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Home » Offline to online: Sales in the modern world

Offline to online: Sales in the modern world

Online businesses 

Unless you were born during a lockdown period in recent times, chances are your first introduction to the act of buying and selling was in a traditional brick-and mortar store. That’s because almost every existing industry on this planet started off in a tangible building before it ever made its way to the online world. Brick-and mortar stores sell all their products in a location customers can physically go and visit.

eCommerce businesses, however, are a different ball game altogether. Firstly, an eCommerce store is online based, meaning that unlike physical stores, you only need to visit their website or app to buy products. Secondly, every part of the online sales process is done, online. From browsing products to completing the payment for your order, everything customer-facing is managed online.

So how do you handle an online-based business differently to a traditional business, and when should you consider adjusting how/where you sell your products? Let’s start by understanding the key differences in both types of businesses.

What differentiates them?

Online and physical businesses both have a role to play in well-rounded successful sales. So much so that instead of opting for either one of the business types in question, more businesses are going the hybrid route and using both. These are known as click and mortar businesses, which makes use of an omnichannel strategy.

In the same breath, online and physical businesses share quite a few differences which make their customer experiences distinctly unique from one another. For instance, shopping for a book in-store feels completely different from buying books online. One option allows you to touch, smell, and enquire about the book with sales reps, the other gives you access to book reviews, online specials, greater stock availability, and convenience. These all have an effect on:

  1. Shopping experience
  2. Instant gratification
  3. Customer service speed
  4. Customer relationship management
  5. Business hours

Managing online and offline businesses for optimal sales

We have mentioned a number of elements and processes that work differently for in-store sales compared to online sales. Let’s take a deep dive into the five factors that directly impact customers.

1. Shopping experience

Having the opportunity to touch, fit, or just check a product before paying for it makes it easier to leave with a product you are pleased with. However, you may not have the same access to product information and better deals in-store as you would online. In this case, having effective sales reps on the floor assists customers get all the information they need while shopping.

eCommerce stores allow you to get detailed data on the product, online discounts, and even reviews that help you make a more informed decision on buying a product. Customers also have access to more stock on online stores than in-store as products can be sourced from bigger warehouses or different branches. For better customer experiences online, ensure your eCommerce platform looks and functions at optimal levels.

2. Instant gratification

Waiting is not a common trait we connect with customers. So, getting any form of instant gratification is a plus in sales. With in-store sales, you can instantly enjoy the products you buy immediately after purchase, however waiting for stores to open or for queries to be addressed can be frustrating.

On the other hand, online stores allow customers to satisfy their shopping needs at any time, on any day. They also enable them to enjoy efficient customer query resolution through chatbots, AI, and omnichannel customer service solutions. With an eCommerce solution like Digitrade, you can easily integrate these functions and improve your customer satisfaction levels.

3. Customer service speed

As we mentioned before, having to wait for anything in the sales process is never ideal for customers, which means speed is very important. Customer service should be accurate, painless, and efficiently handled. For in-store businesses, this requires precise management and upskilling of customer service reps and sales personnel.  For online stores, this is best achieved through intelligent, integrated solutions that help customer service reps handle customer queries efficiently. Being omnichannel as an online business also helps you address more customer engagement on different channels effectively.

4. Customer relationship management

Historically, people would buy from their small local stores where they knew the workers and even owners by name, making for very personal customer relationships. Now, some companies have hundreds of customers visiting their stores (and websites) every day. Managing these relationships then becomes an issue of providing customers with experiences they will connect with, consistently. This is accomplished in-store through better checkout systems, strategic product placement, helpful sales reps, and anything that will make a better shopping experience.

Online is the same, but it’s easier to manage well with a powerful eCommerce platform and smart CRM solutions. For eCommerce CRM, more attention is placed on how businesses create and handle customer engagement online because they hardly interact with customers face-to-face. This, however, makes it easier to track engagement and data, which can be used to create personalized experiences.

5. Business hours

What are your business’s operating hours? If you solely sell in-store, chances are you have set hours and days when customers can reach you. Having set business hours limits your customers from shopping and interacting with you right when they want or need to. Whereas eCommerce businesses are accessible 24/7, on any day for sales and engagement. Meaning customers can enjoy the convenience and instant gratification of being able to browse and buy items whenever and wherever they want to.

Applying these lessons to your business

With so many smart solutions and platforms, you do not have to sell only through one channel. If you already have a brick-and-mortar business, add an eCommerce platform to your organisation and discover how far it can push your productivity and profitability. Try our powerful Digitrade eCommerce solution or better yet, book a demo and learn how it works.

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