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Five Differences between Offline and Online Stores

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While traditional retail stores are familiar, when a store goes online, merchants quickly discover the retail environment is not the same. There are major differences between offline and online, and one must take these differences into account when constructing a new store or refitting an existing one.
Five differences between offline and online stores are discussed:
- Location
- Construction
- Size
- Presentation
- Personnel
In the end, retailers can use these differences to their advantage, always remembering that customer needs come first.

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Five Differences between Offline and Online Stores

  1. 1. Five Differences: Offline and Online Stores Charles E. Crouch © Charles Crouch 2004-14
  2. 2. While we’ve been building offline stores for thousands of years... Fast Food Restaurant, Pompeii, 79 AD Photo: C. Crouch
  3. 3. Online stores are barely 20 years old! Dell circa 1996 Images: telegraph.co.uk Amazon circa 1996
  4. 4. When going online, merchants quickly found that selling is not the same! Markets are altered Customers actions change and Stores become different! Photo: C. Crouch
  5. 5. Here are five ways offline and online stores differ Location Construction Size Presentation Personnel Photo: C. Crouch
  6. 6. Location Offline stores have a physical location which must be taken into account: • easy street address to be found • convenient customer access • no (hopefully) nearby competitors Offline stores require a commitment in time and effort by customers to go there. This often Photo: iStockPhoto makes them more likely to buy.
  7. 7. Location Online stores are located someplace in an online world where: • there is no obvious physical presence • accessible by a worldwide audience, 24/7 • competitors are (unfortunately) only one click away Online stores require less customer commitment; a simple click to visit. Keeping potential customers on the website is a major challenge for online stores.
  8. 8. Construction Whether building a new store or refitting an existing one, constructing an offline store is a significant task: • months, if not years, in time • major cost, especially for high quality retail space • specialty contractors and skills required • changes and modifications are not easy Offline stores operate on longer time frames. Changing them can be a major effort, so alterations Photo: iStockPhoto are typically made every five to ten years.
  9. 9. Construction Since it has no physical presence, an online store is built in a different manner: • days to months, especially using pre-built packages • variable cost, depending on features and functions • but specialty developers are still required Changes and modifications to an online store can be made any time. This means online stores can react Photo: iStockPhoto faster to changing market conditions.
  10. 10. Size Offline stores must be large enough to accommodate: • the size of the merchandise • the expected number of staff and customers • space for deliveries and storage Constructing an offline store large enough to hold Photo: C. Crouch everything can be a major cost.
  11. 11. Size Online stores are sized in a different manner: • bandwidth to send and receive data • power to show websites and process transactions • storage to retain website and customer information While it is easy to add capacity to an online store, fast changing conditions, such as an overly popular sale, can still overwhelm servers and cause the Photo: iStockPhoto store to go down.
  12. 12. Presentation All merchants must display their products to attract customers and encourage them to buy. The physical layout of your store reinforces both: • your company image • the type of customers you attract In an offline store, customers can use all their senses to enhance their selection criteria Photo: C. Crouch Photo: C. Crouch
  13. 13. Presentation For an online merchant the main connection with your customer is through a screen: • customers can only see and hear • criteria such as size and weight are not possible The visual presentation is even more important, as this is the main selection criteria for customers. Photo: C. Crouch
  14. 14. Personnel Offline stores must hire, train and manage staff for face-to-face service: • each store location • local regulations must be observed While face-to-face staff provide a great advantage, they require ongoing management attention. Photo: C. Crouch
  15. 15. Personnel Online stores also use staff to: • provide a pleasant experience, even if not face-to-face • use partners and service providers for many functions Whether own staff or external partners, online stores can use people from worldwide locations. Photo: Hubspot
  16. 16. Putting it All Together Respect the differences between offline and online stores Use them to your advantage Keep your customer needs at the top of your store criteria Photo: iStockPhoto
  17. 17. Other Presentations on SlideShare Photo: C. Crouch
  18. 18. Questions Comments and Suggestions? Charles Crouch info@charlescrouch.com CharlesECrouch www.charlescrouch.com Photo: iStockPhoto

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