; a dog on a skateboard will be seen as a little desperate these days, by your average consumer. There’s a balance to be found here – it’s wise to keep in mind the message and the tone you’re looking to convey, and it’s very important to be consistent in your Content Marketing too.

The leading search engine, Google, gives priority to content which it thinks has most value to the user searching for it. Thus, if you create content, or a video, blog post or infographic full of useful and informative information, this will reach a wider audience and further your exposure. Thanks to its overall positive SEO impact! A few example of these could be a how-to article, an infographic relating to your service or product, or a support video showing how to achieve something. Keep in mind the overall aim here is to create interesting and engaging content. From here, your new customers and sales will come, slowly but surely.

Of course, Content Marketing shouldn’t be sales-focused; but you can of course include a link to your product or service alongside it, providing it’s appropriate and doesn’t water down your content too much!

Compared to more traditional advertising, Content Marketing actually isn’t that different. Think about the Cadbury’s advert from a few years ago, with the Gorilla drumming – that advert wasn’t primarily trying to persuade customers to purchase chocolate, and so it will have got all the more interest and attention due to this. The modern approach to Content Marketing makes it all the more accessible these days, as you don’t require a huge marketing department to compete with the bigger companies!

However, there are certainly many, many more consumers these days and it’s more of a fight for their attention spans. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your content and message stands out, to rise to the top. Of course it’s a little cliched, but thinking outside of the box and having a brainstorm, can be useful in this case! It’s wise to consider multiple ideas and think carefully before putting out your content, making sure it’s appropriate and the message is clear.

We wish you the best of luck in your Content Marketing efforts – so go forth and capture your customers attention!

5 Emerging Trends in Online Shopping

The new year of 2019 is already looking to be rather an interesting one, particularly in the world of online shopping, online ordering and e-commerce! Keeping in mind that it’s better to be in the know and getting prepared for upcoming innovation as theses trends become more and more commonplace, in this article let’s have a look at 5 emerging trends in online shopping.

Mobile Payment Methods

Since the emergence of Apple Pay and Android Pay in 2014 and 2015 respectively, it’s becoming increasingly popular to make payments both online and in-store using these mobile payment apps. With more customers install these apps to make payments easier, faster and more secure, it’s vital that your online ordering system is geared up for these payment methods. Thankfully, with Tapn.to and Stripe, your online ordering store can be Apple/Android Pay ready!

Merging Online and In-store

Customers are increasingly expecting the lines between their online and in-store experiences to be blurred. It’s now commonplace to be able to order online, and collect in store at a convenient date/time. More so in the larger supermarkets and with larger online retailers, but why not start offering this service and compete? There is clearly a demand by the general population for Click and Collect, so start satisfying this with your own online ordering system, and hold onto the business that might otherwise slip away to larger competitors, by competing in all areas!

Increased Focus on Mobile Ordering

You might be tired of hearing how crucial mobile browsing is, however it’s really important to ensure your business is 100% ready for mobile ordering – mobile shopping is only getting more popular, and recently surpassed desktop and tablet shopping. And it’s only set to increase! At this point in time, it certainly seems like mobile will fast become the main device of choice for online ordering, and in some cases it is already. Happily, with Tapn.to, your mobile ordering experience will be as slick as possible, with our Progressive Mobile Ordering App enabled on each online ordering site we provide.

Video as a Digital Marketing Tool

More and more, we’re seeing brands and online retailers focussing on video content, to help increase their engagement and boost their online sales. Content such as how-to videos, product videos etc (particularly in retail) can improve your return on investment, as well as increasing trust in your products and your brand. It’s pretty quick these days to set up a YouTube channel and make a video using your mobile phone. If you can, it’s a sensible idea to invest a little time or money in good video content for your online store.

Same Day Delivery or Collection

It’s crucial that you be aware of the increasing popularity of same or next day delivery/collection services offered by the likes of Amazon. Prime appears to have set a standard now, and it seems like more and more consumers are expecting a very swift collection or delivery service. Thus it’s important to spend some time working out the logistics of same/next day delivery or collection of your products.

That just about wraps up our look at some emerging trends in online shopping. We hope this helps in your search for an online ordering system, and if there’s anything you think we left out, why not let us know in the comments below?