Clicks vs bricks: should your business be online, real world or both?
If you’ve made the decision to open a bricks and mortar business, you must go virtual too – if not a retail site, then at least an online presence with contact details and brand information.
On the other hand, if you choose to begin trading online, you don’t need a physical shopfront, but may need to work much harder on marketing.
There has been an international trend recently for successful online retailers to open real-world flagship or showroom stores.
In 2015 Amazon – largely blamed for putting traditional bookstores out of business – opened a shopfront in Seattle. And some clothing retailers have opened ‘showrooms’ to allow customers to try clothes before buying online.
It’s called ‘omni-channelling’ and is going to become more prevalent as retailers attempt to engage with customers on all platforms.
When planning your business venture, one of your first decisions will be whether to go physical or virtual. This will likely be dictated by the product or service you are selling, which may lend itself to one format over another.
Choosing to go with bricks means:
- Having a physical presence conveys a sense of legitimacy.
- Your shop front does double-duty advertising and housing your business.
- It is pivotal your business is well-located.
- Your start-up costs will be higher because you need to lease commercial premises and run higher stock levels.
- You will probably spend long hours on site.
- You will still need to devote time to a website as this is how many people will want to find and contact you.
Going with clicks:
- Results in significantly cheaper start-up costs, particularly if you are working from home – and it means you don’t have to commute.
- Means you may need to carry less inventory – ordering with demand.
- Puts much more pressure on you to draft and implement an effective marketing campaign to drive customers to your site.
A conservative and cost-effective plan for many businesses is to establish a website and online client base before dipping their toes in higher-stakes physical realm with market stalls or pop-up shops.