When most people think about starting an eCommerce store, they get excited about the possibilities. We don’t blame them—eCommerce can seem, for many small business owners, like the answer to their dreams. While it’s true that online stores have benefits, they also present some unique challenges, and it’s important to be aware both sides before diving head in.
At Board Retailers Association, we believe retailers can be successful in a variety of ways, as long as they’re informed and make good choices. To help our members launch successful eCommerce businesses, we’ve rounded up a few pros and cons about going this route. Read them, consider them, and then make the choice that best for your business.
Pros of eCommerce
- You don’t need a physical store.
One of the refrains we hear when we’re buying a house or starting a business is, “Location, location, location.” And it’s true—if your store is on the wrong side of town or on an inconvenient street, it could cut down on customers. eCommerce stores, which live on the Internet, don’t have that problem. And while you do have to pay hosting fees for your website, they’re usually much cheaper than rent or a mortgage.
- You have access to a bigger market.
This is especially true for businesses that sell niche products, where their audience is already limited. When you have an eCommerce store, it’s easier to reach the people who will love your products, without worrying that your immediate city will be able to support you.
- You’re open for business 24/7.
In today’s world, people want what they want when they want it. Waiting until 9AM when your store opens isn’t always desirable or convenient. If, on the other hand, your customers are cruising the Internet late at night and something in your eCommerce store catches their eye, they can click a button and buy it—all while you’re sleeping on the job.
Cons of eCommerce
- The competition is fierce.
When you have a physical store you compete mainly with other local businesses—your neighbors, the mall, competitors down the street. Online, however, you’re competing with the whole world. It can be harder to stand out and hold your own when your customers have limitless options.
- It’s harder to establish awareness and trust.
When you own a physical store, you interact with your customers face-to-face, which allows you to build relationships and trust. This is much harder to do when you’re a nameless, faceless entity on the Internet. Building trust for eCommerce stores requires work, attention, and great customer service. If you’re not prepared to offer those things, your store will suffer.
- A good website is hard to find.
Setting up a website is easy. Setting up a good website is not. If you want customers to find your store, you need to be optimized for search engines. If you want them to buy your products, your store must be organized, easy to navigate, and fast. In fact, your eCommerce website will be your first and biggest investment, and, unlike a physical store, it’s probably not something you’ll be able to do by yourself. If you don’t like that lack of control, you might want to stick with what you know.
We hope this post helps clear up some of the misconceptions about eCommerce stores and makes you more confident in your business decisions. For more tips about retail, board sports, and marketing, make sure to like BRA on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.