In past articles, I covered how to identify and market yourself to your target audience. Marketing is the outreach portion of your business, where you let people know that you have a product or service to offer. Once you acquire a customer, you then have to make good on your offer. Today, we will look at factors to consider when deciding between an online or brick store (or having both).
From the standpoint of a startup business, going online first could be a great money saver. You are only paying for a web hosting service, not monthly rent on a physical store. You will also be able to control your store rather easily. From website updates, sales promotions, marketing ideas, to selling advertisements on your site, all of this can be done without you worrying about another person’s salary yet. Your company will be allowed to grow while you’re able to control spending.
When you’re selling third-party products from an online portal, you will save money related to inventory and shipping costs, in that the third party can send items directly to your customer without you ever having to touch the product.
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If you don’t know how to do web design, you’re going to have to hire a contractor to create your website. You will need someone to manage the website and make any changes for you if you don’t have expertise in managing the back-end infrastructure.
Customers are not going to be able to actually physically touch your product to make sure it’s what they want. So they will be going off word-of-mouth and the images you post. This could create a chance of seeing a high return rate on your products. So your job is to make sure they have the best feeling before they buy a product (and to ensure that the final delivery matches expectations). Multiple images of the product and customer feedback embedded beside the images improve the buying experience.
If you decide to open a physical store, your company should already be generating some decent sustainable income. Otherwise, you will always be asking “where will the rent for the space come from?” Where will the utility bills come from? Who will be paying to have the building maintained and insured? All of these expenses hit you in the face on day 1. Secondly, now you need all your products to be on the shelves, who’s doing that you?, well if you have time I guess you could do that or you might be looking at hiring a sales person to run the floor and register, well there some more cash out of your pocket, the store is not even open yet and you have already started this much debt.
You will see your customer in person and be able to talk with them. This enables you to give your customer that “sales feel” – a feeling that they need this product. This is a huge asset compared to being solely online. You now have the products on the shelves so your customers can see, and make sure they like, what they are buying. This helps keep your sales higher and with a lower return rate than when selling online. You are going to have some great window exposure for your store. You can place sales items in your window display to lure in the customers. You will also have more presence in the local area.
However, as I mentioned above, you can also figure out a way to do both online and brick stores. If you decide to open the brick store, you want to get a social media presence allowing you to interact with visitors and garner feedback from across the globe. Run the same sales online as you run in your store. This allows you to get more potential customers from both sources.
Now make your dreams come true and be your own boss.
Joshua Kelly is a 13-year United States Navy Veteran. Joshua holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Science and Math. Along with several military decorations, Joshua was certified as a Community College of the Air Force Instructor. Joshua is currently self-employed with Dakota Weather Consultants.
“I am passionate about the military way of life and also the self-employed way of the future, and of course, the weather. You will find me, every day, running my weather consulting firm when I am not spending time with my family. I enjoy sharing information by writing to help others prepare themselves and learn from my experiences”. Joshua Kelly