Over the past two decades, the Internet has changed how people lived. From education to entertainment, every sector has been forced to adapt and change. While some businesses have experienced failure, some have survived and even thrived. Whether you’re starting a small business or already operating one, there are plenty of lessons to learn from them.
Here are three ways the Internet has changed entrepreneurship for better or worse:
Before, TV, radio, and print ads were the norm. Now, influencer marketing and SEO services dominate the scene. Because of the rise of social media, niche markets have prospered. For example, the most successful YouTube stars boast impressive views, massive followers, and earn millions of dollars each year. But it’s possible that you may have not heard of most of them even if you spend a lot of time on the Internet. It’s because they cater to widely different interests and audiences. Some specialize in makeup tutorials while others show off their sports skills. In fact, the highest earning YouTuber for two years in a row is an 8-year-old kid who unboxes toys.
For small businesses, the change in marketing can be a great thing. Of course, big companies still have the advantage of being more known and a bigger budget. But the accessibility of the Internet has somewhat levelled the playing field. You don’t have to advertise on radio stations or magazines anymore to reach a wide audience. If you use your website and social media right, you can attract new consumers regularly.
Arguably the best benefit the Internet has brought for businesses is the accessibility. All you need to operate your shop is a computer with Internet access. One example is Kylie Cosmetics, which sold millions of dollars worth of lip kits exclusively online, before opening a physical shop. The advantage is two-fold: consumers from all over the world can buy from you and you can operate from anywhere. Plus, online businesses have the benefit of being able to run even during a pandemic. It gives people more options to shop while still staying safe at their homes.
Before the rise of online retail, you had to pay a premium to rent a place with a good location. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble staying afloat. Because how can people buy from you, if your location isn’t accessible? Consumers would rather choose a nearby store rather than go to the trouble of buying from a new business. Besides the rent, you’ll also have to pay for the electricity and maintenance. Plus, you may need to hire an employee to help you clean and lock up.
However, this doesn’t mean that brick and mortar stores are dead. A report has shown that 71% of customers spend at least $50 more when they shop on-site than online. There’s a reason why online brands still expand and open physical stores. Many consumers still prefer shopping in-store.
No matter how much businesses try, it’s hard to beat reality. Several companies have experimented with virtual reality to bring the physical retail experience online. The idea has merit: why do you have to go to the store to try something out when you can do it at home? But nothing beats seeing the products in person. While technology has advanced greatly, factors like lighting and camera quality can affect the preview. On the other hand, if you try out a foundation or a pair of shoes in the flesh, you’ll get a first-hand impression. The colors and the size are all accurate so there won’t be any returns or exchanges.
Another important difference between the shoppers’ experience online and offline is the delay. Whether they’re visiting a website or a physical shop, consumers intend to buy. They want to have a top, device, or food instantly. Even if you’re willing to pay a hefty price, it would be difficult to have your order delivered on the same day. It often depends if your address is in the same city as the shop you’re buying from. There are also chances of shipping delays and damages. If you buy something from a physical store, you won’t experience any of those problems. Instant gratification is just something online stores can’t deliver just yet.
The Internet has empowered entrepreneurs to start and operate their small business from the comfort of their homes. While you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a physical store, you do need to invest in your online presence. With the right strategy, you can build a solid client base online.