The myth: “An online business is cheap and easy…”
The so-called online environment expands more and more day by day, with every company/ business somehow compelled to presenting its services and offers through a presentation website or through an online shop. Having an increasing access to the internet, via fixed and mobile devices, most of us document ourselves on the internet when we want to find out something… Actually, just because of this, nowadays one simple argument is applied: “You’re not online, therefore you don’t exist!”
An online business can have many advantages which, of course, can be exploited in their own way, but it can also have quite some disadvantages. Hereunder we will try to mention the most important of these and of course to briefly explain them:
ADVANTAGE: A larger marketplace
One of the biggest advantages when you’re being online is that anyone, wherever they might be, can see the services and products you’re offering, without them being limited by a walk to your company or to the space where you have the products exposed. Through two or three clicks, they can see who you are, what you do, what are you selling and much more. Moreover, they can build up an opinion about you and your business or maybe even acquire your products through an automatic ordering system.
Actually, being present in the vast online environment, you assure yourself of covering a much bigger visitor/ potential customers market, market that will not be limited by their location or by the hour they want to access your “store”.
DISADVANTAGE: Being unable to have a “strategically” positioned space
I think all of us know those shops and coffee shops that are strategically positioned, in heavy traffic areas or in a crowded intersection. These spaces “attract” their own customers, just because they are in the right place at the right time, always. Actually, let’s do a bit of exercise: imagine yourself left home in a hurry, to work, and you didn’t have time for your breakfast; the shop you will be entering to get a yogurt or even maybe a croissant to keep you satiated until lunch will be a strategically positioned shop, maybe even on your way to work. So, any traditional shop that doesn’t jump out with anything particular at all or that doesn’t invest in its representation has thousands of customers every single month.
Well, this advantage of the traditional shops can’t be applied to an online business, it having a virtual – and not real – marketplace. An online shop is therefore deprived of potential “passing-by” customers that can turn very easy into buyers of your products. Even so, if you do have an online business, you can benefit off of the traffic caught by the “online intersections”, resorting to SEO off page services.
ADVANTAGE: An easier communication regarding products and services
Nowadays the buyers don’t have the time or patience they once had. Whether they choose to search the wanted products/services in a real shop or on the internet, they need a system to ease their choice as much as possible, a way through which they can compare prices and characteristics between products and brands very easily.
In an online business, through a presentation website, it will be much easier for you to structure the information you need to reach your potential customer and to highlight as many positive parts of your products or services you want to offer as possible. Pictures, descriptions and many other tools can be used to further improve the accuracy of your products presentation.
DISADVANTAGE: The products are not palpable
Unlike any other normal business, in an online business the products are not palpable, they can be seen but not touched by the customers. Psychologically speaking, this aspect has a negative influence when it comes to the customer’s purchase of the product. Furthermore, many people are still reluctant to anything that implies online payment and virtual shops; they just don’t trust that their personal and banking data are completely safe when they are making an online payment. In an online business these conservative people are the hardest to persuade to “migrate” from real environment shopping to the so-called virtual shopping.
But the upside is that this market is under complete continuous development and that more and more people/ Romanians choose to do their shopping online. According to forbes.ro only 27% Romanians do their shopping on the internet, but this percentage is growing year by year. This may be good for any online business as the Romanian virtual market is currently facing a continuous growth.
ADVANTAGE: Lower rent, employees and utility expenses
Naturally, when you have an online business, the so-called fixed expenses are significantly smaller comparing this type of business with a normal one. Within the pale of an online business you can rent a space in the outskirts of your town – thus a lower rent – without being concerned that this aspect will have a negative influence on your sales; you can hire fewer people because their work can be streamlined to the maximum. A simple office with two or three employees is more than enough to a just starting online business – of course, the number of your employees will increase in time, but this only means that your sales/ income will also increase.
And yes, in the long run, an online business can be started even without employees and headquarters, but only with a mere storage space and with a professional website. The visitor of your website won’t feel this at all and will trust your product even if you’ve just started your online career!
DISADVANTAGE: Higher advertisement and delivery expenses
Well, things aren’t that good as they seem to be… If you’re thinking that opening an online business is easy and cheap, oh my, you’re very wrong! Nowadays, competition throughout the virtual market is bigger and bigger and the companies that activate in this market have learned to implement increasingly better online marketing strategies. If you want the online business you are going to start to flourish you must be prepared to invest enormous amounts of money in promotion and to implement a multiple-channel marketing strategy.
Also, the delivery costs are higher because, unlike a normal business where the product is most of the times taken by the customer itself, in an online business there is no such possibility, therefore the products can’t reach the customer than through a delivery company, which increases your sales costs.
The conclusion? YES, it’s worth investing in an online business! The virtual market is clearly the future and year by year it is continuously growing. Yet, if you want to open an online business, it is absolutely necessary for to understand not only the advantages but also the disadvantages of this type of business! If you want to build an online business you must be ready to invest considerable amounts of money in advertisement and study as much as possible HOW an online business works! Or, if you’re not willing to learn how it all works, I recommend you hiring someone that already knows all this – a professional, by all costs and means!
Therefore, you’re not online, you don’t exist!… But care to have a professional online presence if you dare choose this path!