Brick & mortar businesses are grand and all but they have many setbacks, considering that they are tied to a physical location, often forced into working with local services (cable, utilities, community guidelines), and limited to the workforce within the immediate area.
Businesses that are borne from the advances in technology and the web have incredible flexibility in areas like communication, payment processing, marketing, and oh-so much more in comparison. It’s easy to see why so many prefer the advantage of technology versus the lockdown found through brick & mortar businesses.
Let’s consider some of these differences.
Operating from a brick & mortar location generally means your hours are set by other businesses in your location. You may want to operate 24/7 but when the rest of the commerce park closes at 9PM you’re not likely to get the walk-ins. Because of the limited hours you are also limited in providing customer service and experience; you only have a small window of time to convince someone on the sale and to help them understand the value of your product/service (or provide help).
Digital, on the other hand, has no limits. Since the online shop continues to operate around the clock, it’s easy to hire individuals in other time zones to complete sales, handle customer support, and continue to develop the strategies to help the business grow. In regards to customer support, technology such as Voip systems allow you to connect through any device and still appear professional (so they’re not calling you at home or through your cell phone). By removing this disconnect, it’s easier to keep the cash flow rolling in as long as you’re awake (or as far away as you want to be).
Worth researching: Voip systems
You’re stuck with the people you’ve hired when running a shop. If you hired well this really isn’t a problem but we all know that people can be difficult to manage. Your sales are often limited to the skill of the individual, your location, and your local reputation. If any of these are misaligned you will have great trouble attracting customers let alone keeping them coming back for more.
Online business, on the other hand, benefits through sales automation, analytical platforms to improve conversions, an endless resource of skilled workers from around the globe, and commerce technology that can make recommendations, upsells, and work in coupons through behavioral targeting – to do this in the real world would be monstrously tedious.
Worth noting: How to increase sales online (checklist)
Brick & mortar can take advantage of the Net to do promotions along with having benefits of walk-ins, local promotions, flyering, coverage on local news/newspapers, and more, but it’s pricey and can be cutthroat depending on the local competition.
Those that go the digital route can pay a fraction of what a physical shop may pay for marketing because there are countless advertising platforms, social media, content marketing, sponsorships, and marketplaces that will list your products/services for a small cut as if you’re a mom & pop that managed to get their offer into the likes of Wal-Mart.
Worth trying: The advanced guide to content marketing
Having the ability to talk face-to-face with employees and business owners give the brick & mortar an advantage but many of us prefer the anonymity of shopping which is what digital stores facilitate. When praising or complaining to an employee you feel comfortable doing it behind your screen or over the phone versus being right in their face. Because there is less tension there is less pressure to take it too far and this allows each party to remain calm and come to a logical, valuable conclusion.
Digital gains the benefit of live chat, social media, video support, remote access, easy-to-enter contests, reviews, and community interaction via forums, group chat, and group video. Robust ecommerce systems, social platforms, and tools like Skype can facilitate the interactivity people want without the confrontation they may feel when physically present in a traditional shop.
So what would you choose? The coziness of a brick & mortar shop or the streamlined nature of a digital business?