Pros and cons of an online store are parts of the same binomial, like two sides of a coin
With the development of the internet and computer technology, more and more entrepreneurs are considering opening their own online stores, or taking their already existing businesses online. Thus, there are two options: starting from scratch (both business and site), or creating a site as an addition to a bricks-and-mortar store. Either way, starting an online store entails both advantages and disadvantages.
On the one hand, a site offers significant opportunities. For example, it increases the number of customers, expands the geography of services, makes it possible to significantly expand the range of goods, reduces rental costs, and allows a merchant to enter new markets.
On the other hand, is everything really as simple as it seems? Of course not. Online business, as well as in any other business, has bright and dark sides. Let’s take a closer look at all aspects and nuances, so that those who are just thinking about creating their own online stores can either make sure that they are ready to cope with the challenges that arise, or understand that this type of business should not be started on a whim.
So, let’s consider the advantages of taking your store online:
- The online store provides an opportunity to build a more flexible work schedule.
Moreover, it increases mobility and personal responsibility. You can organise the work of an online store from anywhere, the only thing you need is access to the internet. Running such a business does not require the owner to stay in place. On the contrary, such a type of business provides freedom of movement. If you want to succeed, you need a little bit of self-organisation and basic skills in scheduling. Thus you’ll handle all the issues related to deliveries, shipments, etc.
- Lower financial costs for opening a store.
At this point, everything can be more or less relative since each stage has its options. Thus, the amount of financial investment will depend on the decisions made. For example, the choice of CMS: it can be either paid or free. The price for website creation will also vary depending on different things, such as functionality, content, etc. But if you compare the costs of opening an online store with costs of opening an actual physical outlet, then a virtual store will still come out to be cheaper. As a minimum, just from the fact that you’ll not have to pay for the rental of premises.
- You’ll be able to attract millennials.
And they can become your target audience. Millennials in their career years most probably will become your major clients for the foreseeable future. First of all, it is about gumption. Well, they know stuff, when it comes to online deals. Yep, they are savvy online. Even though they are not so financially independent today, they’ll get jobs in the near future, and the situation would change. Millennials are used to convenience and swiftness when it comes to purchases. Anyway, younger shoppers = online shoppers. This means fast checkouts to help reduce cart abandonment, flexible payment options, such as “buy now, pay later”, convenient (same-day) delivery, etc.
- It is faster to launch an online store.
If you look from a technical point of view, you can start the site within a couple of days after you have decided what you want to sell. It will take some time to find suppliers who can offer not only favourable prices, but also quality goods, but eventually, you’ll have to search for suppliers in any case (even if you are opening a physical store). But we are talking about the store per se now. Finding customers and promoting an online store will also take time, but we are sure a bricks-and-mortar store would also need some advertising. But if you compare the launch of a virtual store and a physical one, then the online business has a significant advantage here.
- The wider range of goods.
If you decide to work according to a dropshipping scheme, then you do not need to store all the goods in your warehouse. You can list the entire range of goods, which you have access to (through suppliers) on your site. And this means that the range of products will be huge. However, this scheme mostly doesn’t work for high-end brands. There are much fewer connoisseurs of such products, and the product is valued for its uniqueness. Therefore, in this case, a huge assortment is not the best idea.
- After all, the trade margin will be lower.
Here are some disadvantages of running an online store:
- Being in charge of running the site.
Of course, it will not become a problem for tech-savvy merchants. But it will become an issue for those who do not have the necessary knowledge and experience in this area. Thus, you have two options here. First, you can start learning something related to the issue, but it can take some time. On the other hand, you can join courses, but that will also take some time and money. The second option is to hire a specialist. It will surely solve the problem, but it is a money-consuming decision, and one more object of expenditure.
- A large number of competitors.
E-commerce is booming now, and it means competition is inevitable. It will not be so harsh if you have “niche” or exclusive products. But in all other cases, prepare for competition.
- Payment fees and payment-related tech issues.
Running an online store, you’ll face payment acceptance-related things, such as a business account, payment service provider, payment gateway, etc. What do you expect? You have to provide your customers with payment options. Furthermore, you’ll pay commission/fees for each transaction since any payment system will charge a fee.
- Delivery services.
You can’t run an online business without cooperation with delivery services. Sometimes delivery-related mistakes happen, which can affect business. On the other hand, mostly, customers pay for delivery services, but it depends.
- Disputes with customers.
Be prepared for the fact that there will be a lot of controversial situations. Customers will be dissatisfied with the quality of the product, its discrepancy with the picture from the site, delivery time, wrong shade of color, etc. When buying goods in an ordinary store, the buyer can make sure that they are buying exactly what they want. You can’t try on a blouse in an online shop (unless you have the same physical store), as well as you can’t touch a smartphone and understand whether it is convenient for you to hold it in your hand.