An online store has many benefits. As a tour operator, it may have crossed your mind to add one to your website but where do you begin? And is it worth the time and effort?
You don’t need to be the next Amazon. Having an online store is a place for you to sell tour merchandise, clothing, pictures/photos, or something specific to your company, like Running Reindeer’s(opens in a new tab) reindeer milk soap!
Before we go any further, let’s begin with an overview.
What Is an Online Store & Its Benefits?
Online shopping is a form of e-commerce (electronic shopping) that allows customers to buy goods/services directly over the internet via a web browser or mobile device. As a tour operator, how would that help you? The biggest advantage is that an online shop will open a new revenue stream. Not only as an extra on top of your tour sales, but if things perhaps slow down for a while, it’s a good idea to have a different source of income to help give you some more financial stability.
Aside from a small % from the e-commerce platform, the sales are all yours.
Another noteworthy benefit is improved customer loyalty/retention. According to Business.com(opens in a new tab), by connecting with your customers emotionally, you may see a greater increase in customer lifetime value. Brand intimacy patterns such as fulfilment (when your brand delivers excellent customer service), identity, nostalgia, indulgence, ritual, and enhancement can contribute to a customer making an emotional connection to your company. Your shop can bridge that connection from the customer to your company with the items that you sell.
Having an online shop can increase your brand familiarity(opens in a new tab) and it can be achieved by having your logo and colours on the items you sell. Being recognisable sets your brand apart from the competition and it also helps your customers understand that you’re you. At the end of the day, you want to make your brand memorable and recognisable to your target audience!
Whatever you decide to sell on your online shop, it can also help build relationships within your local community. You could decide to include locally produced items and donate a small portion of them to local charities/organisations. This way, you can promote other local businesses and in turn, ask them to link you.
How Do I Set Up an Online Store?
Adding a commerce engine to your current site can be a fairly straightforward process. Here at Tourism Tiger, we work exclusively with WordPress and each of the below suggestions are similar. The key is picking the one you like working with the most. There are many more but here is our summary of 5 e-commerce platforms:
1. BigCommerce:(opens in a new tab) Various monthly payment options, the basic plan starts at $29.95/month, payment gateway integration, 15-day free trial, 24/7 support, and PCI-compliance security
2. Shopify:(opens in a new tab) A similar price plan to BigCommerce, $29/month basic plan, 14-day free trial, PCI-compliant, 24/7 support
3. WooCommerce:(opens in a new tab) Make the free plugin work for around $10 per month (they have additional plans offering more services), good for selling fewer items, easy to use
4. Ecwid Ecommerce Shopping Cart:(opens in a new tab) Similar to set up and use like WooCommerce but unlike them, you can integrate it on any site, not just WordPress. Free to use (unless you want a more extensive package), good for small stores
5. Cart66:(opens in a new tab) Perfect for those with a less technical background, plans from $19/month, simple to use and looks smart on the front end
What Should I Sell?
The answer should start with questioning yourself and/or your team. Think about your tour company’s target audience and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you buy if you were on your website?
Consider logistics. You may have the best ideas on what to sell but is the execution manageable? Think acquisition, storage, and shipping. And lastly, have passion for your product. Be excited about what you plan and will sell and that energy will transfer over to the customer.
In our experience with Tourism Tiger clients, branded clothing is the most popular inclusion. T-shirts, hoodies, hats etc. Other quirky items include Wild Adventures Melbourne(opens in a new tab) selling exclusive framed artwork and eco-friendly items including reusable drinking bottles and bamboo straws. And as we mentioned earlier, aside from Running Reinder’s reindeer milk soap, they also offer visitors the opportunity to adopt a reindeer—you don’t always have to sell something materialistic. The Bike Center(opens in a new tab) in Santa Monica has a straightforward approach: sell bikes!
- If sales pick up in the store, look into outsourcing order fulfilment. You have a tour business to run and you don’t want to be buying, storing, packaging, and transporting the goods to the post office!
- And keep an eye on your data. Most online store platforms will have some form of CRM/tracking ability and this data is invaluable. Don’t ignore it.
- Market it! If you have a solid social media following, don’t be afraid to entice them with a post about your products, special offers, and more.
- Follow on from it: ensure you snap some photos and videos with you and your team members wearing/using the items you sell on the shop!
If you’re a current Tourism Tiger customer, reach out to your TigerCare account manager to talk shop! And if you’re a tour operator reading this and would like professional assistance in building and integrating your online store, reach out to our sales team for a free consultation today.(opens in a new tab)