A retail store was a physical building made of bricks and mortar. Today, they are known more as a store you can walk into or a store you can see on the street.
As technology got better, we could make things like plywood and other building materials. But the name stuck, and any store with bricks and mortar is still called that today.
Now that you can start your own online business thanks to the internet, do you still need to build a store?
What are the pros and cons of a store and what makes it different from an online store?
Before we talk about that, I want to tell you why you should think about an online store instead of any other kind of store. You need to know why things are changing.
Have you heard about the end of retail?
Already in 2023, thousands of stores have closed. What’s going on here? The retail store business is dying because more and more people are opening online stores and dropshipping stores.
How bad is this? Well, it might be if you want to open a store, but the truth is that times are changing and people need to keep up.
Can you still make money with a store that sells things in person? Sure you can! But you are more likely to fail if you don’t sell online as well.
To sum up this situation, I think it will be like going to a video store all over again. Retail stores will have a hard time staying in business if they don’t sell online and build an online ecommerce store.
Stores vs. online shopping
Aside from how they look, there are other things that make the success and failure of these two stores different. Many experts say that 90% of brick-and-mortar businesses fail in the first five years, so you should think carefully before opening one.
This is what you need to know before starting an online business with a physical store or an online store.
In order to be a store, a physical store needs land. You can own, rent, or lease this land. On the other hand, an online store doesn’t need land. Instead, it needs an online domain, which can be bought for as little as $10.
If you have a physical store, you can only do business there, unless you also have other locations in other cities. Online, you can sell to anyone in the world.
There are also limits to the store itself. This means you can’t do business anywhere else unless you build more stores or, in some cases, get a permit.
People who have credit or debit cards or an e-wallet like PayPal or Skrill are pretty much the only ones who can do business online. In the real world, you rarely see online wallets as a way to pay, and most people prefer to use cash or credit cards instead.
If you have a store, you would also need to call your bank and set up a merchant account. That’s not really the same online. You could sign up with someone like Stripe and start right away.
To get paid through an online store, you need a payment processor. If you are taking credit card payments in person, you only need a credit card terminal, which you can get from a bank if you have a business account with them.
Marketing a real-world store is harder than marketing an online store. When you sell things in person, customers need to find out where you are and then come to you. To get someone to get off the couch and try your products, you need to be able to make a good impression.
With an online store, your products are just a click away, and it’s easier to get people to visit your website since they have nothing to lose. In the real world, to get to your store, a person has to spend time traveling and money on gas.
Customers will lose interest in your brick-and-mortar store over time, which will cost you a lot of sales, so you need to spend more on advertising to remind them to come see you.
The customer has nothing to lose when shopping online. He only has to click on your ad and look at your products. This means that if you have an online business, you are less likely to spend money on advertising and marketing and get better results.
Helping out customers
The best thing about physical stores is that the store clerks can talk to customers in person. This gives your staff a chance to make customers feel special, answer their questions, and give them high-quality service. The only problem is that hiring full-time workers costs a lot of money.
The customer is on his own with e-commerce stores. He has to look around your store, and no one is there to help him if he has any questions. Even if you have live support, a personal touch is still better.
Most of the time, a customer has to wait 24 hours for simple information like a product’s size. If you forgot to include this in the product details, the customer might start looking elsewhere.
In a real store, the workers can give you an answer right away.
Both types of stores have costs, and here you can decide which one has the least overleads.
Costs for a storefront
- Rent or lease plus property taxes
- Utilities like water, gas, and electricity
- Pay your cashier, staff in charge of facilities, staff in charge of stock and inventory, and customer service staff.
- Shelves, decorations, lights, and other hardware make up furniture.
- Other office needs, like paper receipts, plastic or paper bags, and a point-of-sale machine.
- Marketing expenses
Online Store Expenses
- Shipping and packaging costs, like the cost of boxes and gas to get to the carrier
- Costs you don’t want to pay for product returns if it broke in transit
- Marketing expenses
- Hosting sites for websites
- Payroll for the people who keep your website up to date, if there are any.
As you can see, running a store with bricks and mortar costs more money. But you should think carefully about whether you can turn your store into an online store or have both.
With mobile traffic, you can make more sales.
Traditional marketing methods aren’t as effective as they used to be now that almost everyone has a smart phone. This is because traditional marketing methods worked better when there was no internet.
Even if a business doesn’t have an online store, it still needs to be online. Usually, you will see this in businesses that are in the restaurant business. You can’t run a restaurant entirely online, but you do need to be online.
Here are some suggestions for how you can use mobile technology to boost your sales in person.
Today, it’s easy to let people from nearby cities know that you’re here and that you exist by sending them photos of your store and the products you sell.
You can’t do this if you don’t have a website. You can make your online store, which is more of a brand than a store, by making a website or a social media account.
Most brick-and-mortar stores that can ship items also have an online store. The store may have a way to process orders, and it will send the product to the customer either by shipping or by giving it to them in person.
This is something restaurants always do. Customers can order through apps, and the food will be brought to their offices or homes. So, what I’m trying to say is that you can make more sales if you build or use apps with your store.
A social media page is great for a store that is only open in person and doesn’t ship or deliver. Basically, the social media page will be used to attract customers, get likes and followers, and run contests to get more and more people to come to your physical location.
Advertise in your area
You can get the word out about your store online through social media or Google. If you advertise with the right keywords, Google will show your ad when someone from that area searches for your chosen keyword.
Let’s say that your business is a pasta place in San Francisco. If you advertise on Google, you can use the words “pasta” and “San Francisco” as keywords, and when someone searches for “pasta restaurant in San Francisco,” Google will show them your restaurant.
If someone in San Francisco types “pasta” into the Google search engine, Google can also show them results.
If you do this, you will give yourself a chance to be at the top of the search pages and become more visible to customers who don’t even know who you are. This is a great way to advertise if you want to reach out to tourists or people from nearby cities.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and others work in the same way. Just keep in mind that Google is best for paid searches, which means you pay if someone searches for a product like yours.
Paid social is a way to market on Facebook or other social media sites. This means that people who might be interested in your product will see your ads even if they didn’t search for them.
All of this can be set up with a smart phone, which will bring people to your store.
Make an online gallery.
Making your own online showroom is one way to get more people to buy from your business. This is true in almost every industry, and you don’t have to ship your products if you don’t want to.
Most people do this on a laptop, which is what I suggest you do as well. However, you can share the showroom and make changes to it using your phone.
In an online showroom, the customer can see what products are available and, if possible, how much they cost. We do this with Shopify.
As we’ve already talked about, people who see ads for brick-and-mortar stores may not act for the following reasons:
- They worry that the goods won’t be worth it.
- They have no idea what the store will be like.
- They don’t know how much it costs, so they might think it’s too much.
- They don’t want to go to the store just to be let down.
Customers will feel more confident in what you sell if you have a showroom. They are more likely to come to your real store because the pictures look great, they know how much the products cost, and they know what you sell.
You can use social media or build an online showroom in your store. Facebook lets you make a page where you can put a list of the things you’re selling.
You don’t have to add all of your items if you have a lot of them. What’s important is that people who visit your website get a sense of what your store is like.
Pros and Cons of a Store with Real Items
Many business owners’ dreams come true when they open their own store. A brick and mortar makes you feel like you’ve done something good. It makes you feel like a real businessperson, not just someone trying out an online business that might or might not work.
With a physical store, you won’t feel like a beginner who is just trying things out to see what works. It’s a serious business that needs a lot of money and planning.
But like everything else, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some good things about a real store.
The Best and Trust
A store that you can walk into is much more reliable than an online store. People know where to find you because you are a real person. They know you are a real business and not a con artist who will take their money and run.
People will think that your products are much better than those in online stores if you have a physical store. This is because you spent a lot of money to open your business, which means you won’t skimp on product quality. People know that online sellers will sell anything, and that the items they sell are usually of good quality and cheap.
Service right away
There is no long wait time for service in a real store. The product doesn’t need to be shipped, and the customer can use it in your store or at home. Also, the customer doesn’t have to use online chat, call, or wait for an email to be answered.
In a real store, there are people working there who can answer questions right away. If they need extra services, like special delivery for bulk items, they will also get first-class service.
Goods are real things.
In a real store, the customer can see for themselves how good the products are. They can touch it and even try it out. It is not possible to do this online.
Even though pictures look good, many people are disappointed when they get the product because it doesn’t look like the picture.
When people shop online, they can buy the wrong size. In a real store, they can try it out, feel the texture, watch a demo, and do a lot more. If they buy something in a brick-and-mortar store, they probably won’t return it unless it’s of poor quality and breaks while it’s still under warranty.
Also, most online companies that ship things may send the wrong thing. This is a big problem that will cost a lot to fix. In a real store, this is not likely to happen because the customer can check the contents of the package before leaving the store.
When you shop online, you are by yourself. The customer is all by himself and has no one to talk to. In a real store, a person can go shopping with a friend, ask for his opinion, or bring his whole family.
The customer can also talk to the staff, joke around, and have a good time. In an online store, this could never happen. People are social animals, so many of them would rather go to a store to meet people than look for things to buy online.
Contact with the customer
Online, there isn’t much or any personal connection. It’s too hard. In the real world, you can talk to customers and learn their names, the names of their children, and a lot more.
A brick-and-mortar store is different because of this kind of experience. You can figure out what their problems are, make suggestions, talk to their kids and offer the best toys, try to sell them something extra and try to get them to buy, and so much more.
No shipping and coming back
Rarely do people return things they bought in a store. It does happen sometimes, but not nearly as often as in online stores.
The cost of a return hurts your bank account. The customer has to send the item back, and then you have to give the customer their money back. You have to pay back the money you already spent on shipping the item to him, which means you lose this money. You can no longer get that money back.
When you buy something in person, there is no shipping fee. The customer has to come back to your store and get his money back. So far, you’ve only lost the money you put into that product, but the shipping cost hasn’t gone up yet.
Online thieves can’t get in.
Payment processors make it possible for online stores to work. These things can sometimes be broken into.
And if you are unlucky enough to be a victim, you will lose your money, and it is unlikely that the payment processing company will even pay you.
Here are some things you should think about before opening a real store.
Big capital required
You need tens of thousands of dollars to open a brick-and-mortar store. You have to pay for building, tools, furniture, and a lot more.
Even if you rent a place that is already built, you still have to pay for construction because you have to change it to fit your business.
On top of the cost of building, you also have to pay for your inventory. You need to buy a lot of them and put them away. If you don’t have enough room, you might have to rent a warehouse.
High in the sky
A rent is usually paid by a store with walls and floors. If not, you have to pay rent. Only if you own the place can you do this.
Still, you will still have to pay for things like electricity, water, gas, heating, and so much more every month. You also have to pay the salaries of the people who work for you. In a physical store, you need more workers to be able to help more customers.
Tiring to manage
A real store needs to be watched over all the time. Your time will be taken up by this. If you run one, you have to be there to make sure the quality isn’t lowered.
If you own a physical store, you have to be there and take part. This is a big sacrifice, and the only way to avoid it is to hire an honest manager who can run the business while you are away.
How to Make Your Physical Building Stand Out
You should already know that the only people who will bother to come see you are those who happen to walk or drive by. Because of this, you are limiting the ways you can increase your sales.
Here are some ways to make your physical store stand out and be much more appealing to customers.
Set up events
People like events a lot. Life is much more interesting when things happen, and people will always want to have fun. A year is full of chances to put on events, and all you have to do to get people interested is use holidays and national holidays.
Here are some examples.
- Valentine’s Day
When planning events, keep in mind that you want to get people into the holiday spirit. Use the right themes to decorate your store. This makes people want to visit so they can take selfies and post them on social media.
In addition to making sales, people who have been to your store give you free advertising.
Make deals and promotions.
People love getting deals. Offer deals that people can only get if they visit your store in person. This will get people to come to your store.
Here are some examples of ads that people really like.
- Buy 1 take 1 free
- Bulk order discounts
- Up to a certain percentage off a single item
- Free stuff if you made a certain amount of purchases
Make sure you don’t lose money when you offer discounts. The key is to raise your prices high enough so that even if you offer discounts, you still make money.
Create a Unique Experience
You can do this in many ways. The first is to make sure your store is comfortable enough so that customers don’t get nervous.
Decor is something else. If the interior design of your store is great, you can be sure that customers will love it and tell their friends and family about it.
If you run a restaurant, you might want to think about adding a drive-thru. People don’t have to wait in line for this kind of service.
You can also offer a pick-up service where a customer can place an order over the phone and then just pick up the item and pay later.
Many people like this because they don’t like having to pick out their own products or wait while they are being prepared and packed.
Make a plan to motivate people.
This is something you can do for both your customers and your employees. If you run a store where the staff has to make a sale, giving them a commission is a great way to boost your sales.
You see, if the staff has a commission, they will be much more likely to give good service. They will do whatever they can to get a customer to buy, because they know that selling the product will give them extra money on top of what they already get paid.
When it comes to customers, you can also give them something extra if they stick with you. You can give them loyalty cards that let them get free stuff or big discounts if they meet certain conditions.
Every time you visit, you can put a sticker on the card as long as you spend at least a certain amount. On the fifth visit, the tenth visit, and so on, you can give a big discount or a free item.
This strategy works because the customer has to come back to get the discount or extra time.
And if he does, you will have to move your stock. You get repeat sales, and if the product is good, this customer might bring a friend with them.
If a friend comes home with you, you get more sales from that friend, and you can then give that friend a loyalty card.
Should you open a real-world store?
It’s not easy to answer this question. The best thing we can do is give you some rules to help you decide if a physical store is the best kind of business for you to run.
You should go to a brick-and-mortar store if:
- You have a lot of money you can put at risk on the business.
- You don’t mind losing money on items that didn’t sell.
- You already have some business experience, even if it wasn’t as a manager.
- You have a product that sells best in a certain place.
- You know how to run things and deal with people.
You shouldn’t choose a store with walls and floors if:
- You have no capital
- You don’t like people or don’t know how to deal with them.
- You don’t want to spend money on things that don’t sell.
- You’ve never had a job before and don’t know how things work in your field.
- You don’t have anything that will make your brand stand out.
Having a real store is a huge step forward. Many people can’t even imagine putting one up. If you don’t have much money, you can ask your friends and family to put money into your business.
But if the business doesn’t work out, you might have trouble getting along with the people whose money you lost.
A physical store needs more planning than an online store. It is also much more expensive to build because you need engineers, architects, and interior designers.
Before you build a store, give it some thought. If you can, try renting a small space and seeing how the market responds.
Test the product to see if there is a market for it, and as you go along, learn from your mistakes. If you don’t have any experience yet, building a big one right away will only make it more likely that you will fail.
Think before you act, and plan carefully, even if it takes years.+