You might think the difference between online and offline businesses is obvious, but if you’re starting a new business or looking to move your business from one to another, it’s important to understand the opportunities and possible pitfalls of each one.
In 2020, an offline business doesn’t mean a business that doesn’t have a website; on the contrary, it’s crucial for all businesses (online or offline) to have a functioning website that acts as a marketing tool. This helps you gain more visibility and attract more customers to your business. Try a simple website builder like Go Sitebuilder; you can have a website up and running in minutes just by uploading your images and content into our ready made professional web designs.
There are some businesses that thrive online and others that can only really be carried out on an offline basis, so let’s have a look at the differences between them.
An online business is one that carries out its services entirely online and gets its revenue from selling products and services that are either digital or shipped to the customer’s home.
An online business doesn’t adhere to opening hours, which means that customers can browse their products or services at any time. According to Workarea ecommerce research, the primetime for online shopping starts at 8 p.m. when the majority of physical shops are already closed.
Less expensive to establish and operate
Setting up an online business does require some capital, but only the amount you need to pay for a good quality website builder with an ecommerce platform. As it is always online and can take payments autonomously, you don’t need to hire extra staff to supervise the website.
Harder to gain trust and reputation
Competition is fierce in the ecommerce business world, and you need to find a way to stand out to your customers and persuade them that your products or services are superior. This means you need much more detailed product descriptions and multiple high quality product photos. It’s also vital to include reviews and testimonials so that potential customers can see that others have been happy with your services.
If you start your online business on a small local scale and it picks up traction quickly, growing your business can be fast and efficient. If you are online then you automatically have a global reach, so just by offering worldwide delivery you can exponentially increase your target audience.
An offline business either sells physical products in a store, or services that are limited to a geographical location. An electrician or a plumber, for example, has to travel to visit their customers’ homes in person, rather than offering online services.
A physical store will be limited to their opening hours, and will not be able to sell their products outside of this time, in the same way an electrician will have specific working hours. This limits the amount of revenue you can receive in a given time frame.
Easier to persuade customers to buy
Once you have a customer in your shop, you are much more likely to get them to buy something, in comparison to having a visitor searching on an ecommerce website. Sales are much easier to achieve with face to face interaction, and you are also helped by the fact the customer can physically touch and hold your product.
The way you interact with your customers will also help you gain a good reputation; if you are helpful and friendly, people are more likely to recommend you to others.
Easier to tap into local demand
If you are opening an offline business in your area, you understand exactly what people need and what the gap in the market is. If you are providing products or services that weren’t previously available in the area, then you are likely to start seeing revenue immediately, whereas it can take longer for an online business to gain a loyal following.
More expensive to set up and run
If you have a physical store, then you will have to factor in the price of renting and insuring a space, as well as paying for running costs such as utilities and staff salaries. If you visit other people’s houses to provide a service, then you will have to pay for your own transport. This can significantly add up, and you might have to raise your prices in order to ensure your offline business turns a profit.
Choosing whether to run an online or offline business depends on the amount of capital you have to start your company, and the type of product or service you provide. Regardless of which one you choose, you will need a website to either function as your online business, or to market and provide visibility for your offline business.
Go Sitebuilder is a simple website builder with ready to go templates tailored to your industry. We have an integrated ecommerce platform that allows you to easily sell your products with no limitations, and our responsive design means that potential customers can visit your website from any device. Try our 14-day free trial today and see where a website can take your business.