With so many people transacting online for anything from online banking to ordering a takeaway having an online presence is vital for the growth and success of your business. Whether you sell your product online or in a physical store it is something that needs to be carefully considered or is there is a way that you can fulfil both.
If you are offering a service then although you will need to be found online you won’t need to offer an online transaction service. You won’t have to make the choice between having a physical store or online store unless you are offering a product. What is the product? How often and how many do you sell? What is the market for that product? With most products there is an online market especially with the distribution channels available today. Another consideration has to be the cost of your product. If you are selling high-end luxury products then people need to be able to touch and feel them before they buy. Would people spend £5k on a product without being able to touch it and feel it first?
If you want to attract footfall you will need to have a premises on the High Street or other busy location. If you don’t have a shop that can be found then you will have to spend lots on advertising. Where will you advertise? Yes you’ve got it ……..online. If your customers are online looking for you then surely it would be a good idea to offer an online transaction service. Imagine you want to buy a kettle. You know what you want to spend roughly and you just want to choose between the quickest and the best colour. Where do you go? You probably go to Google or an online store that you are familiar with. You can’t be bothered to get in the car and drive to pick it up. Much easier to get it delivered! But hang on………..the store don’t have this option. What do you do? You go somewhere else. So the cost of a physical store becomes greater because you are losing business to online companies.
Whether or not you have a physical store you need a website to tell people that you are there. Surely adding an e-commerce function is much more cost effective than losing business to your competitors. Of course you need to evaluate the distribution channels. How will you get your products out to market? Can you keep up with the demand for postage, packaging and shipping? Would your money be better invested in focusing solely on an online store or do your products need to be touched and felt?
This needs to be a consideration when starting your business and working out how to sell your product. Will there be a demand for this product in 12 months, 2 years or 5 years? Have you checked out the competition environment? How many other companies offer this and how? Are they all online? If they are selling online then you need to be too. The only certainty is that technology will continue to improve and people will be able to do more and more online. If you aren’t offering what the masses want then you won’t achieve the full potential of your business.