OFFLINE VS ONLINE: WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
Shopping habits changed so rapidly in 2020 that thousands of businesses were caught unprepared.
A lot of companies and brands decided to take the leap and enter the e-commerce sector, while many others found themselves unable to adapt to the new consumer demands without the correct infrastructure in place.
One of the main consequences is that many shoppers are being let down by online orders since the pandemic began. So, if you are considering starting a business, you might have to decide to launch an e-commerce site, to open a physical store, or both.
Taking the e-commerce route has great advantages:
First of all, opening an online stores does not present the same entry barriers as a traditional brick-and-mortar. The large initial investments that traditional retail implies can be avoided avoidable on a business does not require the same large investments of a traditional store.
One of the first benefits of e-commerce is that it allows your business to target a global market. This means giving your business access to a potential client base that is enormously larger than the one you could have with a physical store.
According to Statista, e-retailer revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion USD in 2021, which demonstrate that the large number of customers prefers to shop from their comfort zones.
How can you make sure to target the proper segment of users for your business?
1. Know your customers: make use of your exeprience as a customer to sketch out a list of consumer profiles that could be interested to your product. Test such profiles by keeping an eye on analitics and invest only on those more tuned with your products.
2. Do not underestimate SEO: optimizing your e-commerce to make it browser-friendly does not require huge budgets nor big teams.
3. Design your content strategy around your customer preferences and needs rather than around your product. This helps online stores to save time and efforts, and reach potential customers more effectively.
E-commerce also means that the distance between seller and buyer no longer exists, and that you can directly sell to the customer. Those who buy online expect the purchased product to be delivered as quickly as possible.
Warehouse management will therefore use a large part of the resources of your online business, both in terms of commitment and costs. Consequently, in e-commerce the timing of transactions and warehouse management are enormously reduced compared to a traditional shop, and the return is almost immediate.
Online retailers also have to create their own e-commerce structures according to what consumers expect from such channels, such as:
1. Transactions carried out 24/7, even on holidays
2. Ease of finding products and price matching online businesses and products
3. No stress in the delivery process
What about traditional shops then?
Despite all this, e-commerce growth is still expected to decelerate worldwide this year, partially because of the rebound brick-and-mortar shops. There is still a large segment of customers that prefers to have in-store shopping experiences. These are the top 4 reasons:
1. Experiencing the product: customers want to have a deeper understanding of the products before making the purchase.
2. Expert advice: shopping assistants are also perceived to have a keen eye on the products they sell.
3. Immediate availability of the product
4. No return required
Brick-and-mortar retail sales will rebound from a 3.2% decline in 2020 to a 1.6% gain in 2021. This will be the case for brick-and-mortar shops willing to implement digitally-enabled technologies such as: click and collect, cashier-less checkout, contactless payment, and digital signage.