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Bricks VS Clicks: The importance of E-commerce

Published: 24/08/2016
Last Updated: 24/08/2016

‘Should I set up a physical retail store or just rely on selling my brand through e-commerce?’ A common question asked by many people who run their own business. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer. Both avenues have positives and negatives and tailor towards different businesses. If you are looking to expand your business by setting up an e-commerce Website or a physical ‘brick’ store, then continue reading!     

A ‘brick’, or physical store is the traditional method of shopping. Many people still favour physical stores and therefore by owning one, you have access to a large portion of the market. Bricks also offer customers a face to face interaction with staff and allows them to experience a hands on approach with the products on offer. This is advantageous to both the consumer and the business owner as people are sometimes more likely to purchase something they have tried and tested in person as opposed to online. Many brick stores are also more favourable to those who don’t own a computer and do not have access to the Internet as these people rely on their local shops and business to buy their goods.

The main factor that puts people off owning a ‘brick’ store is the price tag. Having a physical shop automatically increases overheads as you have to factor in costs such as rent, staff wages, and electricity bills etc. Owners also have to consider trading hours as many stores are only open from 9-5 meaning this is the only chance you have to sell your goods and make money. Depending on location, many customers will only shop during specific times and therefore in the winter, profit may be lower as less people are willing to come outside and shop.   

Online shops known as ‘clicks’ are the modern way of shopping and have become a very popular system for new business start-ups looking to sell their goods online. One of the major benefits online stores offer is low cost. Whilst producing a Website does require investment, the end figure is no way near as high as a physical store, so having an online store automatically reduces your businesses outgoings. Online stores are also active 24/7, 365 days a year. This allows customers to buy products whenever they want, wherever they want and also means that the business is constantly making money as opposed to brick stores that have set trading hours.

Although online stores pretty much run themselves, they still require constant maintenance and updating. A lot of time needs to be spent on uploading products, improving SEO (Search engine optimisation) and also responding to customer queries. For people who struggle with technology and Websites in general, this could be a big challenge. Many people are also put off by the fact that their entire business is running from a Website. Although it is a rare occurrence, Websites can encounter issues and in the worst case scenario go offline. This is usually fixed within a matter of minutes by the Website hosting company, but could still cause a loss in customers and profit.

Overall, both bricks and clicks have equal advantages and disadvantages. E-commerce is a fast growing market and it’s certainly the way forward. But ‘bricks’ still appeal to many people and certainly haven’t fizzled out just yet (and won’t for a long time). To be the most effective business and appeal to a mass audience, we recommend branching out to both markets. This way you are appealing to customers who enjoy the traditional method of shopping on the high street but also catering for people who are wanting to shop in the comfort of their own home via the Internet. Deciding which store is right for your business depends on your overall goal. But if you have the option to, we highly recommend trying out both options to see which works best for you.