Should you start an Online Store or open a Physical one?

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Gone are the days when physical retail stores had a monopoly on consumer preference. Consumers who once had to visit physical stores now have alternative options, mainly being, purchasing goods online. The pandemic really led to an increase in online shopping, however, this does not necessarily mean that physical stores have lost their charm.

This article serves to weigh the pros and cons of each type of store setup, so you can make a more informed decision regarding both types of stores.

Physical Stores

Undoubtedly, online shopping has seen a massive increase since the pandemic hit and people were forced into the confines of their own homes. However, as circumstances get back to normal (as normal as they can be), people will start gathering in malls again and as a result, shop in physical stores.

Below are just some of the advantages a physical store offers:

  1. Customers want to see the products: This essentially means, albeit not all the time, the customers want to physically see the product before buying it, whether it be clothing or other products.
  2. The difficulty of selling certain products online: There are certain products that for their price or special nature seem impossible to sell online. Whether it be expensive jewelry or other such products.
  3. Customer loyalty: Costco is a great example of customer loyalty. The majority of their customers tend to shop in the actual physical store as opposed to shopping online.
  4. No shipping costs: Unlike online shopping, there are no shipping costs when it comes to buying products from a physical store.
  5. No delays/waiting: With online shopping, there is always some amount of waiting time involved. Be it a few hours to weeks or sometimes months. However, with physical stores, you instantly get the product you buy right after you paid for it.
  6. Visibility: Although online stores have higher visibility rates, it still takes time for them to achieve it. However, physical stores can achieve immediate visibility especially with great locations with high foot traffic.

Disadvantages

  1. Costs: The cost of opening a physical store is higher than having an online store. This is perhaps the main factor that you need to take into consideration when contemplating whether a physical store would suit your needs or an online store!
  2. Unforeseen reasons: Situations like the pandemic or other scenarios can severely affect your sales if you run a physical store.

Online Stores

Having an online store has its own advantages. To some extent, the disadvantages of a physical store can turn into advantages for online stores.

Advantages

  1. Costs: Opening an online store does not come with a huge cost when compared to physical stores. Costs such as rent, utilities, etc. are drastically reduced.
  2. Unforeseen reasons: Unlike physical stores, situations like the pandemic have very few adverse effects on online stores.
  3. Visibility: Although it may take a while for your online store to gain visibility, however, unlike physical stores, online stores can gain worldwide visibility, which some physical stores do not get to enjoy unless they advertise their physical stores online too.
  4. New customers: Since online stores help you reach worldwide, your store gains new customers from all walks of life, not just the ones located or visiting your city/area.
  5. No strict schedules: Unlike physical stores that need to open and close at predetermined times, online stores can remain open indefinitely and on an as-needed basis only (when there are client orders or general inquiries).
  6. More sales: As online stores are accessible to everyone, the likelihood of your sales increasing is considerably higher than compared with physical stores.

Disadvantages

  1. Delays: The main issue with buying products online is a delay. Be it for a few hours or for days, weeks, or sometimes even months; delays are bound to occur.
  2. Lack of a personal touch: Unlike physical stores where you can provide a personal touch to your customers, that is not the case with online stores. Although you may be able to reply to customer queries and reviews, it is not the same as physical stores.
  3. Reviews can make or break your store’s reputations: Although this sometimes applies to physical stores as well, however, with the difficulty in exchanging or returning products, one bad review regarding your product may drive away customers from your store.

Conclusion

In conclusion, weighing your options before you open a store is great. However, this does not mean you’re left with the choice of opening either an online store or a physical one; you are still free to open both.

However, if you’re stuck between the choice of opening one type of store to start your business, then it is great to weigh the pros and cons.

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