Kirsty Moody investigates into the pros and cons for both brick and mortar.
The most difficult decision when creating your business is deciding whether to open online or as an actual store. This can be down to personal preference, but also what is better for the business.
Obviously with stores such as cafes and bars, they need to be in a physical store, but what if you’re just selling little bits like necklaces, products that are dedicated to a certain film or even just branded merchandise?
What works for one company, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. Many people choose to open a store online to see how well their business goes before taking the plunge to open a store, whereas some people work the other way around and would rather open a physical store, and then when business has worked out well for them, they will go online.
With going online, there is always going to be difficulties but that’s the same as opening a store. To help you out a little bit, we have put together a small pros and cons guide to what we and store owners (online and a physical store) think of which works best.
Pros to online:
- You can place stock online as and when it sells, meaning you don’t have to create things until it has been purchased
- You can pick and choose when stock goes online
- You can choose your work hours
- You can make use of all the social media available, and link straight to your online website
- You choose where stock can be sent to, whether UK, Europe or Worldwide
- You won’t be spending money on rent of a store
Cons to online:
- People can place orders at any time and can be demanding on delivery times
- Some people may not want to order from a smaller store as it may not be a trusted site
- There can be costs for a website if you are investing in a company to do this for you
- Advertising costs may also bulk up the costs if you are wanting to target certain people
- Security and fraud has attracted criminal elements, making your site susceptible to hacking
- The postal cost may not be taken into consideration for returns
Pros to instore:
- You can interact and engage more with customers
- You can create a brand loyalty with the regular customers who come in
- The store can be as creative and exciting as you want
- You can choose your own work hours and who works for you
- You will quickly realise what stock sells better
- You can create buzz around a store opening but also about new stock coming in
Cons to instore:
- Cost – with rent and furniture, the cost can quickly stack up
- You may find you are left with unwanted stock
- Customers may not always be loyal
- If there is a similar shop close by, price wars can be create
- If you are hiring employees to help, this will be an added cost
- There could be a lot of competition in the same area
Tom Davies owns Harlequins Store, which specialises in cards and games. They have stores in Preston and Blackpool and also operate event nights.
Tom said: “I chose to open a store because I like to talk to people and help them to find the games that suit them, I’m not very good at online stuff, so a shop made sense.”
For Harlequins store, opening a physical store made it easier to see what the customers want to buy and what is the best for them. The great thing for Harlequins store is the interaction between the owners and the customers, creating company loyalty as they will know that they will try to get stock in if the customers are wanting certain items. Even though they are a physical store, they have dabbled in the online world. With Tom saying “we are having a website built to sell online” meaning that even though they have a physical store, having products online must be at a demand for them. Even though they have a Facebook page, it’s not used all that much apart from occasionally sharing a few events and products they have in stock, however Tom said “We run a lot of events and use word of mouth to spread just how good we are at what we do.” Clearly, with what Tom is already doing for his business, it works out better for him and his business plan.
Toms quick tip about starting your own business would be “if you are starting your own business do as much research as you can it isn’t as easy as it seems.”
The pros that Tom has found from his business are “meeting new people, playing new games, you learn a lot very quickly” whilst his cons are “tidying up after people who don’t know how to use bins, lots of hidden things you don’t realise when you start, pre-ordering the right games in the right amount etc.”