The world has experienced a digital revolution in recent years, and the pandemic has served to accentuate it. A study by a national consultancy indicates that half of the companies increased online sales during the pandemic. COVID-19 accelerated a change that was brewing and, sooner or later, it was going to be definitive: businesses —companies in general— need to be present on the internet.
The data speaks
Digitization is a fact and, although COVID-19 has marked a peak in this trend, the truth is that it is not going to stop . A CaixaBank Research report points in this direction and says that, although the impact of online sales during the pandemic was especially profound in the months of total isolation and then fell, after the peak of confinement there were more online sales than before. everything will start This occurred as a result of the improvement of technological tools —partly due to force majeure— and new consumer habits, a new era is opening for ecommerce.
Physical, virtual or hybrid store
Now comes the big question. Is it better to have a physical store, an online store, both? It depends, of course, on which sector its owner is targeting. In principle, businesses that are only physical have a very short reach, unless we are talking about macro-companies and large franchises. Lately we see two trends in large corporations: one, to close businesses to gain online presence (cases like Zara or H&M, to give two examples); another, that of opening stores on the street by large companies that previously only operated through the Internet (as happened with Alibaba).
But an SME does not have the business structure of an emporium, so what is the best model for more than 90% of companies? Whether you have a physical store or not, these are the reasons why digitizing your business is necessary to grow:
The number of potential customers increases exponentially
It’s a drawer. A business that has a physical shop window facing the street will have the potential clientele of the neighbors who pass by there every day; one that is on the Internet opens up to an infinity of potential buyers who are going to get to know it through their digital device.
The sale of products and services wins if the business has an online version, whether or not it is the only one. Word of mouth is becoming more visible on social networks than face to face. Even with friends and family. Almost all of our tastes are communicated from the mobile, the tablet or the personal computer.
The infrastructure is minimal (and the costs, too)
If you have a physical store, you will need software to help you effectively manage this new sales model. The more complete and more intuitive, the better; this way you will save hours in training and understanding the new tools.
But if you want to sell your products or services and you don’t have a real space, it’s perfect too. At least to start until your business is hybrid (which is often not necessary). Think about the cost of having a virtual store (the cost of the software) compared to renting a place, electricity, water, internet… In other words, if you were thinking of setting up a store and the costs overwhelm you, an ecommerce is the best of options. Of course, it is important that you define well what your business model is, how much you are capable of producing, what delivery service to hire… In short, all those questions that must be asked before opening a new business.
You can sell at any time (and any day)
A physical store has business hours that must be adhered to: it normally closes at noon, again at 8:00 p.m. (or a little later if it is in a shopping center) and on weekends. But the Internet does not rest. How many times does a consumer want to purchase a product during hours when stores are not open? All that volume of business that is lost in the closures of the physical store will be maintained with the online version.
From selling in the neighborhood to doing it in… the whole country? The whole world?
Again imagine your physical store, if you have one. You can only sell to people who pass in front of the window (usually neighbors, occasionally passers-by who have a need). Well, with an ecommerce you can get… as far as you want. The entire national territory or, why not, all of Europe. Or the whole world. You will have to study the shipping costs well, but beyond that, the possibilities of opening up to the world are endless.
Automated tasks will allow you to focus on what is important
The wonderful thing about having a virtual store is that, with the right software, you forget about the accounting and management tasks and focus on what is fundamental: putting care and affection into what you know and like to do. Often the business of billing, orders, calculations, etc., steals precious time to spend on the creativity you need for your project. In Holded there is a perfect software for SMEs, efficient and intuitive, that does all those tedious tasks for you and leaves you the time you need for the rest.
You have the largest showcase in the world for you
And you can decorate it however you want. Choose an online store software (the best known are Shopify and PrestaShop ), find someone to design your website (or choose a pre-design from those offered by these developers) and get down to work. Your products, without missing one, will be visible to everyone, with the added advantage that you do not run the risk of customers handling the products and damaging or accidentally throwing them away. In addition, you are not limited by the space or location of the store: you can design it to your liking.
Your client will have all the information at a glance
This is another of the big differences. In a physical store, a customer will ask the price (if it is not very visible), the measurements, the material it is made of, how many colors do you have it… A virtual store can offer all this information at a glance, give the option to enlarge the image with an impeccable resolution, compare prices without constantly consulting the seller (which can be invasive and make you give up). And not only that: an online shopper can walk around the store without anyone asking what they want. That is also an added advantage when the visitor decides to buy.
The ability to grow your business is much greater
You have social networks to publicize your products or services ( Instagram is a wonderful platform for this), your own store, the ability to reach everywhere… Obviously, the possibility of your business growing is much greater than if it is only physical. Keep in mind that the Internet offers us possibilities, free or paid, to advertise our company. And that advertising sends traffic to the web, so more and more people will know you. From inside and outside the country.
And speaking of crossing borders, if you think of going outside national borders with your business, you have to take into account what name to give it, among other things. One simple to remember, powerful and that does not give rise to double meanings in other languages, for example. Although, if you have already thought about starting it up, there are a series of legal requirements that you must know to embark on your new adventure.
Of course, do not forget that a physical store and a virtual one are different
And consequently, they do not operate exactly the same. Actually, an online store, once you have understood the software it needs, is very simple to maintain. But it is not the same as the physical store. For example, when it comes to VAT. It is important that you know the current tax situation of Internet businesses, as they have undergone some changes. In our entry on the new VAT for electronic commerce, everything will be very clear.
You already know: whether or not you have a physical business, if you want to make it grow you need an online version. You dare?