Does your retail firearms business have a website? You know, an online home for your FFL where you can promote your business, share news and events, and even sell firearms and firearm accessories. If not, you’re not alone.
According to a recent Digital.com survey, nearly one in four (23%) small retail businesses does not have a website, with one-third (32%) believing they’ve never needed one. Administered to 1,250 U.S. brick-and-mortar small retail businesses – defined as having less than 500 employees – in May 2021, the report follows a pandemic year in which business exits were 25% above average and online retail grew 5.5% (from 2019) as businesses across the country shut down or closed their doors while consumers, forced to stay home, continued to shop online.
Post-pandemic, retail locations have become increasingly dispensable as consumers increasingly rely on eCommerce. The question is no longer whether you need a website, but rather will your business survive without one.
There are many steps to taking your business online, but don’t let the process intimidate you. Here are some considerations for creating a website for your retail FFL.
While many businesses have replaced their physical storefronts with online webstores, creating a website does not have to cannibalize your brick-and-mortar business. Whether selling firearms, gift cards or range memberships online, your website should be viewed as a complement to in-store sales rather than as competition.
Once an eCommerce platform and merchant processor are selected, FFLs can sell as little or as much as they want to online, enabling retailers to sell brands and products that are sold out or not carried in store, or simply process transactions quicker and from anywhere. And with little to no storage costs, your retail business can generate more revenue for less, all while supplementing in-person sales.
As a retail FFL, your business is driven by consumer sales. And just like your brick-and-mortar store, your website should be designed to serve your customers. Customer-centric website design is the process of developing a website around the needs, wants and behaviors of your customers.
An effective customer-centric website directs users to information or products they want to find or learn more about in a simple, easy to navigate and well-designed manner. This usually means leading with benefits rather than features, such as how a firearms training class can boost confidence when shooting rather than the gear required to participate, and addressing frequently asked questions. Your customers may not always be right, but their feedback is important to understanding how your site should be designed to best serve them.
Look At The Data
For those without computer science degrees or ample free time to watch YouTube tutorials, websites can be very technical. However, if you’re going to understand anything, learn how to use your website’s data to your advantage.
Like social media, where post performance can be judged by various metrics, website data can provide invaluable information to how your site is being found and used. Tools like Google Analytics can track website users and their interaction with your site, including how they found your website, what device they’re using, pages they’ve viewed and how long they stay. You can then analyze this data to understand customer profile, user flow and popular pages to make appropriate SEO changes and create new content.
Grow Your Business
Selling firearms is a competitive business with low margins, but for those who can find success, there’s always a need to keep growing. A website can help you do just that – especially if there’s local competition.
With stocked eCommerce, attractive design and SEO best practices, a website can be the difference maker in growing your FFL business, generating brand awareness, driving new foot traffic and creating repeat sales. It can also be a source of information for existing customers and members to reference for training schedules, events and other resources.
The firearms industry may be “old school,” but the old ways of doing business are declining, and so are the number of retail FFLs. Now is the time to stake your claim of the online marketplace and take your business online with a custom website.