How Does ECommerce Compare To Traditional Retail Stores?
There are some differences in the battle of e-commerce versus traditional retail stores. The first and perhaps most important one is, of course, the matter of space. A traditional retail store needs a storefront on a piece of real estate. In addition to being legitimately rented out, brick and mortar retail stores must also maintain a number of building codes that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, including things such as emergency exits and proper plumbing. While this can and often is a hassle, many people do in fact prefer retail storefronts, whether they want to support businesses local to their community, wish to purchase with hard cash or the product they’re buying is best examined before purchase, such as shoes, used books or furniture.
Brick and mortar retail stores are also somewhat difficult to set up. Also, to planning for losses due to shoplifting and other forms of theft, brick and mortar stores must be designed to get merchandise in front of the customer base and then allow those customers to find easily what they want and then, with even more ease, purchase their goods from a cashier. This can be relatively simple for a small store with a specialized focus, such as comics or pharmaceuticals, but some businesses may call for a larger storefront. Further, real world store fronts must properly staff by employees, who in turn need salaries consistent with local regulations for employment standards. This can get rather expensive, but a good retail worker who is patient and knowledgeable can transform a frustrating shopping experience into a more bearable task and can make some shopping experiences downright pleasant.
However, e-commerce storefronts are considerably easier, or, at least, cheaper, to set up. While they are not entirely free, hosting for an online storefront is much less expensive than a retail outlet of any size. Affording an online storefront and designing a good online storefront are two very different things. Online storefronts need to be categorized, arranged, cross index and laced with search tags, on top of installing a good search engine inside the store front. This can be an enormous hassle, on top of creating the visuals any store front needs to give customers an idea of what they’re buying without being too hard on the eyes. A web designer, even an amateur, can be incredibly helpful in design an e-commerce outlet.
While many functions of stores are automatic in online storefronts, other functions must be fulfilled by real people. Customers must have someone to go to when their orders do not arrive, and when the server for the storefront shuts down, only a real person with technical know how can properly restore it. A web master or mistress runs an online storefront and getting a good one is vital for any business that wishes to retail in cyberspace. Additionally, getting merchandise to customers requires people to prepare properly and send shipments to shipping companies to be delivered directly to the customer base, which can very quickly become a full-time job.