5/26/2016 Prev Next Email Share × Share On: You’ve finally found something that you’re passionate about, but how do you convince an audience to love it just as much as you do? Growing your business may seem daunting but with the help of guides and resources, you can turn any business into a profitable one. It’s prevalent that no two businesses are alike and choosing a brick-and-mortar location or having a business online is important for a startup to decide. Of course, having an online business is more affordable than paying for a physical location, but what will be your return on investment when you are physically present? The Small Business Education Center is here to answer your business needs and questions. Here are some tips on deciding whether you should set up shop online or a storefront location. Starting a Business Online Before establishing a business online, ask yourself, is the type of product or service appropriate for an online or mobile audience? Is it something that needs to be seen or explained in-person in order to get the sale? Determining this and the pros and cons will surely help you decide. Pros Target a Larger Audience – Unlike a local business in a nearby neighborhood, online businesses have the ability to offer their goods or services to a wide range of customers. Online retail, for example, has grown significantly since 2009 from $155 billion to $280 billion. This is due to the amount of data that merchants are able to gather from online shoppers in order to target the best audience. Always Open and Always Present – Opening a digital storefront means your online store is always open for browsing and someone can always be reached through your contact information. Another benefit of being online is how easily you can market to consumers with social media and targeted ads. A social media campaign is easy to launch, cost efficient, and great for targeting online communities. Just be sure to follow the social media etiquettewhen interacting with customers and remember that most transactions are made on mobile devices so make sure your website is mobile friendly. Con Customers Miss the In-Store Experience – Most people prefer the in-store experience before deciding to make a purchase. After all, there is a big difference between creating an attractive and welcoming in-store environment that a website can’t provide. However, there are ways to avoid a cluttered and hard to navigate website with the right web design. Opening a Storefront Location Developing a business in a local neighborhood is definitely crucial to growing the U.S. economy and communities and as stated above, customers are more likely to purchase when they can evaluate a product first-hand. Determine whether your small business should be at a storefront location with these pros and cons. Pros It’s Hard to Beat the In-Store Customer Experience – It is hard to beat the experience of human interaction that an local business can provide. So many local businesses are supported through business initiatives such as Shop Small and Small Business Saturday, which encourages more customers to shop. Some businesses even focus solely on the in-store customer experience as there main strategy. Storefront Locations Are Appealing – When customers are walking through a local neighborhood or downtown shopping center, they are usually out to shop. Having an appealing storefront and a great location will certainly attract customers into your store and providing a personable experience will help your business grow stronger ties within your community. Con Higher Startup Costs – For a business owner just starting out, finding the right location and being able to afford it can be a hassle. The cost of rent, utilities, property tax, insurance, and other expenses that come with having a physical location will require a loan for such a large investment. Although, you know that setting up an e-commerce store will require less hassle and lower startup costs. The decision is completely yours to make and is under your discretion whether your customers really need a physical location in order to enjoy a unique customer experience. Take Warby Parker for example. The successful eyewear merchant started online and created a successful online experience for its customers. Once the eyewear company took off, it expanded its market to an offline presence in boutiques and Warby Parker storefronts. There is no doubt that creating both an online and offline experience for your customers will provide you with the most success. No matter how you start your business, it is important to note that a successful startup should have a digital presence, nonetheless. With so many consumers attached to their phones and constantly using social media apps, your business will attract a broader audience online. Discover what your best option is for launching your business and meet other successful entrepreneurs at the Small Business Expo. You will have the chance to network business owners like yourself and attend beneficial presentations that will offer the best entrepreneurial advice.