start a business online or offline

If you’re involved with or own a start-up business, there are so many things you need to put in place in order to get started. Office space, computing, a communication infrastructure, furniture, a company vehicle and even stationery are all necessary, but then there’s the question of working out where you want to sell your products and/or services.

Until the internet was created and grew to such an extent that living without it has proved almost impossible, businesses had to set up shop in an actual office space, warehouse or retail unit. Thankfully, many start-ups can choose either to operate the old-fashioned way or run an online business, while some firms dabble in both. Here are the pros and cons of offline and online business:

Offline business

  • Best for companies selling physical products, especially perishable ones like food and drink
  • Useful for building up a customer base in the local community
  • Without multiple outlets, it’s unlikely that your business will build up a wider customer base
  • Perfect for connecting with local people and meeting customers face-to-face
  • In the current economic climate, achieving success on the high street is tricky judging by failures of major chains

Online business

  • Fewer fixed costs for shop rental and office space
  • Useful for building up wide customer base
  • Better for offering services as opposed to products, especially where delivery is concerned
  • Important to consider if the local community isn’t large enough to generate sufficient sales
  • Cheaper to run

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but for anyone who may feel a little tempted to get into business for the first time, starting online might be the best possible option. The lower costs involved as well as the growth in online retail makes it the more palatable for many aspirational start-up enterprises.

Clicking on to checking out

Some businesses that started out as online-only have managed to move towards offline retail, achieving some success in doing so. A prime example of how this is possible comes from ecigarettedirect.co.uk, who recently opened up a store in the Welsh town of Neath. The store has managed to generate significant sales and provide welcome job opportunities to local people.

A larger number of offline businesses have proven that it’s just as doable to make the transition from shops to ecommerce with little fuss. Typically, larger chain stores are among those best placed to move from offline to online retail.

Back in 1999, supermarket giant Tesco were the first in their market to take advantage of online retail. Several years later, some of their main rivals including Asda and Sainsbury’s have caught up, but the fact that they were following Tesco’s lead shows how integral ecommerce is to their success.

While starting online is the best choice, it’s possible to follow in the footsteps of Tesco. However, it will require a great amount of resources (both financial and physical) to make it happen, plus there might be a lengthy wait before your business has the necessary money to be equally strong in ecommerce and conventional retail.