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Quick Guide to Selling Online and Why Pull Strategy is Just as Important as Push
What is the best strategy to sell online for a small business owner? This article will share two eCommerce concepts, the potential success of a combined approach, and how you can implement both immediately.
Push and Pull Ecommerce
If you’re familiar with marketing, then you’re likely well versed in inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a strategy that leads customers to your website thanks to free, quality content. Outbound marketing is more traditional and consists of following customers with consistent outreach.
Push and pull eCommerce strategies are very comparable to inbound and outbound marketing. Push eCommerce refers to listing items online and pushing them toward the market. Pull eCommerce is a strategy that targets customers, so they come asking for your products.
Let’s dive into further detail.
What is a Push Strategy?
A push strategy is just how it sounds—you are listing a percentage of your inventory to an eCommerce channel or several online channels. The listings can be created manually, one by one, or by using a listing export tool. It’s a simple way to get your items online, but there is no guarantee that your customers will find them or that they will come into your stores.
A push strategy is a good start for pawnbrokers because it helps train employees to take good pictures, describe items accurately, do quality assurance checks, and wrap/pack/ship the item to your customer. As an operator, if you have a company-branded site, a push strategy gives good visibility into how clean your store is and how proud your employees are of the store.
Selling online also means your store is undergoing a 24/7 audit, as the merchandise is randomly purchased online. It requires your employees to find the item quickly and ship it. When an employee cancels an order—it’s because the item is missing, which leads to further audits or more training.
Part of the success of a push strategy is the channel distribution that you choose. You’ll pay a premium for the most seen channels, like eBay or Amazon. To get a page one listing on Google, you’ll need either a real-time push to product listing ads or a budget for daily spend on keywords. The key of eCommerce inventory turnover, so Omni listing in multiple channels will deliver more liquidity.
If online is your focus and you plan on wrapping, packing, and shipping all your orders—push may be sufficient. But unlike a typical retailer, a push strategy may fall short for pawnbrokers. The reality is that customers don’t enjoy driving around and searching pawnshops high and low for the exact drill, TV, ring, or handbag like they used to. Consumers don’t have time because eCommerce has made shopping so accessible and convenient.
A consumer would instead look up an item online, see that it’s available in a store, and drive to that store for the sole purpose of picking the item up in-store. This is where a pull strategy becomes critical.
What is a Pull Strategy?
Because most of the items for sale in your store are unique, i.e., you’re not carrying excess stock, a pull strategy helps drive customers to both your online and brick-and-mortar store. In fact, a pull strategy works for products that replenish quickly and products with uncertain demand. Bingo.
The most surprising fact to pawnbrokers about selling on a company-branded site, or Buya, is that it significantly increases in-store traffic. Selling online gives your store the potential to attract a wide customer base. But it isn’t as easy as simply listing an item for sale. A pull strategy contemplates pulling the customers to your product.
A pull strategy guides customers to your items. This can be via wishlist, digital marketing campaigns with email or text, or serving product ads on Facebook or Google. This can be via wishlist, digital marketing campaigns with email or text, or serving product ads on Facebook or Google.
The reality is that you need a combination of both a pull and push strategy. As a business owner or operator, you are likely wearing many hats. Adding eCommerce expertise may not be particularly exciting to you. There are solutions on the market that accommodate both while keeping a synced inventory and causing minimal business disruption.
The best way to initiate a push + pull eCommerce strategy is to lean into technology. There are hundreds of tools on the market that make it simpler for you. If you can find a natively built solution for your point of sale, things become infinitely easier.
When you’re looking at solutions on the market, look for:
Time to Create Listings
This includes everything that is in the listing. Think beyond just the description, pricing, shipping, and purchasing terms. The listing should also be categorized or mapped to the correct category. If you are listing in multiple channels, you’ll need to make sure the taxonomy is correct for Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook, etc. Bravo knows the taxonomy and category requirements for all of the Omni channels, so you’ll never have to select from a category drop-down on every single listing.
Photos or Item Images
How simple is it for you to take pictures of each item, and what kind of image quality are you presenting on the web? Camera phones provide high-quality images for 98% of your inventory. The faster you can snap the photo and upload it to the listing, the better. Shopkeeper is an awesome tool that allows you to scan the barcode, capture the image, and the photo automatically syncs to all of your online listings. Click here to read our article “4 Tips for Taking Professional Product Photos with a Smart Phone!” to learn more about taking great product photos.
The last thing you want to do as an operator is accidentally selling the same item twice. As a pawnbroker or niche retailer, you likely only have one of that exact item in inventory. The syncing of your in-store and online inventory is essential. You want to look for omnichannel solutions that automatically remove items from online channels if the item sells in-store.
Ecommerce loses its potential when you’re managing multiple sets of inventories or holding your “eBay inventory” in the back room where in-store shoppers can’t browse it. With the Bravo Pawn Platform, your inventory can be for sale in 5 different channels, including Buya, eBay, your company-branded site, in-store, and UsedGuns.com.
As an online shopper, nothing is worse than wondering if your item has been shipped and waiting on the tracking information. Look for a tool that automatically communicates with the customer about their offer, order, shipping, etc. Bravo automatically keeps your customers in the loop, so you don’t have to worry about your customer waiting on valuable information and updates.
The dreaded return is the #1 reason why small businesses don’t implement an online strategy. As masters of used goods, taking in returns should be a specialty. You want software that doesn’t require a huge amount of overhead to bring the item back into the system. With Bravo, you scan, relocate to the floor, and voila.
Most eCommerce sites own your customer. This means that when you ship the item to the customer, you lose visibility into who that customer is. This is detrimental to your business because you lose the ability to re-market to them. With Buya, customer ownership is shared, which means you can re-market to your online customers to increase repeat business.
Product Listing Ads
The critical part of selling online is making sure your item is seen in front of both online eyes AND local eyes. Bravo is integrated with Google’s product listing ads. This means that you get your own merchant account that is geolocated to your address as soon as you become a Buya customer.
As you list items, the items appear on Google in real-time. When a customer is shopping for that exact Dewalt Drill, your item will appear at the top of the page. Buya drives in-store traffic, which gives you the opportunity to buy, sell, and trade with a local customer.
Small business owners are required to wear more hats than ever before, and the number of hours in a day isn’t increasing. This means efficiency is more important than ever. Yes, both a push and pull strategy will indeed help your business tremendously. Find a platform that does it all for you so that you can spend precious time in front of your customers and leading your company.
About the Author:
Before taking the reins as CEO, Tally served as Bravo’s Vice President of Business Development, leading the company’s sales and marketing organization. She’s been instrumental in leading and executing many of the company’s strategic shifts, including the acquisition of CompuPawn and the recent launch of UsedGuns.com.
Tally earned her Doctorate of Law (J.D.) from DePaul University College of Law in 2013 after attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she earned her B.A. in Communication Studies. She also completed the Key Executives Program from Harvard Business School in 2013.
Tally is a pawnshop lover and eCommerce enthusiast—dedicated to the success of both her employees and customers!