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APRIL 13, 2022

Does it make sense to create an online shop in times of Corona and if so, what is the optimal implementation?

The ban on contact and going out, the nationwide closure of gastronomy and all non-relevant shops are forcing almost all restaurant owners and managers to look for new ideas and sales channels in order to continue to generate sales.

A banner on the showcase with the words "To Go" or "Call us: we deliver." is certainly a good start to draw attention to the new offer. However, this will only be a small target group reached. That is why many entrepreneurs are considering whether they can expand their onsite offering via online sales with an online shop in the short term.

What makes sense in such a situation, especially if you are not a marketing professional and have no idea about online and programming?

There are many ways to get to Rome or to your online shop. However, not every path makes sense or will confirm the goals set.

Agile working methods help us to reach goals quickly and to validate them: that is why we proceed iteratively:

1. If you have no online business experience and want to get started or already have a website:

First of all it is important that you create a website with your offer and all the products as well as descriptions, nice pictures and of course with prices. First without an online shop. With a small budget for Google AdWords you can advertise the offer cheaply regionally and test how it starts. Common social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram can also be well suited to promoting your product or service. This means that before investing in an online shop, it is important to validate whether your product/offer will be accepted and whether there is a need. If there is a demand, the first step is to accept all orders via a contact form and telephone and make customers happy. If you notice that you can no longer keep up with the processing of inquiries and the processing effort is increasing, you can take the next step: namely your own online shop. However, if you see that your offer is not accepted or the demand is too low, you can count yourself lucky at this moment because you have not invested a lot of time and money in an idea that has not been validated. It may make sense to rethink your product or offer, analyze the competition and do another test. Customer feedback is also essential: because customers are users who ultimately decide whether the product or service is something for them or not. This means they can quickly discover errors and provide important information. Just talk to your customers personally!

2. How do you implement an online shop once you have decided to do it?

You should never shoot at sparrows with a cannon: there is the right shop system forevery company size and requirement. Processes that run in the background and essentialfunctions for operation are decisive. Your budget also plays a major role, as doestechnical understanding, because you can also rent online shops such as Shopify,PrestaShop, etc. or program your own, such as WooCommerce or Shopware, or have atailor-made system programmed.
To get started or for "normal" use, a simple rental solution that you can quickly set upyourself is often sufficient. You still have to have some technical understanding, since thedetailed configuration is not always easy. The advantage, however, is that you can quicklyget started with ready-made templates that can be easily adapted.If complex processes such as a merchandise management system, a CRM or large orderquantities are in the foreground and are decisive for the operation, a professionally created andtailor-made solution is unavoidable. It is important that the shop is 100% integrated into all ofthe company's workflows and works without any problems.

Whether it's a rental solution (software-as-a-service) or tailor-made programming (custom solution): important are the priorities you set and functionalities that are primary or secondary. It is better to start small and expand the business model and technology step by step and grow sustainably between needs and possibilities, instead of having everything and only using 30% of it. The remaining 70% would simply be badly invested money that doesn't work for the company.

But does it make sense to create a shop or not?

A question that many are currently asking is: "Does an online shop help me to address a larger target group and boost my sales?"

The euphoria and the promises are always great at the beginning and after a short time you can see whether the project is worth it: an online shop is an additional monetary and time investment that is often and easily underestimated. Not only setting up the shop, but maintaining and marketing it takes time and budgets for online and offline advertisements. And the assumption that the first order will arrive a few minutes after completion is deceptive. Good things just need time and care. Large online shops such as Zalando or H&M invest a lot of money and time so that awareness grows and people use them. Of course you cannot compare a corporation with an SME or a café around the corner, but everyone should understand that this is a process

So if you have decided to communicate an online offer to your customers, proceed iteratively and always remember that often 80% instead of 100% is enough to be successful.