Today lets talk about offline versus online retailing.
Do you currently have an offline store and are eager to sell your products online? Are you planning to sell both online and offline? This is multi-channel retailing.
E-commerce (selling online) accounts for approximately 30%-40% of all retail sales worldwide and is growing month on month. This demonstrates that mixing the two sales channels can be explosive when working in synergy; especially when you run marketing strategies such as ‘Buy Online, Collect-in-Store’.
The advantage of an online business is that you can sell a complete selection of products, with no limits on space. A bookstore can only hold so many books, but online you can display and sell the entire range of book titles the world over, should you wish.
An online business typically has highly automated and more efficient software and systems. Online marketing is highly targeted and ultimately e-commerce overhead costs are lower. On the flip side, if not managed well e-commerce design, operational and marketing costs can sky-rocket and sink your business.
E-commerce websites do not have the advantage of a typical store-front with passing trade (footfall), so you cannot be passive and wait for customers to come to you, as many offline retailers do.
However, just like an offline business, a website needs traffic (customers), conversions (sales) and it’s essential you build a relationship by communicating with your customers to offer them valuable information and products on the back-end (after the sale is made.
If you already have an offline business, bolting on an e-commerce business could be the way to double, triple or even quadruple your profits and reach customers in parts of the world you never knew existed.
However, an analysis of the pros and cons must be completed. If approached without planning or checking the numbers it may just add unnecessary costs, which ultimately reduce your net profits.
When trading through multi-channels there are a number of elements to consider in preparation for hiring a web designer, hiring employees and building your website.
Here’s a few elements to consider to get you started…
– What overall budget are you allocating to the initial set-up of your website? Have you compared this with existing and similar live websites, ensuring it is a realistic figure to compete with them. Will you get good Return On Investment?
– Are you planning to offer the same, selected or additional products on your e-commerce site compared to your offline store?
– Will you be synchronizing your online and offline prices between your website and offline systems at all times, including sale periods?
– Will you be offering a Buy Online, Collect-in-Store service?
– Have you budgeted for all online and offline running costs and how will you measure the profitability of the site against that of your offline channel?
This is just a small sample taken from over 10 years e-commerce and multi-channel retailing experience all detailed in a simplified way in E-commerce Get It Right!