Selling Online vs Offline

Whether to sell online or have a walk-in store depends first on your target market and next on the type of products or services that you are selling. Most products bought online are shipped to customers via post or courier service, so perishable goods are usually ruled out of online shopping. Perishable goods can be sold online if you sell locally only and take responsibility for delivery by hiring dedicated drivers with transport to deliver to door, like pizza outlets for example. Or they can be shipped with dry ice or other measures being taken, which may add to the cost and make it harder to compete with a local store.

Non-perishable items and other products like computer hardware, perfumes, cosmetics, handyman’s tools etc. can be shipped by any means to anywhere as long as they are securely packaged. These type of products also lend themselves to a much broader audience, allowing you to market your site across the country.

Any product that can be downloaded such as learning material, tutorials and software can be marketed worldwide. The sky is the limit with paid downloads, but you must ensure that you have a credit card payment option to appeal to national and international buyers.

An online and a walk-in store

To have both an online and walk-in store can be very practical, again depending on your target market and your product or services. Your walk-in store will appeal to locals and you can market online throughout your state or even nationally or internationally.

Examples of businesses that work well utilizing both marketing methods are sellers of baking equipment. The walk-in store sells all baking equipment and baking ingredients, while the on-line store sells only those baking equipment and ingredients that can be shipped. Also, gardening – the walk-in store sells plants, seeds, bulbs and all garden equipment, while the online store sells seeds, bulbs and small sized garden equipment.

Specialized products would thrive with both options. For example, in a world where many people are looking to live a healthier lifestyle your baking store could add specialized flours like organic spelt, almond, rice and other organic seeds, etc. for healthy baking. For gardening, selling organic seeds and bulbs online will draw customers nationwide.

Payment methods

Whatever decision you make, ensure that you offer your customers different payment options. Customers want ease of payment. They no longer want to pay by cash or check. By having credit and debit card payment options available both in-store and online you will attract more business. You will also see an increase in ‘impulse-buys’ when customers pay by credit card. When paying with cash customers are limited to buying for no more than the cash they have in their wallet. Credit card payments removed that limit!

Credit card payments will also attract customers to specials offered in-store or online. Unexpected value products that they did not intend to buy, but recognizing the cost-saving will motivate them to buy.

For more information about whether an online or offline store is better, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to


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