Online or Offline?
Online retail is continuing to grow at an astounding rate, yet the majority of people still actually prefer to shop in-store, so there are still great opportunities for retailers to take advantage of both. Which option you choose will depend on your business, the product you sell and how you want to interact with customers
Pros of Online Retail
There are some fantastic benefits to selling online. Setting up an online store comes with significantly lower startup costs than a traditional physical store, with no need to pay for a large physical space and all of the ongoing costs that can entail. As a result, you can get started quickly, with less capital investment and start selling straight away.
Customers also appreciate the convenience of eCommerce. Being able to shop from home without direct sales pressure, and with the ability to browse in your own time can make the process much more appealing to some customers. Then having products delivered straight to their door, within a few days and even at a time to suit the customer, can be even more attractive.
Cons of Online Retail
While an online store can be quicker and simpler to set up than a physical one, not having a location can make it more costly to drive customers through to your store. You’ll have to accept that a larger marketing budget is required, compared to a bricks-and-mortar store. You’ll need to allocate more resources and time to marketing in order to let customers know you exist and are open for business.
It’s also more difficult to build meaningful interactions with your customers as there’s no face to face interaction. You’ll need to go the extra mile to give customers confidence in your store and assure them you’re a trustworthy brand.
Pros of Offline Retail
The advantages of offline retail are well cemented. It remains the most popular shopping channel for consumers and can’t currently be matched by online when it comes to customer experience. With a traditional bricks-and-mortar store, you can craft a unique experience for your customers and express your brand in a creative way.
Having an offline store also gives you instant access to passing trade, without having to invest in a marketing budget. Having a great store location can make you easily visible to your target market and can build your brand locally.
Even for an eCommerce retailer, having a physical store is a brilliant way to express a vision for your brand, sell an experience to your customers and reach new markets.
Cons of Offline Retail
Just as the pros of offline retail are well known, so are the cons when compared to eCommerce. Higher setup and running costs are very likely. Traditional stores generally have higher running costs than online retailers, with electricity, water, rent and more to pay for every month. This allows less room for error when it comes to your initial financial investment. With an offline store, you can see funding dry up very quickly if you’re not careful.
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