Twenty-first-century technology has revolutionized the way consumers buy commodities. In the olden days, consumers had to personally go to the market to purchase goods from local merchants. They had no direct access to foreign products unless the merchants traveling to their towns managed to barter goods.
Since then, trade and commerce have only continued to evolve, making the process of buying and selling that much easier. With technology today, people only need to tap on their screens to buy goods online and have them delivered to their doorsteps.
That’s why many entrepreneurs are debating whether to run a purely digital business or maintain a brick-and-mortar shop to accommodate their customers. Both business models have advantages and disadvantages, which means you will need to compare them to pick the right model for you.
Running a small novelty shop means that you have already decided on a market niche that you want to cater to. You have products ready to be sold and a target market in mind. The only decision you have yet to make is what kind of business model will benefit your shop the most. To make the decision easier, here’s a quick rundown of their main pros and cons:
Option #1: Brick-and-mortar Model
The traditional business model will always be brick-and-mortar stores. This means that you will have a physical location for your shop where customers can visit to buy goods. It’s easier to establish customer relationships with a brick-and-mortar shop because your employees can directly communicate with the patrons.
If you were to run a brick-and-mortar novelty shop, the best approach to this would be looking for a location that your target markets frequent. For instance, you can find a nice spot for lease in locations such as America’s Antique Mall, where other small businesses sell vintage items and novelty goods.
Being surrounded by shops that are similar in nature might increase competition, but it can also be a good way to attract customers because you will know that they are interested in what you’re selling. Other convenient locations would be flea markets, pop-up booths, or commercial spaces where you can set up shop.
The biggest con of a brick-and-mortar business will be physical limitations. This is because your business can only be found in one location, and therefore, can be inaccessible to other potential customers because of physical constraints. As such, you will have a smaller target demographic for your business.
Option #2: eCommerce Model
Plenty of business owners have benefited greatly from having an eCommerce business because they can cater to a wider audience. Being visible online means that your business has the potential to be seen by everyone with an internet connection, provided that your digital marketing strategies are sufficient.
A purely digital shop can also lower your operational costs because you won’t have to spend money on rent and utilities. Fewer overhead costs mean that you can delegate your budget to maintain your own eCommerce website or to manage your shop on established platforms such as Etsy and Shopify.
The biggest con of an eCommerce shop would probably fall on the aspect of customer relationships. This is because most of the transactions will be done through mediated communication—whether through your website or social media accounts. It’s a con because it can be difficult to establish relationships with customers when you’re only communicating through screens.
But other than the fact that relationship marketing may be a struggle, running an eCommerce novelty shop can be a more practical option because it’s cost-effective. You also won’t be limited by time constraints because the internet never sleeps, and therefore, can cater to customers 24/7.
Option #3: Brick-and-click Model
Despite the never-ending debate between these two traditional business models, the best answer will always be finding the middle ground. Many business owners have seen the potential of these two business models, and they have realized that to succeed in their chosen industry, they will need both.
However, simultaneously managing both models while you’re still trying to get your business off the ground can be extremely overwhelming. It can also be risky because you would have to juggle working in your brick-and-mortar shop while managing your eCommerce business, which can be a disaster in the making.
If you’re going with the brick-and-click model, then you should be confident enough to manage your business without putting too much on your plate. But this can be a smart business move if you want to expand and grow your novelty shop.
At the end of the day, only you can make this decision for your business because you’re the one setting your short and long-term goals. Your initial decision for your business model won’t have to be set in stone, but it’s important to gauge which option can benefit you in the present; not in the long run.