Online vs offline sales
When it comes to choosing between Offline or Online Sales, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an either/or situation. Offline retail is still the most popular, but online sales have also been rapidly growing more popular and will likely continue to do so.
The best approach is to consider your current business position and which option is better for you. If your business is in its early stages, maybe it’s wise to start selling online if your product allows you to because it can be a lower investment that allows you to test the market before investing in a physical store.
It’s basically about choosing where do you want to invest your money.
Do you want to spend it acquiring a physical space in a strategic location, covering utility bills and other expenses? or Does it make more sense for your product to be readily available online, so it’s worth investing more in digital marketing so more people know about your website and your product?
They both have pros and cons to consider.
About Online Sales
The initial investment is lower, so it’s a great starting point if your product can be sold online. You don’t need to have a big inventory, so your production costs will also be lower. No rent or utility bills to pay for, a lot less – and much simpler – maintenance.
Not only that, but from the user point of view, it can be extremely enticing as it allows for more research and comparison between products, more time to make an informed choice and a good investment.
The customer can browse your products anywhere, any time, for as long as they wish and that comfort is highly appreciated. They get to experience the excitement of buying something twice: when they purchase the product and when it arrives at their doorstep.
There’s no pressure, no rush, no queues which makes it quicker and more practical – as long as you make sure all the steps of the customer journey inside your online store are optimized to provide a great online buying experience.
From the retailers’ point of view, it allows you to collect data on your customers’ habits and use it to improve your marketing efforts.
It provides a number of contact points with your customer that allows you to build a more trusting relationship with them. Trust is what makes online retail work, so it’s fundamental to provide a good product and good customer care.
If you don’t have a physical location, this might make it harder for people to get to know your business, so it will require a bigger investment in digital marketing to make your product and your website well-known and trusted by the public.
About Offline Sales
Traditional offline sales are still the preferred method of purchasing goods by most, as it usually offers a more hands-on approach to said purchasing: you get to see the product, touch it, try it and see if it fits your expectations.
Having a physical store also allows you to share your brand’s vision with your audience. If you’re doing things right, it will be a pleasant and memorable experience, it will build trust in your brand and it will make customers want to return. Your brand can start gaining notoriety locally first and become a part of your city’s social fabric.
It will also allow you to captivate your audience straight from the street and to have meaningful interactions with them in person. Otherwise, you would be investing in marketing strategies to make your audience aware your product exists.
What’s not so wonderful about having a physical store? The great costs that come with having and maintaining a store: inventory, staff, utility bills, maintenance, security, among other expenses.
If your location is not ideal it can be a problem too.
- If you pick an area that type of audience isn’t drawn to the area you chose it can be difficult to attract them to your business. You also can’t control what happens around you; there can be a fire, an accident or a big competitor can move in next door and divert your audience’s attention from your store.
It’s not an either/or situation though
Nowadays it’s becoming increasingly common for brands to opt for both: online and offline sales.The ideal situation is to make these two different channels work together to better serve the needs of the public. They complement each other perfectly when their best qualities are combined; the customer can browse and choose online and then try it and purchase it in person for example.
Online stores can create interesting dynamics with their audience by doing pop-up stores. Offline stores can implement digital elements in their stores, like the Amazon supermarket where you don’t have to go to the register to purchase your groceries.
So it doesn’t have to be a hard choice. You can combine elements of both methods to see what better fits your brand, what is best for your business and what covers all your customers’ needs. That’s where the future is headed so might as well start considering it.