Three important words to remember when opening a retail store may be location, location, location, but opening a virtual storefront on the Internet has its own special rules. Unlike brick-and-mortar shopkeepers, Web store owners can't rely on neighborhood fliers or mailbox circulars to bring customers to their stores. They also can't rely on the store's physical location, a pedestrian-heavy boulevard or even air conditioning on a hot day to lure people inside. Instead, Web shopkeepers are faced with the grim reality of publicizing their stores in a medium that is cluttered and difficult to navigate.
But there's good news. If you're an online retailer, you can utilize search engines--similar to neighborhood Yellow Pages--that allow Internet shoppers to type in a keyword and match it to your product offerings. As e-commerce and the comfort level with online shopping grow, search engines are increasingly being used as store directories. Search engines also provide ways to target a highly focused audience with a sales message. While Web shops are undeniably more difficult to find than the neighborhood corner store, a directory listing is perhaps the best place to start promoting your site.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at Melisscamp@aol.com