The Covid-19 pandemic not only caused us to panic-buy toilet paper but it also had a significant impact on our online shopping habits. Two in five people in the UK admitted to shopping more on the internet by March 2020 a figure that hid risen to almost 75 percent by February 2023.
It is this change in behaviour that makes it so important for your business to embrace the e-commerce age, stay on top of the latest technological advancements, and remain relevant in an ever-increasing digital world.
The infinite space on the internet has allowed companies to trade the world over, not to mention the benefits of 24/7 operations, the capability to work from anywhere, and a reduction in operation costs.
There is no need for change to be scary, change can – and indeed should – be embraced. Physical stores provide more visibility, offer immediate customer assistance, and negate the need for shipping costs.
Face-to-face interaction also offers an opportunity to target fresh audiences and educate those who may not be aware of your social media presence – a powerful marketing tool in the modern age to increase knowledge of your brand. So, should you move offline to improve your digital standing?
Walk through any town or city centre and you will see swathes of empty stores and the worn-down signs of former high-street giants. But in its place has been an increase in the number of pop-up stores.
As recently as 2019 it was estimated 82% of UK retail sales come from physical stores, and pop-up shops present digitally savvy businesses with the chance to use temporary retail space to showcase your brand to new customers. Moreover, they allow you the chance to create unique experiences for shoppers.
Consider renting temporary units if you are looking to engage over a longer period or why not display a single stand in a larger shopping centre? Additionally consider the benefits of having your products sold at big company stockists, which provides new eyes on your business, more brand awareness, and even the chance to grow internationally.
Consider using local social-media influencers and large displays to promote your temporary shops, or securing a small business loan to help set up your physical store.
The way consumers purchase products continues to evolve. Of course, some methods will survive; such as going to shopping centres or walking down bustling high streets. Online shopping will also continue to thrive.
But businesses are always exploring new ways to reach customers and the use of vending machines has been on the increase on UK high streets.
Most companies now use some form of automation and why should your business be any different? Vending machines are ideal for small and tangible packaged products that are not easily damaged.
An alternative or addition to pop-up stores, vending machines are easily transportable and dynamic.
When trying to exponentially grow your brand, sometimes the old but gold ways of marketing are the way to go. Sure, social media and online influencers are huge in the digital age but do not turn your back on more traditional, cost-effective methods one such way is the use of billboards.
Paper billboards are typically cheaper and more accessible, moreover, they remain on display 24 hours a day and seven days a week, giving daily commuters constant reminders of your business. When marketing your business do not overlook the benefits afforded by these old-school marketing methods.
Benefits of Moving Business Offline
Although it’s true that more and more businesses are jumping into the online world, there are still many great benefits to running a brick-and-mortar business. Here are the top four reasons why you should consider moving offline:
- Increased visibility: By having a physical storefront or presence in your local area, you’ll easily gain more visibility for your business. A physical location allows people to actually be able to shop with you on-site as opposed to online where they need to actually make the effort to search for your website and then take the time to order from it.
- Higher brand loyalty: Having physical stores also encourages customers to return visits and stay loyal because of its convenience; they don’t have to wait days before their package arrives via mail or go through complicated return processes if they don’t like what they bought online.
- Improved customer service: Shopping at a store allows customers to benefit from better customer service as staff members can provide personalized advice or assistance when assisting customers which is not possible if they solely operate online. This type of customer service is often key in increasing customer loyalty and building relationships with existing clients as well as new ones who enter the store.
- Increased in-store experience: When engaging in retail business, it is important for companies not only quality products but also engaging concept that makes shoppers want come back again repeatedly overall inspiring word of mouth marketing from their satisfied customers . Offline retailers can provide this experiential shopping culture which helps build up their branding by providing quality direct services that meet customers’ needs better than what an online platform can offer .
- Cash Flow: Offline businesses typically mean instant cash flow rather than waiting for customer payments online or relying on credit or loans for start-up capital and funding. Unless you expect a huge influx of customers from the start, having an upfront payment process is much more secure and creates a better cash flow from the beginning
If you are looking to start a business with low overhead costs, minimal staff, and the ability to reach a global customer base, then an online business is well worth considering.
However, if you prefer traditional retail sales or would like to have more control over the display of your products for potential customers, then setting up a physical shop can be a more suitable choice. Ultimately, the decision regarding whether to move your business offline will depend on your personal preferences and goals.