With more people than ever before setting up their own businesses it is important to get the foundations right and to know all of the options available to you. Having a business that is solely online and not in a store, at one time, may have sounded like a short coming but now it can actually put you ahead of the game.

 Costs will be significantly reduced

Let’s take into account all of the start-up costs that might be involved with a retail store. First of all think about how much it will cost you to rent your plot. If you’re intending to buy you may need planning permission for any renovations to your new store, there can be costs involved with this and then of course all of the building work. Once you’ve built the store of course it needs to be insured not only for you but for your customers. There may also be the costs involved in setting up the store front with signs and banners as well as training your customer facing staff and providing them with uniforms and branded equipment. Once you’re new store is all set up you might need security and storage and this is all before you think about the monthly running costs such as keeping your store all lit up to attract customers. These costs will be different depending on the industry and size of your business but if you run your business solely online your costs will certainly be significantly reduced.

 Niche markets can thrive

Being a niche business has both its pros and cons. On the one hand your product is something that only a select group of consumers are looking for, on the other they are willing to pay for quality and will be loyal to a brand. Being a niche business in a retail store can mean that you have hundreds of people passing your door every day who have no interest in your product. However being online means that only people who are looking for your product will find you. Particularly if you market your brand well, optimise your site and play to the strengths of the digital market, online can be the ultimate way for a niche business to flourish. David Cole, CEO of Pen Heaven, an online pen retailer, said: “The great thing about being online is that we can actually go out and find the people looking specifically for what we sell, so from a marketing perspective, setting up online worked perfectly for us. If you’re small and you want to succeed you’ve got to pick a niche so you stick out from larger companies, but even if you have a physical store on busy high street it can be difficult finding those looking for your product. Being online taps us directly into our customer base.”

It’s better for the customers

We’re all aware of how important it is to be online but when it comes to retailers it’s even more important as this is where the customers are. We’ve seen a surge in people shopping from the comfort of their own home, on their mobiles, laptops and tablets. More and more people are using these devices to shop on and compare prices, which means that they aren’t venturing on to the high street. By having your business solely online you’re also always going to be current. You can update stock and change your image at the click of a button and potentially be one step ahead of competitors. One of the biggest advantages of being online is that you have access to customer information you wouldn’t get in a store. This information is invaluable and it is important that you use it. Customer profiling will help you to understand your customers, their shopping habits and spot any new opportunities for sales. In short think of it as free market research.

 It’s convenient – for everyone

Trading online is convenient for both parties. You have the convenience of working from home or a small office without the need for a large store and should you need to you could even have flexible working hours. This may seem like you are putting your needs ahead of the business but it also means that for your customer your store is open 24/7. What could be more convenient than that?

 Your business can be International

And finally, your business can be as big as you want it to be. You are not confined by walls or square feet but can decide to have a local, national or international business. The potential reach of this customer base alone has to be big a reason you no longer need a physical store.

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