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Ecommerce, mcommerce and online business is undeniably a pretty huge deal but we reckon there is still an extremely viable place for physical shopping in the marketplace. The battle between online and offline business is something that seems to be splitting the crowd so we wanted to investigate the pros and cons of each. 

There was a time when nipping down to the local supermarket was the only way you could stock your cupboards for the week ahead. However, the wonder that is modern technology has enabled customers to order their items from the comfort of their very own homes and watch nonchalantly as the goods are unloaded from a large lorry that delivers them straight to the door. That’s just how most of us roll these days but is ecommerce wiping out the need for bricks-and-mortar business?

The beauty of bricks-and-mortar

According to a survey done at the end of last year by leading technology media property TechCrunch, which dedicates itself to “obsessively profiling startups”, 78% of customers still prefer to shop in store. Of those that the company questioned, a substantial 73% also agreed that they prefer to try or touch a product before they commit to buying it. These statistics are a good enough justification for the place of bricks-and-mortar business in the modern marketplace, surely?

What the modern consumer loves most of all is instant gratification and this fast-paced shopping process is something they thrive off. Their love of instant gratification is second only to ease and convenience and perhaps the only reason so many people are online shopping is to eliminate the arduous process of finding time to travel to their chosen store.

As TechCrunch proved, people love to touch, feel, see and try out products before they hand over their cash and this is the main reason that the modern market still needs physical shopping units. Customers feel that a brand has more legitimacy and transparency if it offers a mode of shopping that allows face-to-face interaction and a place to go that they can see for themselves.

Amazon and Graze are amongst the number of ecommerce giants that have recently announced their introduction to the physical market, with the latter rolling out across UK retailers and the former launching a New York shopfront. These are examples of excellent market placement tactics, which is a factor much more easily afforded when picking physical premises. Finding your niche in the colossal online industry can be a difficult and time-consuming process but physically planting yourself in the thick of it is much simpler, albeit more expensive.

The advantages of online business

Right we’ve fought the corner for bricks-and-mortar but now it’s time to flip the coin and explore some of the many benefits attached to the world of online business. In the same way a physical premises projects a certain validity that today’s consumers look for, a good digital reputation offers the same vote of confidence and grounding. Transactional ecommerce sites, mobile-friendly websites and a strong social media presence are something that consumers have come to expect of all brands and failing to provide such necessities will weaken the business’ street cred, so to speak.

Of course, there is always the low start-up costs and minimal staff wages to entice entrepreneurs towards starting up their own online enterprise because let’s face it, small business usually means small budget. Ecommerce ventures can be started up pretty much free of charges through the powers invested in that magical phenomenon known as social media. Free to use, online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the perfect place to test demand for your product, build up a customer base and start selling your wares. Eliminating the costly financial obligations and responsibilities attached to running a physical unit means you have much less to lose and can therefore afford to maybe take a few more risks along the way.

If those beneficial perks aren’t enough to persuade you that online business carries some serious weight then the gargantuan international customer base will surely do it. While bricks-and-mortar trading is great for allowing the instant gratification and one-to-one interaction that customers enjoy, it can leave your demographic limited. Doing business via the World Wide Web means you can reach out to a whole host of new audiences that you may not have had the chance to otherwise.

Customers want it all and they want it now

No matter what your stance on online and offline business, its common knowledge that consumers are a highly self-orientated species that want their desires fulfilled no matter what it takes. For example, the same customer that purchases edible goods from a supermarket website on a weekly basis may only ever buy clothing items in store through a need to touch, see and try things on.

So to conclude, it seems the modern customer is looking for omni-presence their favourite brands, which makes offline as well as online visibility equally as important. They want a multisensory experience which allows them the benefits of convenience that ecommerce provides but also the instant gratification and purchase control that physical shopping permits.

While we’ve got you – you might be interested in reading our guide to introducing your bricks-and-mortar business to the World Wide Web, or our tips on bringing your online business into the real world.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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