Online shopping has taken over the marketplace and it has left many wondering if shopping malls are a thing of the past. However, in some ways virtual stores can never replace the in-person experience. Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of virtual stores and determine whether or not it is the right approach for your business.
A virtual store is more flexible.
A virtual store allows the business to be more flexible to market conditions because you can quickly change the scope of products that are being offered. Also, since virtual stores allow you to market to customers around the world, your business is less vulnerable to regional downturns.
Some customers are not comfortable shopping online.
There are a variety of reasons why someone may be uncomfortable with online shopping; they may not be computer savvy or they could be suspicious of online retailers. Concerns about online scams and identity theft are completely legitimate. There is a certain portion of the population that will always be unreachable with a virtual store.
Some products are difficult to purchase online.
There are some products that customers will be reluctant to buy online because they aren’t able to try them on or closely inspect them. Also, big and bulky items are difficult and expensive to ship.
It is more difficult to form a relationship with your customers online.
It is difficult to compete with the human interaction that you get when visiting a traditional store. While it is possible to engage with your customer in a virtual store, it requires creativity and a consistent effort.
Online shopping is convenient.
Nothing beats online shopping for convenience. You can shop at any time and you don’t have to battle the crowds, traffic or weather. Since most people complain that there are not enough hours in the day, anything that saves your customer time is sure to be a hit.
Virtual stores allow you to offer more variety to your customer.
Anyone that owns or manages a store knows that shelf space is a precious commodity. A virtual store eliminates space limitations and allows you to display all of your merchandise on your website and keep it in storage until a customer places an order.
Your competition is just a few clicks away.
Online shopping is incredibly competitive. Once you get your customer to your website, you need to make a concerted effort to keep them there. If your customer doesn’t quickly find what they are looking for, they will move on to your competition.
Increasingly, the world is moving online and it’s important that your business evolves with the marketplace. However, after doing your research you may determine that a virtual store is not right for your business. Just try to keep an open mind and remember that sometimes you need to take a risk to allow your business to grow.
What do you choose more often - a virtual store or a bricks and mortar location? Please share your experiences below.