Deciding to sell your products is an exciting moment in any business owner’s life. You’ll finally be able to show the world what you’ve been working so hard on, and you’ll be able to share your passion with new customers! But it can be tough to decide where to sell, whether you want to be strictly e-commerce or move into your own brick-and-mortar shop. This article will help you go through the pros and cons of each choice and decide which option is right for you and your products.
1. Consider Your Budget
The obvious benefit of opening an online shop is that it’s much cheaper than opening a physical store. You don’t have to pay rent or utilities, furnish it, or hire retail employees. If your inventory is small, like selling niche items like CBD oil for dogs, you’ll probably be able to run an online store by yourself and can afford to get professional web design to create a swanky website. If your budget is tight, then an online store is probably the best way for you to go.
2. Assess Your Products
On the other hand, there are some types of products that are best sold in physical shops. Things like high-end clothing, jewelry, or antiques tend to be something a customer would prefer to see in person before buying rather than taking a chance based on a photo from the website. Plus, the experience of shopping in your store might be something that’s very important to you.
If you’ve put a lot of work into creating a particular aesthetic or ambiance with your products, you may want to have a physical store so that your customers can really understand what you’ve worked so hard to create. Of course, there are other products that are best sold online. Straightforward items that don’t depend on aesthetics or proportion to be a good fit can be sold online without any frustration from shoppers, so just take a moment to assess which category your products are in before making that call.
3. Look at the Competition
When you were creating your products, you probably did some research into how your competition did things. Do they have online shops, or did they stick with a physical store? How has that choice contributed to their success? How do you think you could improve on what they did? It’s much easier to get noticed online if your products are innovative and truly unique. Something more generic or too niche to become virally popular is best in a physical shop where it can catch someone’s eye more easily than on a social media ad banner.
If your competition only offers products online, having a physical store can set you apart in the market. It may not be the convenient, quick option people love to have these days, but it has a certain appeal that could attract people to your business over the competition.
4. Understand Marketing
The marketing options for online stores versus retail are vastly different and can make a huge difference to your success. In a physical store, your options for marketing will be limited to the area your store is in, meaning your target audience will be quite small. Online, your market is practically limitless. You can advertise to a gigantic audience in a short amount of time, and it can be relatively cheap to do.
With a physical store, deciding to rebrand for marketing purposes will mean expensive refurbishing your space and redesigning logos, whereas an online store can change its entire look with ease. If simple but effective marketing is important to you, online might be the way to go. But not all business owners care about reaching a massive audience and would prefer sticking to their local customer base, for which a physical store is the best choice.
5. Manage Your Time
Running a shop can be extremely time-consuming, and many people who start shops already have a job to begin with. Before deciding what kind of store you want to have, it’s good to understand how much time you really have to offer for running it. An online store typically will be less involved since it can be automated and only requires occasional maintenance.
A physical store is going to be more demanding, particularly if you’re the only employee in the beginning. You’ll have to be there during all open hours and will most likely have to be there when the store is closed to do inventory and other necessary tasks. If you’re already employed and don’t have the staff to take care of the business for you, it might be best to start with an online store to avoid time management issues and burnout down the road.
6. Consider Doing Both
Let’s face it: Everyone is expected to have an online presence today. So, even if you decide to open a brick-and-mortar shop, when people Google you, they’re going to expect you to have an affiliated website. You may not have to sell products online, but if you’re going the extra step to create a site, maybe it would be worth going the extra step and having a physical-online business fusion.
This can be a successful business strategy since it means customers can have the satisfying experience of shopping in a physical store and seeing the products, but can also have the convenience and ease of the online shopping option. Of course, having both might mean twice the work for you, so it might be good to start out with one choice before adding the other. You’ll have the ability to build real relationships with customers while still having the massive marketing pool to tap into for business expansion.
Whatever you decide, opening a store is going to be an exciting, exhausting, and fulfilling experience. Remember to keep in mind your original intent for starting a business, and don’t give up on that dream just because the realities of owning a business can be boring or tough. Stick it out, put a lot of work into your store, and eventually, the rewards will start streaming in.