One question I get asked pretty regularly is why I don't sell online. There are a few reasons why I don't have an online store at the moment. One, it takes time. It's no different than running a retail storefront and in many ways it can be even more difficult. Yes, you can reach a much wider audience but the competition is much more fierce and to stay relevant in the digital market you need to invest a lot of time into your online storefront. There's time invested in the layout, time invested in all the data entry like uploading products, specs, descriptions, and photos. Time invested in optimization so you can be seen among the hundreds and hundreds of options available world wide.
There's also the matter of inventory and how competitive your pricing can be. We all love to get a good deal and online shopping is certainly a great way to get the most out of your budget. The reality is that the shop just isn't in the best position right now to compete for deals. That doesn't dishearten me because at the moment the shop is doing fine standing on it's own and that gives me the opportunity to invest in its foundation. Online is great for bargain hunting, but it can be constrained in it's personality. It isn't interested in who you are as a person. It can't ask you what adventures you're taking your newly purchased equipment on and won't be waiting for you to come back and tell it how the trip went. Your options for communicating your questions can be limited and you may often have to wait to hear back a response. Reaching a call center can make it challenging to get properly fitted for a pair of shoes. Online shopping can tell you what others thought of your product choices via reviews but you miss out on the details that come from a person-to-person interaction. A lot can be lost in translation and the subtleties from conversing with someone in person can be of great use to you in a decision.
Fortunately this leaves a great big opening in an area where the shop is able to compete very effectively. Through the shop, not only can I do all of the things described above, I'm limitless in my ability to connect with my community. Stop by the store on a Tuesday and you're sure to have a healthy treat waiting for you at the counter. Drop by on a Thursday and you'll have to elbow your way past the SW/AG crew and see if there's a tasty treat left before your bouldering session downstairs is done. Stop in to buy something and crash on the couch with your friends like you just got home and you're ready to take a load off, I'll even bring you a cold beverage. Ask me a hundred times about any piece of gear on the wall and I'll pay attention to you every time because I'm interested in making sure that you're as happy and comfortable as can be with your purchase. Or, don't buy anything at all and just come in and hang out, interact, make some friends, relax.
No doubt as the shop gets better equipped an eCommerce presence will form organically. For now, I'm happy to have a site that informs you about all the great things going on in the store in a way that peaks your interest and invites you to drop by. As things stand now, it's more beneficial for me in every way to have a genuine interaction with 100 people that want to come in and visit than a thousand people whom I know nothing about except where to ship their gear to. Have you ever heard that saying "work like you don't need the money"? Yeah, it's kind of like that. I do believe there's a way to connect with people through the web, I feel like I do that already through our social media outlets. I know that when I'm ready to devote some time to eCommerce, it will be with some innovative ideas on how to establish a genuine relationship with those that aren't able to drop in for a visit.