Monday, January 3, 2011

Differences Between Online Retail & Traditional Retail Businesses

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Often times, it is easy to overlook the differences between selling online through a shopping cart and retail selling through a brick and mortar storefront. Online retail is different from selling through a store in many ways and you should become familiar with the differences so you can better understand the many benefits of selling online compared to selling through a physical storefront. The obvious differences are the way the products are displayed to customers and the way in which they enter your store to browse around.

Main Differences Between Online Retail & Physical Storefronts

  • Display: By shopping at a brick and mortar store the customers are able to physically touch and handle items they are interested in buying. Online retailers are forced to display items using only pictures, graphics and text based product descriptions.
  • Expense: Typically, there are major differences in the amount of funding or startup capital needed to open the store. Brick and mortar stores usually require a bigger budget since you have to lease space, rent property and pay for other location expenses. Online store owners do not usually have to worry about building leases or property expense.
  • Location: Online retailers are not limited to one location and have no geographical boundaries like a traditional brick and mortar storefront has. Physical business locations can limit the amount of customer traffic and foot traffic from shoppers, especially if they are not in a bigger city or metro area. Online retailers have no limits and can typically service local, national and international customers.
  • Communication: It can be harder to communicate with customers through an online store compared to the face-to-face interaction customers get by shopping at a brick and mortar store or physical business location. Online retailers may have a hard time getting information across to the customer and must be sure to answer all possible buyer questions through text and graphics on the site so there is no confusion during the purchase.
  • Technology: Another main difference is the types and amount of technology needed to run each type of business. Most online store owners find that their technology is constantly changing and there is a bigger need for them to keep up and adjust as it improves. The technology used to run brick and mortar businesses has been around for years and rarely changes as often as it does in the online selling world.


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