It feels like the automatic response right now, that almost everyone has to economic lockdowns and radical transactional restrictions, is to suggest that all businesses should automatically go online.
"Open an e-commerce site", is the resounding call to all.
But before you pull the trigger on building a brand new digital channel - might I offer you the alternative perspective that perhaps taking your business online might not be such a great idea?
- It's bloody expensive: Digital might sound super cheap, but building a proper e-commerce site / digital platform is hellava pricey. Don't be fooled into thinking that this is a cost effective option - it's certainly not.
- It requires complex logistics: I've been intimately involved with some of the best e-commerce players in the country; trust me when I say that great service delivery online requires 'weapons-grade' logistics. Making this work well is not for amateurs.
- The margins are thinner: Selling something from a physical store is far more profitable than selling something via the complex web of interactions that a digital channel relies on.
- It's tough to brand the experience: When a customer walks into your physical shop, you can design and deliver a bespoke customer experience that you control. That control disappears in an online environment where you rely on external service providers to fulfil many of your service deliverables.
- It's like running a separate business: Doing online right means that you need to spend a lot of time developing your site, your range, your brand, your image online. It requires focus and constant tending and care. This is effectively a whole new business that requires the skills and attention of a dedicated team.
Perhaps branching out into a digital environment is a great option for the future of your business, but be aware that it's certainly not for all businesses.
Sure explore the option and ask a lot of questions of the opportunity in a digital strategy, but always keep the not-for-us door open while you do it.