Online vs Brick _ Mortar Stores

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					The last 10 years have seen a meteoric rise in consumer spending online. People are
becoming more comfortable with using their credit cards online and are finding more
of what they are looking for, thanks to many more businesses having a web presence
than ever before. While cash is still not an option for online shoppers, the introduction
of credit/debit cards by most banks in response to the growth of ecommerce has
helped dampen fears of credit card fraud.
Ecommerce: Bigger Profits and Lower Overheads
The GFC has prompted a lot of businesses to find ways to become leaner and meaner.
Recent statistics show that major Australian brick and mortar retailer profits are pretty
flat, while ecommerce is growing by around 7% a year. For many businesses, their
website has become their primary sales tool for reaching new clients and customers.
Whether you are a backyard business or a major retailer, taking advantage of a web
presence can generate significant revenue streams.
Web hosting and domain name registration is much, much, much cheaper than the
costs involved with running a commercial premises. If you already operate from a
commercial property, the additional outgoing expense is minimal to keep your website
live. Beyond that someone needs to manage the website, provide customer service and
fulfilment (packaging and delivery), and all the other tasks that your business requires
to operate.
Online Shopping More Convenient
Surfing the net for the products and services you need is much easier and more
convenient than using a phone book and calling every provider. I mean seriously, who
uses Yellow Pages when you have Google search and Google maps? It 鈥檚 also far
more convenient to purchase online and have the item delivered than to drive there
and pick it up. Sure, there 鈥檚 the delivery cost to think about, but the cost to go and
pick it up in fuel, parking and time will in most cases balance it out. Savvy online
entrepreneurs understand that additional postage costs are a turn-off for a large
portion of shoppers and therefore offer it for free (build it into the cost-price.) The
other obvious advantage to shopping online is that ecommerce sites are mostly open
for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week! A lot of traditional shops miss
opportunities to make sales because they are only open during business hours. With
most people working a full time job and doing their best to live fulfilled lives, who
has time to shop? Not being a big shopaholic myself, I prefer not to spend my
precious spare time at the mall searching for some widget that I want. I personally
hate shopping malls and would much rather prefer to search for a product or service
online at my own convenience either at home or on my mobile phone and have it
delivered as well. Some of us just have better things to do...
Continually Innovate to Compete
The Internet has a tendency to open up markets to more competition. This is good for
consumers, but means that businesses need to be better than ever at differentiating
themselves from their competitors and reaching their audience. Your website also
needs to break down any barriers that prevent the customer from making a positive
decision. Remember that you probably have about 30 seconds or less to grab the
visitors 鈥?attention before they leave your website and go to your competition.
Here are a few ways that you can differentiate your website from the rest:
鈥?Have actual contact details on your website. Many websites hide their contact
details and makes them look like they are running a scam. Would you give money to
someone for a product to someone with a promise to deliver without a contact phone
number. Good luck to you and you may be interested in this bridge I have available
for sale.
鈥?Provide quality images of your products/services. Most traditional stores allow
visitors to see and touch, perhaps even smell a product. While touch and smell is
currently not an available technology for websites, if you can give the customer the
very best visual representation as possible, this will go a long way towards assuring
the customer of what they are buying.
鈥?Have a distinctive 鈥渃 all-to-action 鈥? A call-to-action, usually a button, needs
to catch the visitors 鈥?eye and clearly indicate the next step they need to take to take
advantage of what you are offering. This could be an 鈥淎 dd to Cart 鈥?button, or a
link to a contact form or newsletter subscription. The call-to-action should also
provide an incentive to perform the action that you want from your visitors.
鈥?Encourage Feedback. What your potential customers think is important. Offer
them every opportunity to let you know what they think of your website, your
products, your service, everything... While you will need to discern helpful feedback
from people that cannot be pleased no matter what you do, doing business online
creates a great opportunity for you to get opinions on where improvements can be
made and therefore increase your returns when you act on them. This can be achieved
with form based surveys, social media and putting a feedback form in your email
correspondence to name a few methods.
鈥?Keep Your Promises. If you make ANY claims on your website, make sure you
can carry it through and is truthful.
鈥?Offer Discounts and Special Offers. Recent retail market studies show that
Australian consumers are addicted to discount sales.
鈥?Use SEO and SEM to Increase Reach and Visibility. I say it often and it bears
repeating: simply having a website does not guarantee traffic and sales. A website
must be marketed properly to get the traffic and sales it deserves. Your customers
need to find you and the best way to accomplish this end is to gain positions on the
Google search results for search terms closely related to your businesses products and
services. This can be achieved by engaging search engine experts that can setup
effective online advertising campaigns, as well as ensure over the longer term that
your website appears in the natural search results of the major search engines.
The last point is key to the success of your ecommerce website and its profitability.
The vast majority of Internet users will use one of the three major search engines
(Google in particular) to find businesses. Without good exposure to the major search
engines, your business is basically invisible to most potential online customers.
Ecommerce is more 鈥淕 reen 鈥?than Traditional Shops
Ecommerce is much 鈥 済 reener 鈥 ?than brick and mortar stores. The more
consumers and clients use the Internet to make their purchases and use email for their
correspondence, the bigger the reduction in the use of paper and that 鈥檚 good for
everybody. Encouraging ecommerce and using the Internet for media consumption is
basically good for the planet and will go some way towards a more sustainable
economy with less impact on finite resources. All that needs to be done to make the
Internet even greener would be to make cleaner electricity.Ecommerce Design,
Development and Marketing
 AWD can provide ecommerce website development, design, Internet marketing and
SEO Services to ensure success for your endeavours. For information about complete
ecommerce and marketing solutions, contact AWD today.