Over the past decade, it has become increasingly common for consumers to search for specific products as opposed to gravitating to a certain brand. Ecommerce has given shoppers a singularly convenient way to do just that.
But it’s also important to recognize that ecommerce makes up 16 percent of retail sales as of 2019, making it important for resale businesses to take a multichannel approach.
That being said, ecommerce functions as more than just a way for businesses to sell products online. For businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence, where the majority of transactions take place, online marketplaces are a key part of building brand recognition, marketing specific products and acquiring new customers.
Here’s a closer look at the strategy we’ve taken to build a robust ecommerce presence for multiple Winmark resale franchise brands.
Ecommerce as a Marketing Function
Tim Kletti, Brand Director for Play It Again Sports® and Music Go Round®, has played a central role in creating an ecommerce platform that is user-friendly and benefits our franchisees and their individual locations.
“Our priority behind an ecommerce strategy is that it’s a marketing platform for our franchisees,” explained Tim. “We want to be able to capture and get in front of audiences wherever they are and drive them into our stores as much as possible.”
Once customers are in our stores, they’re able to take advantage of the buy-and-sell feature of our resale business concept by which they can bring in their quality used products and earn cash on the spot and, at the same time, purchase products at up 90 percent off the standard retail cost.
Expanding some of our brands into ecommerce also benefits our franchisees by creating brand visibility, increasing in-store traffic, bolstering search engine optimization with unique content pages and adding another revenue channel for individual stores.
Play It Again Sports, Music Go Round and most recently, Style Encore® represent three of the five Winmark resale franchise brands that have expanded into ecommerce over the past ten years.
When we decided to invest in ecommerce, we started off with Music Go Round. Once we saw the success that brand had created, we followed with Play It Again Sports. Like Music Go Round, Play It Again Sports has ecommerce-friendly products that are also easily shippable and can be sold at a price point that provides a return on investment for franchisees. In the spring of 2020, we launched an ecommerce platform with Style Encore for the same reasons.
Each of these brands is great for an ecommerce platform due to their unique product offerings and price points.
Making Ecommerce Stress-Free for Our Franchisees
One of the biggest potential hiccups with adding ecommerce to your business concept is keeping your product catalog up to date. Unlike big brand stores that have more than one of every product on hand and can provide the same product catalog every day, resale business concepts sell items that are both unique and constantly changing – making manually updating their product catalog daily a task that, although important, can potentially take a lot of time.
“It’s not a set-it-and-leave-it situation,” said Tim. “You have an administration of products constantly changing – with both what you’re selling and what you’re buying.”
We recognized that manually updating your ecommerce site can become a draining task, so we created a centralized system that syncs with franchisees’ point-of-sale systems and automatically updates their online catalogs.
After the new products are uploaded into the catalog, franchisees then have the opportunity to select which items they are willing to ship or sell in-store. They’re also able to add images and product descriptions that help the specific items show up in search engines like Google or Bing.
“The more quality connections you make and sessions you have, the greater your chances of turning those sessions into transactions,” said Tim. “Not only should you be publishing as much as you can, but also making sure the content is good and has high-quality descriptions and photos.”
The Customer’s Search for Just the Right Product
Our ecommerce platform is also convenient for customers – instead of having to jump from site to site in search of different products, customers have the ability to shop all stores at the same time and put them all into the same shopping cart.
When they go to checkout, each purchase is attributed directly to its respective store, making it easy for our franchisees to keep track of their products and purchases.
A Differentiated, Omni-channel Business Model
For any resale business concept, it can be daunting to launch an ecommerce storefront. However, we have been deliberate and diligent in developing a strategic approach to online shopping and successfully entering the ecommerce space in a way that is both efficient for the customer and the franchisee, but also adds another avenue of profitability for the individual store.
Investing in ecommerce means having a full understanding of both the profitability and loss potential of products you’re selling and buying – and recognizing that it needs constant monitoring and optimization so your customers have a seamless online shopping experience.
Learn more about the competitive differentiators of our franchise brands by downloading a free franchise report here.