A note about our online store...
Thank you for stopping by!
Having been in business for nearing 9 years, I have learned a lot of things over that time. Most of the lessons that I have learned came from trying something new and each of those steps and missteps has had an impact on all aspects of the store. One goal I have always had was to launch an online storefront to complement our brick and mortar beginnings. A big undertaking, but I felt that getting the store online in order to showcase what we have in stock would give the store greater visibility in our changing market, allow our current loyal customers who move away to still shop with us, and maybe gain a few new friends from around the country along the way,
Knowing the work that was required to put thousands of products online, I decided to open the online store with less than 10% of the products that we stock and then as new products came in and we had the time to get to old products, the website would slowly grow. I put a bunch of random sale clothes on there and after a few months, we still have less than a quarter of our products able to be sold online. Each day, new products are added, but it is a VERY slow process for us considering the amount of products that need updated.
When the store went live, I put a disclaimer on the front shopping page stating that this is a small sample of our current inventory and many brands had not made it up and to stop by to see everything. We kept working, growing the online store, and noticed that our hits on the site were nearing double what they used to be. In the past, an influx on our site would directly translate to more new people into the store. Having 8+ years of data, I noticed that the percentage of new customers in the store vs. the number of hits on the site from this area was way down. I understand there could be multiple reasons for this and it being a new site, I just let it run in hopes it would play itself out, but it didn't. I had all sorts of theories, but ultimately, I decided to keep plugging away not knowing what was causing the trend. That is until I had a conversation this morning with Heather, a Freshman at OSU who met our shop online yesterday.
When Heather walked through the door, she looked really surprised. I asked if there was anything I could help her find and she said, "I want a shirt I saw on your website but I thought this was going to be a really small little shop." I asked why she would think that, and she replied with, "You don't have any of this stuff on your website." I told her that we had been working on the site but it is a long process and that our core business is and always will be in the store. As I was explaining to her, it hit me. She just gave me some insight on why our numbers were off. Some of the new people finding us online think the small selection of mismatched new/sale products on our website represents what is in stock at the store. I asked if she saw the note on the front shopping page mentioning that this was a small representation of our products and she said "No, she just wanted to see what women's clothes we had." I asked how she did that and she said that she Googled Outdoor Stores Columbus, clicked our page, saw the shop link, hit that, saw women's apparel, hit that, found a shirt and that was the extent of her poking around the site and all she knew about the store. I'm glad our website is easy to navigate, but she didn't see our story, the pictures of our store, get a feel for what we had. Unfortunately it seems that our website wasn't doing the store much good as people were unable to really understand our shop or our products in it's current form, possibly sometimes even discouraging people from coming into the shop. Yet another lesson learned.
So, until I can figure out how to get everything online, or make it easier for people to understand that our online shop doesn't represent the entirety of what products we stock, it is going offline. It will be back, but in the meantime, we are stocking up for the holidays and the inevitable change of temperature outside, so please come down to the store to say hello and see all of the great new products and brands that we do have in stock. Thank you again for supporting your local outdoor shop!