You are looking to open a new store and are trying to decide whether to launch an online or a brick-and-mortar storefront. E-commerce trends are saying online sales will grow by 10 percent from 2017 to 2018 alone, but a 2017 study stated that most shoppers still prefer to visit a physical storefront. There are several points you will need to consider when making your decision.
What Are You Selling?
This is the No. 1 question you need to address. People are more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if they are purchasing a vehicle, washing machine, diamonds, etc. However, if they are looking for a book or a gift, they tend to visit a website. How much variety will you have? If you are a specific retailer with only a few different products, a brick-and-mortar store will be a good option. But if you plan to sell a plethora of items, it might be easier for customers to find what they want in an online platform.
Are You Prepared for the Overhead of a Physical Location?
Brick-and-mortar storefronts have considerably higher overhead costs. You must pay for the rent or purchase price, staff, point-of-sale systems and equipment, indoor and outdoor product display equipment, signage and sale banners, utility costs, inventory storage, etc. An online storefront only requires the monthly web hosting fee and technical support, domain name registration, fees for online transactions, inventory storage, and shipping costs. You might be able to manage the site yourself and save on staffing costs.
Customer Experience Is King
The No. 1 reason people prefer to shop in a physical store is so they can touch and test what they are purchasing. Store staff should be thoroughly trained to take advantage of this and help the customers touch, test, and purchase as much as they can. A physical location can offer the best of both worlds when paired with your online store, allowing customers to touch and test and then order from their smartphones.
On the other hand, a KPMG survey found people like to shop online because it’s available 24/7, they can compare prices, they don’t want to drive to the physical store location, and they save time by not doing so. Could you combat some of these preferences by changing how your brick-and-mortar store operates?
Online stores are a dime a dozen, whereas there is a limited amount of brick-and-mortar stores available. Is your product unique enough to stand out in the online venue, or would a brick-and-mortar storefront be worth the extra cost to have more exposure? Then again, if you can get the word out, the potential for customers online extends worldwide, while physical store locations are limited to the traffic in the area.
Only you can decide what kind of retail space will work for your business. Weighing the list of pros and cons of a brick-and-mortar store versus an online store will help you make the best decision possible.
Image via Flickr by MadFishDigital