These days, people who start a retail business are faced with two major options for selling their products: online vs. offline. Most entrepreneurs choose to balance between the both for maximum advantages, but it helps to study them in detail from a marketing perspective. Although online stores are not a physical place, considering their use is part of product placements (from 4P marketing mix).
This is obviously the more recent location for retail sales, beginning only after the advent of the internet. Online sales are seeing an increase lately, especially during the pandemic year. There are several ways to sell products online, both directly and indirectly.
For those who can design and manage a website, directly selling to consumers from within the website means they have complete control over sales. It also means they aren’t sharing generated revenue. However, using the services of an existing (popular) e-commerce website to sell indirectly might give products more exposure, creating more opportunities to generate sales.
- Online shopping is more convenient for the customer and seller alike. Consumers may easily give in to temptation when shopping online because the experience is less immersive than physically shopping at a store. Another factor affecting convenience is that online stores are not restricted by working hours so that customers can shop 24/7.
- Online stores cost less money to set up and run because warehouses are cheaper to rent than retail stores at prime locations. Also, fewer employees are needed to run an online store (hence, less money is spent on wages).
- The internet is global, and online stores can easily facilitate global sales. This is an excellent way to increase market share.
- There are millions of online stores competing against each other, which makes success more difficult.
- From a consumers’ perspective, nothing beats a real-life experience when testing a product. For example, trying on clothes/footwear at a physical store cannot be replicated online.
Traditionally retail sales were conducted in a physical location, either a brick-and-mortar store or a marketplace. They are now called offline sales, and the location is the most crucial element that must be considered when choosing a retail location. Places that do not get high traffic will generally need more marketing to generate sales because people will need to go out of their way to visit the store.
- It is much easier to attract local customers using offline retail. Competition online is exponentially greater, and success requires more innovative solutions than offline retail stores.
- Group shopping and inspecting products are only possible offline.
- Rent for a suitable location can be costly, whereas cheaper sites may not generate sufficient sales. Many retail stores increase their prices if they move to a prime location.
- Maintaining a store can be expensive, and periodic renovations are essential to keep attracting customers.
Every retail business must conduct sufficient research before deciding on a place to market its products. Most large companies offer a mix of both locations, but small retailers may choose one or the other to cut down on costs.