What is an online and offline business? Everyone will have visited a physical store at least once in their life and that is what we call an offline business. A physical store is where you can physically go and check the product’s quality before opting to buy.
An offline business is where people get to visit the actual place of the business and can check the product physically before deciding whether to buy or not.
However, the world changed after the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. Close contacts were banned and staying at home was preferred, which gave rise to online businesses, not that they didn’t exist before.
All the major businesses shifted their focus towards online selling and considering how things are going on in the world, with the arrival of covid paving the way for remote work, online businesses are the way forward.
What makes online business more attractive than offline business? Customers or potential customers now want to avoid the hassle of getting up and going to the store and spending three/four hours, not finding the right quality. Instead, they would rather do it all on their phones, from doing market research while sipping a cup of tea sitting on a sofa to placing an order, all while in the comfort of their home.
Not to say offline businesses do have a future of their own and will continue to co-exist with online businesses. Market-going people have a thing in common, that is, they will do a thorough check of the product they are going to buy and that is one of the biggest advantages offline businesses tend to have over online businesses. Add to that, some newly launched online businesses try to play smart with their customers by showing something else in the pictures and sending something else. For this reason alone, offline businesses might never shut down.
Having said all this, opening a business is never an easy task, be it online or offline. Both types of businesses have their own set of challenges.
Let’s start by having a look at the challenges faced by offline businesses.
First and foremost, for someone to start his own business with a physical shop, a huge amount of investment is needed. The person thinking about starting his business will have to face a few hurdles and having a physical shop is probably the biggest of them all. Yes, having the stock is necessary but what will one do with all the inventory if there is no shop to keep it?
Finding a suitable location
The biggest challenge presented to people who wish to start an offline business is finding a suitable location. For instance, a clothing shop owner wouldn’t want his shop in an isolated place, far away from the main market where other clothing businesses are being operated. The location has a say in how a business will perform in the market. Most businesses don’t do well because they don’t have a parking space and therefore potential customers tend to ignore such places.
With offline businesses, comes the headache of paying rent every month irrespective of how you are doing. It is indeed one of the biggest challenges faced by offline businesses, especially looking at how costly things have become presently. Along with paying rent, it is hard to pay the salaries of your staff when the chips are down.
Global Selling/Limited Brand Visibility/Marketing
Moving on, offline businesses’ reach is limited to the city they operate in. However, depending on the success they are getting, they can decide to open in another city or they can go global but that will obviously require more investment and more staff. Therefore, despite having the option to go global, it is still a challenge for them because having a business in another country needs full documentation according to that particular country, which is obviously difficult and energy consuming along with heavy investment. Similarly, their brand visibility is limited as well but they can invest in marketing to improve brand visibility according to their requirement. They can market their business but using billboards or other means of marketing/promotion is expensive in itself.
Limited Time Availability
Unlike online businesses, owners of offline businesses cannot be available 24/7 as the shops have timings and they have to follow the rules and regulations of the country they are in and most of the businesses close their shop by 10 in the night and open at 10 in the morning.
Feasibility to Operate
Another hurdle is that the owners of offline businesses can only operate from their store/shop, which sometimes hinders the sale. Often, we have seen the boss is not available and the employees cannot act on their own and the disappointed customer goes without the purchase.
One of the major obstacles a branded offline business faces is that it cannot sell in other stores. The only option for them is their own store since other brands will never accept selling their rival’s product. In contrast, online businesses can sell on many platforms other than their own including amazon, etc.
The challenges faced by offline businesses are big enough to not be ignored but that doesn’t mean online businesses have it any easy. They have their own to deal with.
Let’s take a glance at what kind of challenges online businesses face.
Despite the fact online businesses are spared from investing highly, they have other challenges to go through. It is because of the same reason; online businesses face very stiff competition. The fact that there is no need to invest big, many entrepreneurs have entered the world of online business thus creating tough competition.
The internet language is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is very important to get the know-how of the internet language before stepping foot into the world of online business. If you are not familiar with how to communicate effectively with the potential customer and are unable to convince him/her to buy your product, then you might be lacking the grip of managing the online business.
Manage the business from the tip of your finger while sitting in the comfort of your room. Being available 24/7 is easier said than done. However, doing it in real is what counts the most. It requires dedication, time, and commitment to run an online business and not everyone can achieve that.
Using social media to keep the business active
We live in the world of social media and what better way to take advantage of it. Online businesses use the presence of people on social media to their benefit. Social media is full of potential customers as people spend most of their time using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, coming up with multiple appealing posts on social media to attract customers is one hectic thing.
It is rather difficult to convince a customer to buy your product indirectly through the means of a message as compared to when you are face-to-face as you never know in what way or how the customer can project your message. Whereas in person, you can tell from the body language of the customer whether or not he/she will come again to shop. Whereas, in online business, you are behind a computer screen and it becomes difficult to judge whether or not the customer will purchase or come again. Hence, it is fairly difficult to retain your customer online.
One of the toughest challenges faced by an online business is having the fear of getting the product returned due to the non-availability of the customer or because the customer is not happy with the product. With how the delivery services mostly work in the world, taking at least 3-4 days to deliver. It is quite bothersome to think that your sale is not yet completed and there is no confirmation that it has been sold. Sometimes because the delivery has gotten late, the customer is not at the given address to accept the delivery.
Challenges don’t stop for online businesses. While offline businesses can give customer support in person, online businesses don’t have that luxury, and the owner has to resort to convincing the customer through the means of virtual support, where he is trying to persuade the customer from far away through messaging.
Dependency on any platform at any time is a big risk a business has opted to take because you cannot guarantee the presence of social media forever. Imagine, one day you wake up and you read social media got banned in your country. It will turn your business upside down for the worse.
Last but not the least, deliveries in online businesses take 3-4 days if not more. However, in some cases, it also takes up to a week to deliver the product to its customers. If someone needs to buy something urgently and he/she cannot wait, then the option of online shopping is not for that person and sometimes deliveries from third parties create lots of problems.
Both online and offline businesses have their share of challenges but the success hinges on how the owners tackle them. It is only the starting part where most of the challenges come across but once you are set, the business will start producing results.