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Integrate your Online Business with your Bricks and Mortar Enterprise

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 16 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Online Business Enterprise Management

Many small enterprises start a online business to give them a higher profile in the marketplace. An online business can also enable them to gain a separate selling channel they can use for special promotions or to dispose of stock that is proving difficult to move in their store.

Today, bricks and mortar shops and the Internet are very close bedfellows as consumers expect that the shops and stores they visit in the high street to have a website they can buy from when they are at home. The closer you can integrate your online and offline businesses together the more lucrative your enterprise will become.

Stock Control

The key to better business management of your physical store and online business is to think of them as a whole. The management of your stock control is a good example. Goods that come into your physical store for sale can also appear on your website. Many online businesses for instance use an eBay store to help them ensure their stock sells through.

What is important is to ensure your business management is able to handle both your real and virtual stores simultaneously. Your physical store’s tills can be linked to your stock control and management system. The practical upshot being that then you sell an item in your physical store, the available stock for your online store is adjusted accordingly. This ensures your online customers are not disappointed trying to order an item your online business doesn’t have in stock.

Discounts and Promotions

One of the great advantages of having an online business to complement your existing store or shop is that you can run web only promotions to cultivate your online market. Good business management is about understanding what your customers want from your enterprise. If you find that certain promotions are successful in your physical store, try them within your online business, and visa versa.

Your online business is also a global shop window for your physical store. Many of the customers that come into your high street store may have discovered your business via your online business. Today, consumers use the Internet to price check before they buy. Understanding the symbiosis that your online business can have with your offline store, is at the heart of good business management.

Back Office Systems

The business management systems - accounting being a good example - may be set-up for your offline business. When you open your online enterprise you have to think about how you can efficiently manage both of these sales channels. It’s often a good idea to keep the income and expenditure of both businesses separately so you can track how profitable they are.

Cross promotions that run online and off, can be analysed as can exclusive online offers, or promotions you have just in your physical store. The important element of business management here, is to ensure that each business supports itself, and is not subsidising the other.

Additional Services

In a crowded marketplace anything you can do to make your enterprise standout from the crowd will translate into high profits for your business. As you also have a physical store, offering the ability to order online and collect in store has proven to be popular over the last few years. This also allows you to improve your business management skills as you can meet the people that use your online business. Developing a closer relationship with your customers is essential for the long-term success of your enterprise.

Business Intelligence

The customers that use your online store are a valuable source of marketing information. Over time you can use analytical software to identify patterns in their buying habits. This not only enables you to evolve your online business to make it even more attractive to these customers, this information also enables you to improve the over all business management of your offline store.

In the minds of today’s consumers all business must have a website. The key to developing your enterprise is to use your offline and online businesses to present a complete shopping experience for your customers. Just using your online business as a dumping ground for out-of-date stock is missing a great opportunity that the Internet could offer your overall business. Integration is the key to better business management of your entire enterprise.

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