Is online really going to outpace brick and mortar?
By Abigail Thorpe
If the COVID-19 crisis has taught small businesses anything, it’s that the ability to continue business despite temporary brick and mortar storefront closures is vital. Without an online presence, businesses are not only missing out on reaching potential customers, they’re forgoing the ability to make a profit.
While the majority of shoppers still prefer to shop in an actual brick and mortar store, the ease and accessibility of online shopping has driven online sales up year over year. In 2019 e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide, according to Statista. This number is expected to jump to 22 percent by 2023.
Fifty-six percent of Americans who shop online would prefer to shop in an actual store, but the reality is the majority of Americans have shopped—and will continue to shop—online. And the younger generations are even more prone to shopping online—67 percent of millennials prefer online shopping, as compared to 56 percent of generation x, 41 percent of baby boomers and 28 percent of seniors.
The future consumer is an online consumer, and the future of business is online—even for a brick and mortar store. Your company image is impacted by your online presence and visibility. Consumers are more likely to trust and shop at a business when they can find a good website that represents the business’s products and services. In fact, customers have come to expect it. A business without a website is handicapped in comparison to its competitors.
In addition to building trust and reaching new customers, an online presence allows the business to function 24/7, generating leads, answering customer questions, and driving business. Even if you are not physically in the store, customers can view products and services, find out more about the business through FAQ pages, how-tos, videos and webinars. You can target and reach more customers, no matter their location, and the best part is an online presence requires fairly low startup costs—much less than brick and mortar.
Moving your business online allows you to take advantage of key online marketing opportunities like email marketing, and it provides customers with the convenience and availability they’re seeking, regardless of what’s happening in your physical location. At the end of the day, if you’re not looking to bring your business online (even in addition to brick and mortar), you're limiting your future business capability and success.
Next week, we’ll talk more about how to know when it’s the right time to transition online, and the process you’ll need to take to make it happen. For now, reach out and let us know how we can get your business set up for success.