When you run an online shop that sells specialty goods, crafts, or services, you may occasionally have chances to take your business into the real world.
Whether it’s selling quick sketches at an anime convention, specialty cookies at a farmer’s market, or handspun glow-in-the-dark yarn at a fiber festival, you want to make the most of these opportunities.
There are a few things you’ll want to do, though, to make sure that you maintain the same level of professionalism at one of these events that you have on your website.
Plan for Payments
The first thing you want to take care of is your payment methods. On your eCommerce store, how you take payments is built into your shopping cart. When you take your business on the road, you will need a little bit more than that.
Don’t expect to take cash only, unless you are also planning to miss out on sales. Even at craft fairs and farmer’s markets, very few people carry a lot of extra cash for impulse buys. Instead, invest in some POS equipment.
Don’t be intimidated by this. Services like PayPal and Square actually offer simple POS devices that plug into smartphones and tablets. All you need to use them is the device and an Internet connection.
In combination with some simple POS software, this is an easy way to accept payments, keep track of transactions, and ensure your business account stays in sync.
Track Your Stock
Another concern you probably don’t have to worry about when you are selling from your website is keeping track of your stock. This is usually monitored as part of your eCommerce store’s backend.
Depending on compatibility and features, it may be possible to integrate your mobile POS software with your current inventory tracking system. However, if that’s not possible, you still want an easy way to keep everything organized.
Make sure your device is set up ahead of time with the inventory you are bringing with you. You may want to keep a separate spreadsheet, or even a hard copy in case something goes wrong with your mobile device.
Real world shows are a great place to try to sell stock that doesn’t display well online. If you have an item that you just can’t photograph, but which is amazing, make sure to bring it with you.
Don’t Forget Your Website
If you are taking all of your stock with you, then you will need to put your website on hiatus while you are on the road. After all, the last thing you want is to find out that you’ve sold that one-of-a-kind item twice, and now have an irate customer to deal with. If you are only bringing part of your stock, make sure to temporarily turn off the items that will be unavailable.
Make sure to alert your regular customers about where you will be. It’s quite possible that a few of those customers will make the effort to seek you out at the show.
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