What if you could make more money selling online than you are making right now in your bricks and mortar store? What if, for instance, you could sell an item for $900 online that will go for only $300 in your store?
What am I, nuts? No, says marketing expert Jim Novo. That very thing is happening in the Southeast, where Novo lives. "Many antique stores down here have completely closed their physical locations, and the reason is that, for any given item, it generally sells for close to three times, in New York, what it sells for in Florida.
"We have seen quite a few of those kinds of places down here," he says, "where [retailers] have put signs in their windows, "See me on e-bay.´ "
That particular business model, he says, happens to be extremely well-suited for online sales "because you´re dealing with somewhat rare merchandise, and there are people out there actively looking for it."
Another type of merchandise that works well online, Novo says, is unique clothing, "either where the owner sews her own stuff or has access to unique products." Clothing that is not a mainstream brand — that you have to go to New York or Los Angeles to buy — will sell online.
"If you´ve got a store that´s selling the same kind of stuff everybody else is selling, it´s probably not going to work," Novo says.
His suggestion to a retailer wanting to test online selling is this: Take whatever it is that you have that you think is unique, and start with that.
If it works, then keep adding merchandise. Before you know it, you may have a full-blown online store.
Next week in Retail Strategies, Jim Novo talks about retailing mistakes. Be sure to tune in.