5 Tools Local Retailers Can Use to Build Digital Storefronts

Share this:

storeNinety-three percent of consumers who use smartphones to research products and services go on to complete their purchases, according to a November 2013 survey by Google/Nielsen. However, only 17% of those consumers actually complete their purchases using a mobile device. As local retailers continue in their quest to close as many deals possible, many are wondering why more consumers aren’t taking that final step and completing their transactions through mobile.

The answer, for the most part, has to do with functionality. The majority of local retailers — including those with basic websites that are optimized for mobile — still aren’t offering customers tools to browse listings and complete purchases with their smartphones. The cost of developing, managing, and hosting a digital storefront can be prohibitively expensive for smaller retailers. Now, some are beginning to rely on hyperlocal vendors with marketplace solutions.

Here are five platforms that local businesses can use to quickly (and cheaply) set up digital storefronts where customers can purchase goods and services via mobile.

1. Square: Attract customers using a mobile-optimized storefront.
Known primarily for its card reader, Square also provides its small business clients with a way to sell their products in its online marketplace. Once a retailer lists their products and sets up shipping in Square’s platform, consumers can find their goods while browsing the Square Market. Retailers receive emails every time an order comes in, and the sales they generate sync automatically with the Square Register app. Square provides its users with built-in marketing tools and social media integrations. Retailers also have the option to embed the products they’ve listed in Square Market on other websites, including their own. Retailers pay based on the number of sales they make. Square’s fees start at 2.75% per sale.

2. eBay: Access marketing tools to promote your mobile store.
eBay isn’t just for crafters and collectors. The online auction platform can also be a useful tool for retailers looking to quickly sell large quantities of goods online. Building an eBay Store allows a retailer to create a web presence and sell on mobile without paying for the management or hosting of their own site. Store designs can be customized and listing management tools make it easy to handle dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of listings. Retailers can offer discounts, track sales using real-time reporting, and promote their stores with email marketing tools. Costs for an eBay Store range from $19.95 per month for the Basic plan to $199.95 per month for the Anchor plan.

3. Scoutmob: Sell handmade goods to a worldwide audience.
Scoutmob’s Shoppe is a digital marketplace where local artisans can sell their independently made goods. Scoutmob specifically focuses on promoting clothing, jewelry, accessories, housewares, and art. The company asks its retail partners to have at least 50 to 250 bulk products and 10 to 20 low-quantity products available to buyers, and it posts products continually, unlike flash sale websites. Scoutmob sends its retailers daily sales summaries that they use to fulfill orders, with a vendor portal that includes all the tools necessary for managing an online store. Scoutmob pays for all shipping costs. It makes up this cost by marking up wholesale prices by 100%, and then offering a discount on that price to incentivize online sales.

4. Amazon: Reach millions of consumers on a popular sales channel.
Local retailers can sell products through their own Amazon “webstores” with no per-item listing fee. Retailers upload their listings, and those listings appear when customers search for products on Amazon. Customers also have the option of browsing through products in a retailer’s webstore, which is a virtual version of a community storefront. Businesses have the option of handling their own shipments or using Amazon’s fulfillment service to expedite the process. Amazon transfers payments to businesses in regular intervals, and charges $39.99 per month, plus other selling fees, for unlimited sales.

5. Etsy: Find new customers by joining a community marketplace.
Local sellers can use Etsy to list handmade goods, vintage items, and commercial craft supplies. Each retailer gets his own Etsy Shop, where he can direct customers to purchase products online or via mobile. Each Etsy item listing lasts for four months or until the item sells. The entire order fulfillment process can be managed through Etsy’s seller’s platform, with sellers purchasing and printing shipping labels directly through the company. A number of digital marketing and promotional tools are also available to sellers. Etsy charges $.20 for each item listing, and a 3.5% transaction fee on each sale. Sellers are billed once a month.

Know of other platforms that local retailers can use to build digital storefronts? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.