Starting a new business and developing a customer base, as well as getting them to trust your brand, is exhausting, expensive, and not always successful. The alternative is buying an existing online business or store and rebranding it. With that in mind, here are a few guidelines for taking on an existing business and keeping current customers happy as well as attracting new ones.
Before you Buy
Take a good look at the company you’re considering buying – are they selling because they aren’t making money? If so, do you have a business plan in place that is guaranteed to make money on the same platform? Are they selling or closing down because of some sort of scandal? If so, it may not be wise to take over, especially if you plan to keep the brand name. Most customers aren’t likely to return to a business that’s burned them before, whether it’s under new management or not.
What are you buying?
Exchange by Shopify sells online stores as they are. Buy it and continue running it as it is, or make a few changes. Things to take into account are: are you buying the site, and having to restock yourself? Will you be able to source the stock already on offer? Or are they selling you the store as well as any current stock? One clear advantage is that, should your venture go south, you can resell on the same platform for, hopefully, minimal if any loss.
If you’re buying a domain name, you’ll be starting from scratch – creating your own web page, building a customer base and stocking your store from the ground up. You’ll also have to start from scratch on any inbound marketing or search engine marketing efforts.
If you’re taking over and rebranding an existing business that already has a respectable following, try not to change it completely overnight and risk chasing away existing customers. Advertise any changes as ‘updates’ or ‘upgrades,’ or announce that the store is getting a facelift with new stock and new features.
Language has an incredibly powerful effect when it comes to marketing. Phrasing things right will assure and encourage old customers as well as attract new ones.
Be sure you’ll have the time to manage a new business. The advantages of an online store include the fact that you can easily automate orders and payments, and that you don’t have to have someone onsite permanently, or keep to standard business hours. But you will still have to be in touch with your business wherever you are, keeping an eye on sales, statistics, advertising, and other key metrics.
Another thing you will need to determine is if you will be able to run the store as an individual, or if it is more feasible to employ one or two people to help you manage it. Comments, reviews, emails, and requests from customers will all have to be dealt with properly and promptly – keeping clients happy is key to any venture.
Lastly, know what you’re signing up for. The customer is always right, even when they’re not. You have to be prepared to deal with unsatisfied customers, complaints, returns, exchanges, refunds and every other hassle that comes with sales.If you are prepared for all of this, there is no doubt that you will be able to successfully buy and rebrand and ecommerce store and make it a profitable venture for yourself for years to come.