Questions you may be asking
- As a start-up, should I go for a high-street outlet, or should I just start online?
- How easy is it to adapt my high-street shop to an online shop?
- Should I consider closing my high-street shop and moving everything online?
- Will I need additional resources / staff / infrastructure to sell online?
The reason you are visiting our site indicates you have an interest in either starting, or developing, an online retail venture – so even if you have never sold anything in a “retail” sense – or if you have a long-established high-street shop, you now need to look at whether “going online” is right for you or not.
The short answer is: You cannot ignore the growth in online selling, and the steady decline of high-street retail.
Online selling is increasing very rapidly, but in terms of overall retail sales in the UK, it only accounts for about 11% of total retail sales.
There are many reasons why the high-street retail sector has been in the doldrums in recent years – most of these are related to the general economic climate since 2009, sluggish consumer spending as a result, and very heavy competition in almost all consumer retail sectors which is driving many prices down.
But both the migration to – and impact of – online selling cannot be ignored as a growing threat to traditional retailing. In most cases, existing traditional retailers, and those aspiring to enter the retail world, must now seriously consider selling online either as PART or ALL of their retail operations.
For those retailers (particularly independent operators) who are already operating a “high-street” (or bricks n mortar) shop, the move to online is probably more of an imperative than it is for larger retail chains, who have a strong presence on the high-street. Much will also depend on local or regional factors, such as footfall rates, the “desirability” of the local high-street as a shopping precinct, the nature and extent of local competition, what is being sold, customer loyalty and the sustainable profitability of any individual establishment.
Again, research and experience will give you pointers as to whether bricks n mortar are more favourable to you than online, or whether a “strategic mix” of both is worth considering.
Pro’s – and Con’s
For starters, an online shop can be open all day and all night – everyday. Your customers can be anywhere (depending on any geo-location restrictions you may configure in the programming). Being online vastly widens your market reach, and your accessibility to customers.
It’s “relatively easy” to set up an online shop – and compared to setting up a bricks n mortar equivalent, probably much cheaper. Your costs will be mostly in building and maintaining the website, making sure you have sufficient stock (or at least quick access to suppliers who can get stock to you at short notice), and having reliable and secure ways of taking payments, and of course, the practical infrastructure of getting products to customers once they have made a purchase (the logistics).