Members only Follow Us:

Using The Internet To Your Advantage

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Know you should be using the Internet to your business advantage, but haven't yet done so? Tom Ungrodt, president/CEO of Michigan-based Ideation, Inc. gift catalog company, urges small retailers to employ a multichannel approach that includes a brick and mortar operation, marketing and a Web presence. Read on to get his perspective on independents and the Internet:

I think small retailers must view the Internet as a necessity for the future of their businesses. Far too many mom-and-pops say, "I'll deal with it later." Start with the basics and work your way up from there. Allocate time each week to learn about the Internet. Or call your 12-year-old niece or nephew—they'll tell you how the Internet works! Be online researching and looking at vendors and competitors.

Right now you need name recognition and branding of your store through a website. [At minimum], have a basic store website that lists hours of operation and what your store has to offer. You can have a site up and running in a few weeks at a low cost. Find a college student who wants a side project. Later, you might add merchandise. Decide what lines to sell, what image you want for your online store and how you'll merchandise your products on the web.

Remember that a lot of product store owners sell is not applicable to Internet sales—and that it will take a year or more to see benefits from your online activities. I'm a firm believer that you can have a successful operation today if you build these three elements: marketing, a brick-and-mortar store and Web activity.

Sign Up for
Joyce Washnik's
Top Tips & Picks
a FREE alert featuring retail tips & fave product picks

Categories we're tracking
In This Month's

  • Summer/Seasonal
  • Message Gifts
  • Stationery Accessories
  • Non-Jar Candles
  • T-shirts
  • Fashion Accessories
  • Reorders
  • Personal Care

While coloring books and related products were all the rage in Stationery Accessories last year, this year it's back to basics: note cards, journals and planners.

* Every month Giftbeat tracks sales in a a variety of product categories (more than 50 categories throughout the year). SIGN UP NOW to receive this vital information on which gift items are moving off store shelves.