Human beings have a long established tradition of bartering and trading goods, one in exchange for the other. While the basics have retained the same over the centuries – you give something in order to get something – the means have evolved consistently. From the agora of Ancient Greece to the modern supermarket, and from high-end stores to online shops, people continue to engage in business in the opportunities of profitability and success.
If one was to divide the means of doing business today into two broad categories, they would be:
1. Brick and Mortar Businesses, and
2. Online Businesses
Brick and Mortar
The traditional way of conducting business – the brick and mortar way – can be considerably expensive and onerous to setup. It is highly essential to find a suitable location, if the business is to have any chance at succeeding, and such valuable locations are not inexpensive. Then there are the overhead costs, including taxes, utility bills, and inventory and labor costs.
– Perhaps the biggest advantage of a brick and mortar store compared to an online one is that it allows customers to touch, feel, and inspect a product physically, and at length, before they make the decision to purchase it.
– The internet provides a lot of opportunities for scams, and people have taken advantage of those. As such, you can offer your customers with peace of mind, a sense of trust, and reliability with a brick and mortar store.
– Find the right location, ideally in a heavy traffic area, and people just might walk in to your store – and end up becoming customers – without having experienced any of your marketing campaigns.
– As mentioned earlier, the startup and overhead costs of a brick and mortar store tend to be consider large.
– Once you put up that 'Closed' sign, business is primarily over until the next morning.
The more modern, and visual, way of doing business is relatively easier to setup. You may still need to do basically the same amount of work, such as market research and promotional campaigns, but the startup and overhead costs are only minimal.
– An online store can, and does, remain open and available for business around the clock, seven days a week, every single day of the year.
– If you've managed to create the right amount of noise, in the right places, you'll get more people visiting your small business than you could ever achieve with a brick and mortar store.
– There are no space limitations and no need for sales representatives. With a brick and mortar space, you'll probably run out of both if, say 50 customers walked in. With an online store, you serve thousands of visitors simultaneously.
– The biggest disadvantage of an online business, unlike a brick and mortar store, is that there is very limited interaction with the clientele, if any.
– It is remarkably easy to get distracted with an online store, as you would not be constrained by shelf space to display products. It is vital that you establish, and stick, to a niche for your small business.
Each of these, both traditional and modern, has its own advantages and disadvantages. And while you could discuss about which one is better until there is no tomorrow, they are both here to stay for the long term. If you can afford it, the ideal way to be successful would be to establish both a brick and mortar store, and an online shop for your small business.