Starting an Online Business or a Physical Business, or Both?

Starting an Online Business or a Physical Business, or Both?

Is starting an Online Business or a Physical Business a viable option for prospective business owners today? I suggest business owners and business starters should do both, and then do business in an omnichannel environment. For your customer’s sake…

Well, if you’re not starting your online business by now, you are either busy liquidating your physical business, or starting an online business from scratch. Or, maybe if you have a pure online business, and you are very frustrated because your customers are using your site only to do “window shopping”. Sadly, only to buy the products at their local retail store.

These are the realities of now.

About 30 years ago, when you told your family and friends that you’re going to start a new business, they would think about you opening a retail shop, or hire office space for a services business…

However, nowadays many people may first think that you’re opening an online business. And that is no coincidence. Many suburban shopping centres and office buildings has closed completely or has an oversupply of vacant spaces.

What we’re experiencing now, the empty spaces, is the result of an ongoing (digital) disruption in the retail and services markets. And just to add momentum to disruption, covid-19 appeared…

But, as usual, many opportunities became available out of the ashes of the physical business meltdown. Also, opportunities for pure play retail business to get a physical store.

Indeed, if you’re an astute entrepreneur, you may decide its now is the time to start your retail shop or rent offices for your services business. After all, you can now handpick your location and bargain a good deal with the rent…

Starting an online business or starting a physical business

So, is there a difference in starting an online business or starting a physical business? Well, it’s about as different as if you take an aeroplane or a car to get at your destination.  At the end of day whether you fly or drive, you still want reach the same destination.

After all of this, whether you want to start an online business, or a physical business, you only want paying customers to buy your products or services.

Let’s assume you’re going for an online business…

How does an online business operate?

An online business is one that carries out its services entirely online and gets its revenue from selling products and services that are either digital or shipped to the customer’s home, according to Go Site Builder.

 Furthermore:

  • An online business is always open. It doesn’t have fixed shopping or business hours. Indeed, the customers of an online business can have access to the business 24/7;
  • The start-up cost of an online business is not that much. It requires some capital, for a domain name, website, and hosting service. More expensive however is the online marketing costs…
  • It mostly takes longer to gain people’s trust with an online business. So, you need to stand out between millions of competitors. Therefore, you’ll need to have good, fresh content and be present on all the major social media platforms. If so, then your business will become part of the sought-after online narratives.
  • An online business has the potential to grow fast. Indeed, with billions of prospective customers, there’s not much to argue against it. However, there are millions of online businesses chasing billions of customers. And, guess what? More than ninety percent of all online business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 days, says Chris Ducker. I suppose you can compare it with a gold rush – where only a hand full of miners made some money from it. So, you need to work hard and smart to make it big with online business.

May you rather want to start a physical business?

Remember the good old days of physical businesses?

An offline business either sells physical products in a store, or services that are limited to a geographical location. Rieva Lesonsky in Small Business Trends reminds us about the happenings in a physical store…

A physical retail store is visited by customers because:

  • They can test the merchandize – customers can touch, try on or test products.
  • Customers get assisted in the store to help them making the right decision – especially for complex or major purchases such as technology or appliances.
  • By visiting your shop, customers can receive emotional gratification – many people just visit a shop to ‘get away from it all’.
  • Physical shopping seems more secure than shopping online – some customers are uneasy about sharing their payment information online.
  • A physical store encourages impulse purchases – in-store browsers are more likely to spend more than they planned.

But what about offering your customers the best of both worlds?

The Omni- Retail Channel – give your customers the best of both worlds

Welcome to the omnichannel!

Indeed, omnichannel retailing is an integrated sales experience that melds the advantages of physical stores with the information-rich experience of online shopping 1. For that reason, you need to have a physical retail place and online presence, like a website.

Then your customers can enjoy the omnichannel experience, and the best of both worlds…

Concluding

Starting an online business or a physical business today should not be the question to ask. Rather spend your time on considering how you’re going to integrate the two channel?

The omnichannel is where most of tomorrow’s business will take place Therefore you need to know which part of the omnichannel your customers enjoy the most. And even more, should offer them that experience better than your competitors can ever do.

Read also: The Value Proposition for Bricks and Clicks Retailers

Note

1 Frazer, M. and Stiehler, B.E. 2014, January. Omnichannel retailing: The merging of the online and off-line environment. In Global Conference on Business & Finance Proceedings (Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 655). Institute for Business & Finance Research.

Photo by David Gomes from Pexels

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Douw G Steyn

Douw G Steyn

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

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