The Advantages of an Online Store for a Business OwnerApril 12, 2014 - Holly Cardew
Have you ever thought about opening a store? If the answer is yes, think about this question:
Should you open an online store or a physical store?
Both can work, but there are many advantages of an online store — and these advantages can be the making of your business. Check out these reasons why you should seriously consider selling in cyberspace.
1. Reduce risk by cutting costs from the get-go
One of the biggest advantages of an online store versus a physical store is that you can cut your overhead costs by more than half.
A physical store will require a big investment to design and set up the storefront alone. On a monthly basis you will also have to pay for electricity, salaries and rent. It takes a big financial commitment to set up a physical store, not to mention you have to come up with a big stock of inventory to fill up your space.
The only costs you will encounter for an online shop is paying for your stock, as well as your website and its maintenance. If you are starting out, you can do it all yourself and you don’t need to hire staff because everything can be automated via your website. There are even free eCommerce platforms where you can set up and make your own website to cut costs of hiring an IT person to make and run your website. Take a look at TicTail and Storenvy for platforms that provide free stores. I also came across Jimdo yesterday!
2. Reach many more customers… much more easily
Thanks to the power of the internet, you can reach so many people at one time.
When you have a storefront or physical store, you have to wait for people to walk by and come into your shop for you to make a sale. So much time is wasted while you are waiting for people to come in and shop from you. Even on days when you have no sales, your overhead costs will still be running.
Online stores coupled with social media can create magic. When you use social media to your advantage, you can reach more customers and make more potential sales at minimal cost. You can even get specific with your target markets or grow a broader market and offer your products to more potential customers.
There are more people who use the internet every day than those who have time to go out to malls to shop. With a physical store you only sell to customers near your area. With an online shop, you can reach a wider local market… even up to an international market.
3. Make shopping easy and convenient for your customers (you’re open 24/7!)
A lot of people these days get so busy with their everyday lives that going to the mall to look for a certain outfit or product has become a daunting task.
Online shops make shopping extremely convenient for consumers. They save customers a lot of time and money. And what is great about having an online shop is that you can be open 24/7 so you can maximize your time to sell products. Even if you are asleep, you can still make a sale if you have an online shop as long as your website is running and set up properly.
When you have a storefront or physical store you can only sell and make money during store hours. A lot of time that could be converted into sales will be lost.
4. Save on your marketing budget
There are a lot of things you can save on when you have an online shop versus a physical store. For example, you can cut the costs of printing posters and making flyers. Having posters and flyers is crucial for your physical store if you are in, say, a mall.
One of the advantages of an online store is there are no printing costs and you can put your ‘posters’ all over your social media sites. Social media gives you a wider reach to potential customers and you can use this to your advantage by investing in your social media sites.
It is important to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. These social media sites are good places for you to reach and connect with existing and potential customers. They’re also good places to let customers know about your promotions and sales.
Creating a blog for your online shop is a good place to post your customer reviews and testimonials. Your blog is also where you should post your behind-the-scenes photos to let your customers connect with your brand and become part of what you are creating. It is also a fun idea to show ‘teasers’ on products you will be releasing soon to see customer feedback and reactions.
There are some companies like Shoyoroll who have created such strong brand loyalty and customer trust that they can sell products not yet in stock. This is called pre-ordering or pre-selling. When your customer pre-orders a product from you, that is already considered a guaranteed sale on your part and you cut the risk of having stock that won’t sell or that might take some time to move and be sold.
Consider taking the plunge
If you’re still on the fence about starting a store, you’ll want to take a serious look at creating an online store.
The risks can be minimal, and who knows — your online store could succeed beyond anything you’ve ever dreamed of. You don’t have to pound away for months opening a physical store; a storefront in cyberspace might be just what you need.