The internet has changed the retail industry. Obtaining a product used to necessitate a trip to the mall or a local store. People are now using their desktop computers or mobile devices to have merchandise delivered to their doorsteps. According to Digital Commerce 360, consumers spent $453.46 bill on online shopping in 2017.
Entrepreneurs looking to start a retail business must consider the ramifications of the rise of online retail. You might be wondering: Should you open a physical store? Launch an online-only retail business? Pursue an omni-channel solution? To start, here are five key advantages of ecommerce over brick-and-mortar sales.
Advantage #1: Ecommerce Boosts Customer Convenience
A recent survey revealed nearly half of respondents (43 percent) named convenience as their primary reason for purchasing goods online rather than in person. Convenience beat out other reasons for buying online like pricing, variety and home delivery.Put it this way: People like to take the shortest route between points A and B. If shopping online can save them a trip to the store—and the gas pump—then many people are likely to give it a try. If they have a positive experience, they may just become habitual online shoppers.
However, convenience hinges on offering a positive user experience (UX) online. This means speedy load times and simple navigation. The last thing you want is for your ecommerce customers, who are seeking convenience, to hit a snag on your website and exit out of frustration.
Advantage #2: Websites Are Great Sales Tools
So what is an ecommerce website? In its most basic form, an ecommerce website enables consumers to browse products and purchase them via a payment gateway. Instead of training an entire sales staff and setting up an entire sales floor, ecommerce entrepreneurs can focus on building a website that both informs and persuades customers.
It doesn’t take extensive coding experience to create a website complete with HD imagery, informative copy and intuitive controls. And once your site is up and running, it’s simply a matter of making improvements and assessing the performance. This tends to be much less labor intensive than opening and closing a physical store each day.
Advantage #3: No Need to Rent Physical Sales Space
Physical stores require paying per square foot to rent the commercial space. Selling online alleviates these costs, though paying to create and host a website does require some funding.
Brick-and-mortar retailers often depend on foot traffic to get potential customers in the door. Similarly, ecommerce retailers must drive online traffic through tactics like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing and social media.
Advantage #4: Ecommerce Overcomes Distance
Brick-and-mortar stores are limited by geographical distance. That is, a shopper must be proximal to the location to visit. But ecommerce stores are overcoming geographic limitations by allowing people from all over a given country—or even the world—to buy goods.
Advantage #5: Ecommerce Allows for Data-Driven Personalization
When someone walks into a brick-and-mortar store, sales associates usually have little context for their habits, preferences and behaviors. Ecommerce entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have all of this data at their disposal. This increasingly allows merchants to personalize the shopping experience for customers.
Ecommerce websites can leverage artificial intelligence to recommend products to consumers based on prior purchases and browsing behavior. Ecommerce marketers can also personalize subject lines and content within emails based on recipient behavior. Merchants can also serve online users retargeting ads based on purchases they have clicked on or added to their shopping carts in the past.
Ecommerce has a number of advantages over brick-and-mortar sales, making it a viable option for many entrepreneurs looking to harness the power of the internet.