The digital space has seen an unprecedented growth since the birth of the World Wide Web in 1990. By 2020, 5 billion out of the 7 billion global citizens will be active internet users.
This high increase in internet adoption has enabled a technology-driven environment which has revolutionised the process of buying and selling via the internet so much so that 1.92 billion people are projected to make online purchase in 2019 alone.
While this is good news for ecommerce entrepreneurs, the critical question remains: what’s really influencing this shift in preference for online shopping to buying from brick-and-mortar stores?
This write-up seeks to explore some of the reasons for adoption of ecommerce..
1- Online stores are convenient and save time
The rat race nature of today’s life makes it difficult for a lot of people to leave work and attend to other pressing needs of life including shopping. The advent of ecommerce with its healthy dose of convenience has eliminated travel time. This convenience is relatively absent when it comes to brick-and-mortar stores. This is because customers would have to travel to the physical location of a store before they can complete the purchase unlike with an online shop. This means, customers who hitherto wouldn’t have made a purchase because they were avoiding travel hassle can now easily make a purchase from an online shop. It is not surprising that a survey by Continuum , confirms that the key motivating factor for the massive shift to online shopping is its convenience and not price.
Managing inventory is one of the inconveniences of owning a brick and mortar store. As an entrepreneur, you would have to always be mindful of the inventory of your store, to avoid the disappointment that comes with going out of stock, this can be time consuming. With an online shop, if a merchant uses the right ecommerce platform, inventory is done on your behalf. As orders are made and shipped, the online platform automatically updates the inventory without having to spend extra energy doing it. Time that is being saved with an automatic inventory management system, can be used to run other aspects of the business. One of such tools is the Kudobuzz Multichannel app.
2- It offers 24/7 service
Another related ecommerce benefit is that it allows for a 24/7 service. Have you ever raced a long distance to buy something from a store only to be told the store has been closed for the day or did not open at all? Even if you haven’t gone through such a bad experience, a lot of people have.
By 5 PM, many brick-and-mortar stores are closed for the day thus, restricting customers who do not close early from their offices the opportunity to buy what they want. Ecommerce entrepreneurs however are not bound by time zones and therefore have a limitless opportunity of selling their products at virtually every time be it day or night. Customers who are stalked in 8am — 5PM jobs too can conveniently do their shopping during break time at work, after work or even on weekends and holidays.
Offering this type of service does not only help build brand loyalty among buyers, but it also gives you an edge over competition.
3- Easy to outsource or hire virtual employees
Another advantage of ecommerce is that it allows ecommerce entrepreneurs the opportunity to hire talents from virtually every part of the world without hindrance — helping them to offer round-the-clock services to their customers.
A successful business also means finding and hiring the right people for the job. Brick-and-mortar stores are constrained by distance in their quest to hire the right human capital.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs on the other hand, are free to hire people from anywhere in the world.
Apart from getting talents from diverse background, remote hiring also allows entrepreneurs to save money which otherwise will go for building or renting spaces.
Employees can have enough rest and work from the comfort of their beds, thus, saving them from travelling long distances to work which sometimes kills productive hours because of traffic and other factors.
Every business aims at cutting cost and maximising returns. Therefore, hiring virtual employees, means ecommerce entrepreneurs can hire from geographical locations where cost of labour is very cheap thereby saving cost.
4- It breaks all geographical barriers
Brick-and-mortar stores are bound by specific physical geographic space, thus, limiting scalability and constraining brand from reaching audiences globally. This obviously affects volumes of revenue inflows and the growth of the company.
Ecommerce entrepreneurs on the other hand, have an added advantage of expanding their customer reach to any part of the globe. With reliable internet connection, customers can make orders for products conveniently from any geographical location with just a click. It does all these things beautifully while saving your business cost incurred on middlemen in the process of buying and shipping products. Ecommerce entrepreneurs therefore have a better opportunity to increase sales in many folds.
Even though sometimes customers have to bare extra cost such as shipping fees, it is relatively cheaper compared to brick-and-mortar shops where customers have to spend limited resources on air tickets, hotel accommodation etc.
5- It offers free ads through effective SEO
Advertising on any medium can be very expensive. Ad budgets are eating a huge chuck of companies budgets. A survey by Gartner Research showed that “larger companies (>$5 billion revenue) spend 13% of revenue on marketing, while smaller companies ($250 million to $500 million revenue) spend roughly 10% of annual revenue.”
If you’re operating a physical store, you will have to do plenty of ads to drive customers to your store, but if you have an online store, you can take advantage of SEO to do it. This is because 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they are about to make in-store and 45 percent read reviews before making a purchase.
6-Easy to compare prices of products
Customers always want the best deals when it comes to taking purchasing decisions and price is one of the most important factors affecting these decisions.
With brick-and-mortar shops, customers would have to hop from one store to another to compare prices for the best deals. And so even if your store offers the best deals, potential customers are not aware because they find it challenging hopping from one store to the other looking for cool deals.
With ecommerce, customers find it easier to make price comparisons, get more insights about products or choose between similar brand offerings based on online research and reviews. No wonder 71 percent of online shoppers believe they’ll get a better deal online than in brick & mortar stores.
Your online store with the best deals can easily be discovered in this price comparison research and lead to more sales.
7- Easier to encourage impulse buying
Brick and mortar stores have limited opportunity to encourage impulse buying when it comes to influencing buying decisions. This is because, customers would have to go to the physical stores before they can be enticed to buy a product.
Online businesses have more opportunity to showcase their brand to more people. As more people come across a product on the internet channels it will promote impulse buying. Example, someone can come across a nice product while browsing through a facebook page and impulsively decide to buy the product.
Just like any sphere of life, ecommerce is not entirely perfect. It has its own challenges such as its inability to give personal touch to customers at the pre-purchasing stage which sometimes put customers on a fix of not being sure about the quality of a product and also the challenge of late delivery.
Despite these challenges, advantages of ecommerce far outstrip its negatives. It has simplified buying and selling with its convenience. It also encourages impulse buying, helps customers to compare prices,offers free advertising opportunity to merchants through SEO and also makes it easier for merchants to expand their business globally.
If there is any time to consider moving your shop online, the time is now.