When you have a successful ecommerce store, it’s inevitable that your mind begins to turn to new ideas. Given that you seem to have made a hit in the online world of retail, you might wonder if perhaps there is a future in physical retail for you?
It’s easy to see why physical retail is attractive, especially if you have tried and succeeded with ecommerce. There are still huge swathes of the population that prefer to buy items in a store, which means there potentially millions of customers that you current online store isn’t ever going to be able to capture. Given that you’ve made it in the ecommerce world, just how much different could it be to run a physical retail store?
Is Purchasing Stock Different?
The actual purchasing of the stock is not particularly different for ecommerce and physical stores. The one difference worth mentioning is the storage power you have; with a retail store, you will likely have a warehouse or back room of some sort which you can fill with more stock. This might mean you can get a discount, allowing you to purchase stock for lower prices.
Is Inventory Management Different?
Not particularly. In both cases, you’ve got to keep a good track on how you ensure that your business is supplied with large enough quantities of stock for you to be able to meet customer demand. Whether it’s physical retail or ecommerce, figuring out how to do inventory management for small business is largely the same.
Is Workload Different?
There is arguably more of a workload with ecommerce businesses, as you have to photograph and write descriptions of all the products you want to sell. In a physical retail store, this isn’t necessary, meaning you may find that a retail store actually requires fewer worker hours than with ecommerce.
Are The Customers Different?
Yes. Retail stores ideally have to have something that will appeal to multiple demographics; you don’t know who is going to walk past and pop in for a browse. Ecommerce tends to be far more targeted, with customers looking for something specific rather than just generally seeing what’s available. If you have been intending to branch out when it comes to the types of product you sell, then retail offers a natural way to do this.
Is Promotion Different?
Yes, to an extent. Both types of stores rely on good marketing, but physical stores tend to require more in-person marketing — such as leafleting or advertising in the local press — to drive customers through the door. This type of marketing is not particularly useful for ecommerce stores, so it may be something you don’t have a lot of experience with; with that said, it’s relatively easy to learn.
In truth, retail is retail. There are some differences between on- and offline stores, but they are the same in the base requirement: identifying products that customers are going to want to buy. If you can do that online, then there’s a good chance you might be able to do it offline, too.