The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Business In 2021 – Online Business or also known as electronic Business or e-business refers to any kind of business such as product selling, services, and advertising across the internet.
E-commerce or the online market has reshaped the modern marketplace over the last few years. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses now prefer to do the online way. However, there are points of considerations such as the advantages and disadvantages of doing business online that a business owner must prepare.
Ben Wakeling of Bizfluent enumerated some of the pros and cons below:
The main advantage of having an online business is the cost difference when compared to setting up a traditional office-based company. While there are fees associated with securing a domain and setting up a website, these are minimal in comparison to leasing and maintaining physical premises.
Reduced Staff Requirements
Whereas in a physical retail outlet the owner would need to recruit a number of sales staff, with an online business a lot of the work is carried out automatically. For example, purchasing an item online does not require a cashier to take payment: a purchaser simply enters his or her card details and the item is paid for within minutes.
With an online business is that you can market your company on a global scale, reaching potential customers in other countries and continents. You will need to have systems in place in order to dispatch your goods or services to these far-away locations, however. Nevertheless, whereas a physical business can only advertise to customers in a local area, having an online business means you can expose your company to a large number of potential customers.
Having an online presence does, however, mean that you are surrounded by other businesses within your industry, all desperate to expose their company to a wide audience. As a result, your business may become lost in a sea of similar companies, in which case you will need to discover a product or element to your firm that gives you an edge over your competitors.
Lack of Interaction
With a physical presence staff members can interact with customers face to face. This can impress the purchaser and prompt them to share their positive experiences with others. Some purchasers may simply prefer face-to-face interaction, as opposed to purchasing their goods online. You may struggle to develop a meaningful relationship with a purchaser when you operate an online business.
If a customer purchases an item from a physical store, only to later discover it is faulty, they can return the product to the store for an exchange or refund by means of a relatively easy process. However, if an online purchaser finds that their goods are faulty, it could be several days until the issue is rectified, especially if you have no customer care system in operation. You will need to implement a structured policy and system for refunding faulty goods to avoid customer frustration.
You could stand to lose a lot of time and money if, for some reason, your website goes down and cannot be fixed for hours, or even days. This could cause potential customers to be dissuaded from buying a product from you if they receive an error message when trying to visit your website, and they may communicate their poor experience with friends and family.
According to Ajeet Khurana from thebalancesmb.com, “E-Commerce Advantages – The internet might be the single most important facet of modern society. It plays a primary role in everything from political discourse and higher education to the way we conduct ourselves and our businesses. It’s no wonder, then, that switching to an e-commerce model comes with significant advantages.
E-commerce eliminates the need for physical stores and allows businesses to expand their customer base. On top of eliminating the possibility of long lines, e-commerce sites offer a huge advantage to both shoppers and stores that aren’t located in major urban areas. Even if you are located in a big city, e-commerce opens up new markets, allowing you to develop a new business model geared toward your expanding consumer base. Many businesses have found particular success in developing good e-commerce Search Engine Optimization, which drives more traffic to the site.
Your business can also save money on rent, utilities, maintenance, and other costs associated with physical stores. Your e-commerce store can essentially remain open 24/7 without hiring employees to watch over the store and protect items. Since you aren’t confined to a set amount of shelf space, there is no limit to the number of items that can be sold online, and your store’s stock can expand exponentially. Physical products will still have to be stored somewhere, but storage spaces are often cheaper than retail spaces, and you won’t have to worry about factors like foot traffic and parking spaces.
Digital products can be sold online with a little-to-no overhead cost. Thanks to e-commerce, consumers can purchase music, videos, or books instantaneously. Stores can now sell unlimited copies of these digital items, without having to worry about where they’ll store the inventory.
E-commerce also allows your business to scale up easier than physical retailers. When a brick-and-mortar store grows, it needs to consider how it will serve more customers in the same small space. More employees are needed to expedite check-outs, more of the floor gets dedicated to forming lines, shoppers feel more crowded as customer base and inventory grows. Of course, logistics always get tougher as a business grows, no matter how the business operates. With the right choice of a third-party logistics provider, however, e-commerce companies can manage this growth without worrying about the physical store aspects.
Keeping in contact with customers is often easier for e-commerce businesses. Since the e-commerce merchant captures contact information in the form of email, sending out both automated and customized emails is simple. Let customers know about a sale, promote a new product, or just check in with customers for a personal touch—all with minimal effort. Additionally, web tools like cookies allow for superior store customization and consumer behavior analysis.
The benefits consumers enjoy are shared by e-commerce companies when it comes to the supply chain. Consumers like online shopping because they don’t have to deal with cash, worry about schedules, or wait in long lines. Those benefits also apply to entire supply chains interlinked with business-to-business e-commerce systems. Procurement becomes faster, transparent, and there’s no need to handle currency notes or cash. The result is cheaper, easier transactions with fewer opportunities for accounting errors.
Finally, e-commerce allows your business to track logistics, which is key to a successful e-commerce company. Having everything digitized makes it easier to automatically collect data and crunch numbers. While you can benefit from knowing what’s selling best, you can also afford to take more risks on low-volume goods. The conventional retail strategy focuses on stocking fast-moving goods, but the economics of e-commerce permits slow-moving and even obsolete products to be included in the catalog. Storage is less expensive, and displaying the product is as easy as adding another item page to your site.
“E-Commerce Drawbacks – While it may initially seem like e-commerce will solve all your business problems, there are disadvantages to switching from a physical location to an online store,” she added.
Many consumers still prefer the personal touch and relationships formed at a brick-and-mortar shop. This can be especially valuable to customers shopping for specialized products, as they may want to consult an expert about the best product for their needs. A solid customer service hotline can’t replace face-to-face interaction with a specialized sales rep. Additionally, many customers want to experience the product before purchase, like when shopping for clothes.
Security and credit card fraud are also huge risks when dealing with online shopping. Consumers run the risk of identity fraud and similar hazards every time they enter their details into a site. If your site doesn’t convince shoppers that the check-out process is secure, they could get scared out of buying. On the other hand, businesses run the risk of phishing attacks and other forms of cyberattacks. If one of your employees opens just one malicious link, it could compromise your website functionality, financial information—or worst of all, your customers’ information.
If shopping is about instant gratification, then consumers are left empty-handed. They often have to either pay more for expedited shipping or wait for several days until the product arrives. The wait could drive away customers. For businesses, the shipping becomes extra complicated when a customer wants a refund. Growing e-commerce businesses need to expand their reverse logistics functions, meaning the shipping back of goods and refunding of costs.
Speaking of costs, there’s a multiplicity of regulations and taxes that come with opening an e-commerce shop (and a fair amount of confusion, as well). On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can charge sales tax on e-commerce transactions. But the Supreme Court left it up to states to decide what size of online retailers must pay sales tax, and what that tax rate will be. That’s just one example of the regulatory confusion that has stemmed from e-commerce’s rapid growth, and it doesn’t even touch on international trade laws. The result is a regulatory patchwork that retailers are responsible for learning, no matter how complicated.
Furthermore, Ajeet also stated in the article how is good for consumers and bad for business.
Some aspects of e-commerce don’t fit nicely into just the pro or con side of the argument. Unique issues present an advantage to shoppers while adding difficulty for businesses. Customers might be buying, but the business could suffer in other ways.
Price comparison is a major advantage for online shoppers that can restrict businesses. Consumers can compare prices with a simple click, rather than crossing town to check another store. Many shoppers will search for the absolute lowest price, and if you can’t offer it, you will probably lose the sale.
Even if you can offer lower prices, businesses who compete in these price wars will see their profits decline. Though there is nothing about e-commerce that’s intrinsically tied to discounts, the way online business has evolved has led to lower prices. Buyers love the lower prices, but sellers—not so much.
Shipping is convenient for consumers, but it adds inconvenience to the business. Shoppers love having things delivered right to their doorstep, but the logistics of delivery adds substantial strain to the e-commerce business operation. The more you ship, the bigger the burden becomes. Logistics and management can become a nightmare, even as the business enjoys steady profit growth and customer retention.
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