Pros and Cons of Putting Your Business Online
The advancements in modern technology paved the way for brick and mortar shops to have virtual stores set up in online digital platforms. As such, more and more people are venturing out into putting up their own online businesses. While doing so has incredible advantages, it cannot be denied that setting up an online business also has certain drawbacks. To further delve into this matter, below are some of the pros and cons of putting your business online.
Pro: Lower Overhead Costs
One of the most significant advantages of putting up a business online is the lower overhead costs of starting up the business and running it. Generally, you don’t have to spend a hefty sum to set up your online business because at the very least, all you need is a domain name and host your website at an affordable subscription plan. In addition to this, you need to invest in a good computer or a laptop with the specifications you need to be able to deliver your products and services, alongside with a reputable and reliable internet connection. Once these are in place, your business is good to go.
This greatly eliminates all the necessary steps you have to take in order to put up a brick and mortar shop such as deciding on a location, making a blueprint, and starting construction. You also need not worry about the utilities you need in your business because with an online counterpart, you are free to work anywhere at your convenience, even in the comfort of your own home. Generally, running an online business doesn’t require you to hire numerous staff members, rather, people who can fill in the key roles are often sufficient to ensure a seamless business operation. All these can save you with a significant amount of overhead costs from starting your business to eventually running it.
Pro: More Brand Exposure
Another advantage of putting up an online business is that you get more brand exposure. An online shop has a greater chance of reaching a wider range of audience on a global scale compared to a brick and mortar shop which is often limited in marketing locally. Nowadays, people tend to refer to the internet when it comes to looking for products and services they need. If you have an online business with a strong digital presence, there is a great chance that people will easily find your brand during their search. There are also several digital marketing strategies in place that you can leverage on to ensure your relevance in the market and promote your products and services online.
Pro: Time Flexibility
In putting up an online business, you have greater time flexibility because you are not confined in a 9 to 5 schedule or operating hours. Rather, your store or shop can be open 24/7 through the help of certain software and applications bringing forth automation in your business processes. In this case, you can work around the available time that you have and leave the rest of the tasks to certain software applications suitable for your business. For instance, there are automatic scheduling tools that you can use to ensure that updated contents are posted on your website on a regular basis. There are also accounting programs that ensure that professional and accurate invoices are generated and sent to the correct recipients promptly, allowing no delays in terms of your payment collections. You can also use email services that automatically send promotions and deals to your subscribers. All these can greatly free up your schedule, allowing you to work on other tasks that require your attention upon your availability.
Pro: Ability to Scale
Entrepreneurs who are putting up businesses often have the goal of growing their business in the future. Embarking on a journey to set up an online shop may just yield this goal to be a reality because putting up an online business makes it easier for entrepreneurs to scale up. This is because an online business has the capability to accommodate a growing number of customers instantly compared to a brick and mortar shop. For instance, once your brand becomes popular and more and more people are looking for your products and services, you will be able to cater to their needs if you are running an online business because all you have to do is implement a certain software or program that will automate how you respond to your customers, how you ship the products, as well as how you track your inventories and payments.
Pro: Seamless Business Process
Putting up an online business paves the way for a seamless business process because of the availability of software tools that can be used for automation processes. These applications are often available from the marketing of your products and services, up to its delivery to your clients and customers. Not only this, but there are also software tools that allow you to collect data and track your operations to be presented in a report that you can use for business analysis. With viable data that you can use as your basis, you are ensured to make business decisions that support a seamless business process.
Pro: Convenient Customer Service
Because of technological innovations such as artificial intelligence, chat bots, and deep learning, those who set up online businesses experience a more convenient means of offering customer support to their clients. For instance, all their customer inquiries are responded to promptly if they have a chat bot that closely simulates how a human would respond to common questions. With an online business, there are also several means on how customers can reach you in case they have trouble in making a purchase on your site, or in case they are unsatisfied with the product or service they got. Emails, live chat, messaging, social media accounts, as well as a phone number and postal mail can all be made available for your customers through digital platforms. All these will allow you to render a superb customer service, with which your clients can rate and display on your site.
Pro: Greater Customization and Flexibility to Adapt
For a brick and mortar shop, the products offered to the customers are only those that are in stock. Once a product is unavailable, the customer needs to settle with another option. This is simply not the case for an online business because customers have every opportunity to choose the exact products they want to be shipped to them, even if with a certain delay because of its availability. Among the two customers, the latter will have greater satisfaction because they were able to obtain the exact item that they want to purchase. This greater customization capability level up an online business when compared to brick and mortar shops. In addition to this, an online business is more capable of adapting to the fast-paced changes in the market, without having to perform drastic changes in their set up and processes.
Con: Security and Fraud
One of the main disadvantages of putting up an online business is the risk of fraud and cybercrimes. Consumers in general are open to the risk of identity fraud every time they enter their personal details into your site in making a purchase. Because of this, you may need to exert an extra effort to win the trust and loyalty of your customers because if they feel that their personal information and sensitive data is not secure on your site, they may not proceed with their intended purchase, let alone navigate your page. Hence, you may need to integrate the latest security systems for secure online transactions.
On the other hand, you may run the risk of phishing or other forms of cyber-attacks which may compromise the functionality of your site, as well as your business data, including those of your customers. If you are leveraging on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, they may even suspend your account once it is compromised. Nevertheless, you can raise an appeal regarding your Amazon suspension to have your account reinstated within the next 24 hours. Your appeal needs to include a certain plan of action to ensure that this scenario will be avoided in the future. In case that your account is compromised, you may want to include adding a layer of security protection to your page to make it resilient against cyber-attacks.
Con: Saturated Market
Another disadvantage of putting your business online is the saturated market wherein there are numerous competitors, regardless of your business niche. To add to this difficulty, the online marketplace is filled with online consumers who no longer consider the retailer once they spot a certain sale or bargain deals. In this case, you may find it difficult to gain a fair share of the market, most especially in the beginning. You need to constantly enhance what sets your products and services apart from your competitors by thinking of innovative ways in promoting your brand, or pioneering the customization of your product in a certain way.
Con: Technical Issues
In running an online business, you will be faced with technical issues at one point in time. These technical issues can be related to your internet connectivity, website domain and host, or software and applications that you use. The technical issues you encounter may lead to your site being down for an indefinite period of time and during that time, you won’t have any sales coming in, significantly affecting your revenue. Thereby, you need to ensure that the host, domain, software, applications, or platforms you integrate into your site have available support systems to assist you in times of your need such as when you encounter these technical glitches.
On the other hand, your customers may find an unpleasant experience when navigating your site, particularly when the page takes a while to load, or when the layout is incomprehensible. It can also be that the overall checkout process of your site is too tedious for your customers, such that you have a relatively high rate of abandoned carts or incomplete checkouts. These technical issues within your site negatively impact your overall customer experience, thus, these should be addressed appropriately. Thus, ensure that your site easily loads, has a visually engaging layout with relevant content, employs a seamless checkout process, and integrates with secure payment options.
Con: Lack of Personal Interaction
In this modern day and age, there are still some consumers who look for a face-to-face interaction rather than buying online when they make a purchase. In particular, these are the consumers who are searching for a specialized product, such that they intend to consult with an expert before eventually making their purchase. This can be attributed to the fact that they feel a certain level of connection, trust, and relationship with the brand once they engage in a dialogue with someone who knows the product well. There are also instances wherein shoppers may want to experience the product before buying it such as when they shop for shoes and clothes. As a result, you may need to put in an extra effort and add a particular level of personal touch in your products and services when you are engaged in an online business. Not only this, but you also need to find a way to reassure your customers that your products and services are worth every penny they spend.
An online business can generate positive revenue for you since there is a great chance for you to reach a wider range of audience in terms of your target market. While this is true, you may initially find it challenging to gain a fair share of the market because the digital world is saturated with businesses that can be considered as your competitors. Thus, for every benefit that you can redeem from an online business, expect a certain drawback. However, the cons of putting up an online business often have a workaround solution so make sure that these don’t taunt you from achieving your goals.