From Brick & Mortar to Online. How Many Products Should I Sell Online at First?

This is a question I think gets asked a lot. And in an earlier podcast we did, I asked Jonathan Martin from Cool Blue Web this.

What do you say when a client says, We want to take our store online, Jonathan, and get all 2500 of our products ready to sell when we launch.

Jonathan’s Response:

We focus on an MVP approach when it comes to development, which means a minimum viable product. Our goal is to get sites launched as soon as possible and then begin refining and adding products to them. A lot of our customers want to wait until they feel that everything is absolutely perfect and they have every single bell and whistle and every single product in their store on there,  when in reality once they do all that work, they gain a lot of experience, because now they’re actually online and, “Wait a minute, we made a bunch of bad choices, or maybe we really don’t want this product online.” I really think stores should just get started. They should open up a store and if they start with ten products and they slowly add to those, with 2,490 more products on over time, I think that’s the right approach. I think the other big challenge that a lot of small brick-and-mortar stores have is photography and product data.

Are you going to use the manufacturer-supplied image or are you going to take your own shots? What are you going to do to differentiate yourself from that product being sold somewhere else on the internet? I think that there’s a lot of time that can be invested into that and should be, but I don’t think you should let that time be a barrier to getting up and running as quick as you can. If you only have 100 of your products that have photos, get those 100 up, get them up as quick as you can, and see if you can sell some. Gain that experience of actually running a store, and you may change the way you take your photos, you may change the way you write your descriptions, you may change all kinds of different stuff. You may decide, “Great. We only want to showcase these ten products that are selling.” I think that the most important thing to do is get up there as quick as you possibly can.

As soon as you’re online and making sales, you’re going to learn so much more if you’re new to the game, that you’re going to make your decisions totally different going forward.

People worry that a customer is going to come to my site in April when I launch and I don’t have all my products there and then they’re going to go, “Oh, they don’t have anything,” and they’re going to never come back. “I’d rather wait until June until I have everything in there.” Well, here’s the truth of it. That customer is looking for something in April. If they didn’t find your site, they found somebody else’s site and now maybe they fell in love with that site, and they’re never going to go to you anyway. The goal is to get up as quick as you possibly can. Maybe you say, “Hey, this is 10% of our inventory. We’re working on getting more in there.” Give them some kind of, “Oh wait, maybe I should come back more often to check.” Or give them some discount. Say, “Hey, while we’re adding more inventory to our store, we want you to come back. Here’s a coupon for June once we have all our inventory in there.”

You can listen to the full podcast.