Offline vs Online: The Rise of E-Commerce and Demise of Brick and Mortar Businesses

Digital

The term E-Commerce should not be new to you.

While e-commerce is simply understood as a platform where goods and services are purchased and marketed online, sustaining an e-commerce website requires a combination of well-rounded knowledge in digital marketing, public relations and web design. Sustaining a business online is not as easy as it seems.

Regardless of the underlying obstacles, the industry is steadily growing. These days, countless brick and mortar businesses have decided to expand into e-commerce. In fact, going digital seems to be the trend nowadays for most retail businesses that want to sustain or boost their business growth. Unfortunately, the rise of e-commerce has had an inverse effect on brick and mortar businesses in Singapore. ASEAN Today even reported that Orchard Road, Singapore’s main shopping district, is “perishing”. Some businesses have even gone fully digital!

It seems like going digital is the safest way to keep your business afloat. In this post, we’ll share our insights on the retail-to-digital trend.

Online vs Retail: A Closer Analysis of the Pros and Cons of E-Commerce

Oberlo Singapore has thoroughly listed the pros and cons of starting an e-commerce website. Luckily for you, we’ve condensed the article and highlighted key benefits and problems that arise from e-commerce platforms.

Advantages

1. Operate at Low Costs

E-commerce platforms do not require a large office space. In fact, E-commerce business owners do not even need to pay rent! Furthermore, you can save on labour and equipment costs since e-commerce platforms do not require much manpower or equipment.

Physical Retail businesses, on the other hand, must cope with these costs.

E-commerce businesses, however, still require capital for SEO, PPC and app presence. Thus, online businesses do not operate on absolutely no costs at all.

2. Customers Worldwide

One major advantage of e-commerce is that you have customers across the globe. Since the internet connects you to almost every web user in the world, customers overseas can easily access your website.

In this sense, e-commerce businesses have a wider audience to cater to compared to that of brick and mortar businesses which are only accessible to a local audience.

3. Build your Brand Online through Extensive PR and Digital Marketing

These days, branding is easier done online. Gaining publicity and growing your brand presence could be done simply by engaging Social Media Influencers or crafting strong SEO-friendly content with the help of keywords. Furthermore, it’s also easier to track your company’s media coverage since you can easily access influencer and media content on the web!

Stores offline, however, are unfortunately restricted to their storage space. Furthermore, changing store logos and layouts might be costly and time-consuming.

4. Publicize to a Wider Audience at Fewer Costs

An e-commerce business can publicize and announce to a wide audience at a faster rate through mass emails and newsletters.

Unlike flyer distribution and word-of-the-mouth tactics used by physical retail companies, online advertising is faster and more cost-efficient.

Disadvantages

However, e-commerce is a double-edged sword. It has shortcomings too.

1. Reliance on Third-Party Suppliers

Going fully digital means that you’ll have to deliver the products to customers and engage in a reliable web host to sustain your e-commerce website.

First, long waits for shipment arrival is a problem all websites must cope with. Customers complain endlessly about having to wait “too long” for their products to arrive. This could have adverse effects on your customers’ experiences.

Second, finding a reliable and trustworthy web host is difficult too. Server crashes and websites that take too long to load can easily throw potential customers off. Thus, a reputable web host is a necessary investment with a hefty price tag for all e-commerce websites.

Physical retail stores, on the other hand, need not depend on third parties. They have greater control over the delivery of goods and services.

2. Tough to Preserve Good Rep

Negative reviews could severely deteriorate your online reputation. Worst, they leave a permanent black mark on your company’s portfolio. Sadly, online reviews are also becoming more trustable gauges of a company’s capabilities. Thus, it is increasingly difficult for e-commerce platforms to maintain their reputation.

Thankfully for retail stores, negative reviews are not cast in stone on any online platform. Thus, customer complaints are unlikely to severely affect any brick and mortar business.

3. Increasing Competition

It’s hard to stand out amongst other e-commerce websites that are selling similar goods and services. Diversifying your products could be a mind-boggling task to increase the competitiveness of your products. Still, it is necessary to keep afloat.

Fortunately for stores offline, choosing a strategic location is one easy way to boost sales and competition without extensive marketing or rebranding. It would be easy for a start-up to break into the industry by choosing a strategic location with high human traffic and fewer competitive firms.

Should You Set Up Your Own E-Commerce Website?

The short answer is: Why not?

However, bear in mind that stores online and offline have both profitable advantages and damaging shortcomings. While expanding into e-commerce is the trend now, it is difficult to maintain web presence amongst other e-commerce firms. Driving traffic and improving user experience through SEO are just two of the key measures each e-commerce firm must take to ensure they remain competitive. Essentially, starting an e-commerce website is a far cry from a walk in the park.

Regardless, if you do decide to venture into e-commerce, check out our helpful guide to writing persuasive content that will take your website to higher heights.