The online world is not for everyone. In the rush to take advantage of the Internet, many businesses fail to take into account that like any start-up company, starting a Web site can have its drawbacks. In the most extreme scenario, it can cost you your “bricks & mortar” business.
Like any business venture, you must weigh up the pros and cons before proceeding. Most people already have an idea of some of the benefits, such as increased customer awareness, increased market share, increased revenue but do you know the “down side” to having an Internet presence.
What they don’t tell you about the Internet
Before you start your Web site, you need to consider the following points:
Setting up a web site can be expensive, especially if you use professional designers. It also costs money to maintain and promote your site. Do you have enough available funds to design and then maintain your site?
Web sites take up a lot of time. Not only will you have to prepare the content but you will also have to keep your site updated otherwise you will lose your customers. Have you allocated enough of your time to this site and will you have to bring on an additional staff member to maintain the site?
Although the Internet gives you the opportunity to sell 24 hours, 7 days a week, do you have the necessary infrastructure to support that? Can you keep up with the “outside” orders during normal business hours? Again, would it necessitate you adding more staff?
Some products do not transfer too well to the Internet. Highly tactile products such as fur or leather coats or products that have a visual appeal such as lounges and tables will be difficult to sell online.
Security is a big concern both for you and your customers. You need to make sure that you have the necessary technology in place to prevent malicious hackers and also to allay customers’ concerns.
Your customers may not want to use your web site. Many consumers are concerned about their privacy and that confidential information could be “sold”. As a result, they prefer to use the more traditional stores for their shopping needs.
You can be at the mercy of technology. Having web sites going “down” is a frequent occurrence. This can be caused by something as simple your web host suffering a power outage and no back up generator to the servers crashing. Most host servers have a built in back-up system but sometimes both go.
If you decide to host your web site yourself, you need to be available 24 hours, 7 days a week so that if there is a problem, you can fix it promptly.
E-commerce is very competitive and your pool of customers can be relatively small. If you don’t make your site “stand out from the crowd”, you will be out of business. This means you will have to actively promote your site which again, can prove expensive.
However, having pointed out the problems with the Web, there are still plenty of companies making money off the Internet and if you approach it properly, you could too!