Online vs Bricks and Mortar

A topic my friend Leo and I often talk about is how online businesses compare to bricks and mortar ones. Here is some insight he had about how you can start to compare the two:

In hard times people get a little bit more creative about making money. As there is less money to go around one wants to insure that what one has can go a long way. One might be tempted to visit markets and a sell some products or maybe open an online shop. Online businesses or websites tend to be seen as a cheap option. no rent, no expensive layout costs, staff recruitment cost. Is that so?

It is common misconception that online stores are cheap and easy. It can be best be summoned up by you get what you pay/put in. For example Ebay provides excellent e-commerce facilities. The only down side with it is the cost. All our clients that use that service are trying unsuccessfully to get away from it. They are tired of Ebay taking their percentage. Unfortunately building up customer trust on there own website is proving difficult. But that need not be the case with the right planning and investment.

This is where the shop comparison comes in. If you would spend ten thousand pounds setting up out high street retail shop, you will need to spend at least that on an internet retail business to make it successful. There are few shortcuts that really work. If you want to create a successful business you will need to either spend the money to employ somebody to set it up for you in the way that create positive sales, or you will have to spend the time yourself. If you thing that just buying a domain name and putting some e-commerce software purchased for a couple of hundred bucks is going to create an online business, I have news for you. It ain’t going to happen. Pity you may say, but the good news is that with the right tick sheet you can solve many of the problems.

Before you’ll begin you may want to think about the following:

  • Customer registration and account management
  • News letter signup
  • Automatic email confirmation
  • Search feature
  • Secure user login
  • User behaviour statistics
  • Varied Payment options
  • Email to a friend

Or maybe not, How about this:

  1. Target Audience – Who is your website directed at? Other businesses, older people, all age groups? It is important to understand who you are talking to and what goals you have for the site.
  2. Number of Pages – Do you know the number and types of pages and how they relate to each other? You don’t need to know the exact details but try and think about what types of pages you should have.
  3. Content – This means the text inside the pages and it is the most important part of the website. The rest of the site builds what we call in the industry rapport, but the contents are what sell your product or services. In fact if your site looked horrible but had great content it could still be successful, but not the other way around.
  4. Design – Do you know what colors you would like or the type of graphic contents? Do you have logos ready to be used? Your site can be graphic heavy as we say or it can be clean and sparse. It is your choice and is very much a personal decision. If you don’t know what you want, you can surf the internet and find some sites you like.
  5. Images – Do you have all the pictures for the site and are they in a digital format?
  6. Forms – These pages are the ones that collect information from your visitors and then send you this information as an email. You can contact us to discuss your options. We will guide you through the process, one step at a time.

There some interesting information there, however I would tend to take it a step further. The key to making a business work, regardless of whether it’s online or offline, is a successful business case. Without the correct strategy in place you’re doomed to failure, regardless of how complete your online offering will be. Focusing on the technology is the wrong place to start; first analyse what demand exist for your services, then decide what effort and resources you want to invest in it.