By Maxym Martineau, GoDaddy, Copy Editor
Photo credit: Kevin Dooley
I hate waiting. I openly admit that patience is a tough virtue for me. So when I spy a chic pair of shoes online, the first thing I do is see whether or not I can find them in-store. I don’t mind ordering and waiting the three- to five-day shipping period for commonplace, non-immediate items (i.e., a bulk order of K-cups, cleaning supplies, cat litter). But when I’m ready to put an outfit together, I’m ready now.
Plus, there’s just something about actually holding a product. A blouse might look great online, but without seeing it in person I wouldn’t know it’s actually made of scratchy, second-rate material instead of the advertised silk. Yup, tangible pretty much always wins.
The good news is, if you’ve already got an online store, establishing a brick-and-mortar location can really boost your business. There are pros and cons to every venture, but here are some main highlights to consider when setting up a storefront.
Let’s start with the good.
The experience. As I mentioned above, physically touching a product can make a world of difference. The same can be said for going to a store. I don’t get a “hello” when I walk into a virtual shop, and online assistance is generally limited to impersonal FAQ. A little human interaction can go a long way.
Brand awareness. Have you ever Googled “cute blouse” on the internet only to be bombarded with options? It’s hard to stand out as an online boutique when the competition is so fierce. There’s unlimited potential for space, whereas there are a finite amount of locations for physical stores. Snagging one is guaranteed marketing for passerbys on the street, which could result in greater customer awareness — physically and virtually.
Feedback potential. It can be difficult to gather honest reviews online. People are busy; they forget to revisit the site and rate once they’ve received the product, or they simply don’t take the time. With physical customers, all you have to do is start a conversation (this plays into the experience factor I mentioned earlier). Which shirt do you prefer? What are you looking for today? Did you like those shoes? This kind of feedback can drive business and product-related decisions in the future.
Prep yourself for the tougher times associated with physical storefronts.
- Newfound expenses. Wages for staff. Property dues and rent. Inventory. The list goes on. If you’re not prepared to fork out some cash, then reconsider opening a physical storefront. Make sure you have the spending money ahead of time before blindly opening and then encountering this problem later.
- Location, location, location. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. As mentioned above, it’s great to have a physical representation of your brand. And yet, deciding on a physical property means settling down. The likelihood of working whenever you want, wherever you want, drastically decreases (especially with specific operating hours). You’ll have responsibilities as a store owner that you didn’t have before, and it’s your job to make sure that your business runs smoothly.
- Customers. Foot traffic is largely dependent on a number of things — time of day/week, advertised sales, seasonal shopping, etc. Some days will creep by with little action. Others will have you wishing for more inventory. But when you compare that to the consistent number of users on the internet — roughly three billion — it’s not even a drop in the bucket (which is why having both an online store and a physical store can be beneficial).
The decision is yours
Regardless of what route you decide to go, be sure to keep your short- and long-term business goals in mind. Still not sure if a storefront is the right move for you? Head on over to the GoDaddy Blog and take advantage of our handy worksheet to decide if you’re ready for a physical location.
About the Author:
Maxym Martineau is a copy editor and staff writer for GoDaddy. She’s an avid reader with an unhealthy addiction to Dr. Pepper and chocolate. She binge watches TV shows like there’s no tomorrow and is always up for a good plot discussion. You can follow her on Twitter @maxymmckayfor further shenanigans.