The Importance of Going Digital

The exponential growth of internet users has not only affected the way people interact with each other, but also the way they shop. People no longer need to leave their homes to get what they need or want. All you need is to click with your finger and you’ll get anything at your doorstep, from groceries, to clothes or electronics. Over the past eight years, businesses have seen an unprecedented marketing opportunity in the form of Internet-based electronic commerce. Not only the number of people shopping online has increased, the amount of people engaged in online banking has also duplicated in the past year, and around two-thirds of the internet users are using the Internet as a means to obtain product information. As a brand, it is no longer enough to buy a domain name and present your brand and services or products. You need to be able to provide these services and products in an online way, yet keep the brick-and-mortar model, so you can provide your customers the benefits of fast, online transactions, as well as traditional face to face service. One of the most important benefits of this model, often referred to as bricks-and-clicks or click-and-mortar, is that it allows you to lower costs in different areas. For example, you can save in labour, when you rely on your consumers to look up for product information, or filling out forms. It will also allow you to avoid having to stock goods that are seldom purchased, but still having available the full range of choices on the Internet. You can also get savings in delivery if you use the physical outlet as the pick-up location when costumers have purchased online, or as a start point of deliveries in the local area. Another benefit that comes with this mixed business model is the differentiation through value-added services. You can provide ordering, customization and reservation services. After purchase, you can have an online account management, or loyalty programmes that include after-sales activities in the store, or complementary products and services. Other opportunities can be found in the areas of installation, service reminders, training and repair. An advantage of having a click-and-mortar business, as compared to pure Internet firms, is that costumers tend to trust more firms with a physical presence, as this involves a reduced consumer risk, an affiliation with recognized local social and business networks, and brand awareness. It also helps customers to know that there is a place where their goods can be returned if faulty, or where they can register their complaints. This type of business model can also help extend the reach of a firm farther than its physical outlets, reaching new geographic and product markets, as well as approaching new types of buyers. Having virtual channels will allow your business to extend the product scope and depth that physical channels have, as you will be able to offer products without having to stock them locally. It can also expand your market, as there is a great amount of people who prefer the comfort of shopping from home, while there are also the ones who still prefer the face to face experience of shopping. So if you have decided to buy a domain name and go digital, bear in mind to make a plan in which both the physical store as well as the online one can function together and help each other to get the best out of each business model. There are many potential sources of synergy, which any firm can make use of if they have chosen to integrate an e-commerce model to their existing traditional business forms. There are many ways in which a firm can minimize the conflicts between both channels and at the same time helping them attain a beneficial synergy.
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