Retail v/s E-tail — Learn to make an informed choice

13th May 2016
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Be it a pair of socks, a luxury villa or a sports car--anything, just anything, can be bought and sold online. Online businesses are growing much faster in today’s internet era making one doubt the reach and possibilities of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. Many fail to understand that a business on the internet is substantially different from the traditional retail model. Here are some of the differences between an offline and online business to keep in mind before making a choice.

Image credits - Shutterstock
Image credits - Shutterstock

Space versus touch

In a physical store, the number of products on display will be limited by the physical space and the number of shelves available. Online stores provide a totally different experience. It offers the scope for displaying a large number of products, in a more organised and systematic way. The good part about an offline store, however, will always be that the buyer can touch, feel and most often even try on the product before they buy it. Although, some online stores now offer at-home trial services, these are still in its nascent stages.

Money matters

This is an important factor when you have to choose between either retail or e-commerce. While shopping online, you may have noticed that the cost of a product differs a lot. E-commerce portals like Amazon and eBay offer customers a bunch of attractive deals and discounts. Now, who would want to waste their energy bargaining when they could avail these offers right from the comfort of their homes!

Faster setup

Setting up an online business is undoubtedly easier than setting up a physical store. First off, you don’t need to hunt for a physical location. For an online store, one just needs a well-designed website with ample storage space. The efforts spent on decor, insurance and displaying stock can be fully done away with. One of the added benefits of an online store is that you could make your business look bigger, no matter how much your capital may be.

 Sales 24/7

Can you imagine how much profit a store that remains open 24/7 could make? Apart from technical issues, the business of an online store is not affected by holidays, strikes or changes in weather.

Global customers

With over 3 billion people using the internet effectively today, an e-store can reach every nook and corner of this world. Today, sitting in India, you can easily access online stores from various parts of the world. In the case of a physical store, access is limited to customers of a certain area.

Communication and trust

Sometimes physical presence really matters. Some customers tend to trust businesses that have a physical presence much more than a bunch of words on the Internet. It may also be harder for an online business to communicate with customers. Real face to face interaction with potential customers can be helpful in giving them more information about your products.

It goes without saying that customer is king today. So the choice of setting up an online or offline store depends largely on your customer and his mindset. Today, most businesses have a healthy mix of both online and offline retail. To get ahead of your competition and profit, one needs to thoroughly study the potential customer’s needs and preferences by investing in effective marketing research methods before making a choice.

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