While the hype behind e-commerce and online businesses is true, it is also overblown. Physical stores are still thriving with some expanding heavily. So which should a small business owner invest in in 2020? It depends on your businesses’ orientation, model, target market, and expertise.
Launching an e-commerce operation requires lower capital as you save on overhead costs such as store lease, on-site staff, warehousing or space for inventory, etc. It is also more accessible to the wider public giving you more sales options. Ideally, some of these “saved” costs would be invested on a solid digital marketing strategy that leverages a website, social media, and Google.
It’s not all doom and gloom for brick and mortar stores though. Research has consistently shown that customers prefer touching the product and the instant gratification factor stores offer. Further, there are some products and services that are just difficult to upsell or sell online. Finally, never underestimate the power of customer loyalty. Many users return to a business because they received good service and felt positively after their experience.
For a successful store in modern times, you will have to pick the right location taking into account factors like store surroundings and accessibility. Also, you will have to invest in the best quality store staff. They have to be more like brand ambassadors than sales people. This is because many people have done online research into the product and are better informed than before.
The contemporary trend in tech e-retail is now in fact offline stores! Amazon kicked things off in 2015 with a bookstore and since then the internet Behemoth has made $1.3 billion from in-person sales. Another popular trend is pop-up shops. These are little kiosks or test shops that are often a viral hit, spark brand awareness, and generate sales while keeping costs minimal.
So now should you invest online or offline? Both, an omnichannel sales model is how to survive in the modern day business world. An omnichannel method just means using multiple ways or mediums to make sales. So, ideally you would have both a web presence and a physical one. This will allow you to satisfy your local users while also staying on the lookout for other prospects.