If you’re already running a brick and mortar store with a physical location, adding or transitioning to ecommerce is a natural next step — but what factors do you need to consider when deciding how much to invest in an online shopping venture?
The first thing to consider is whether or not ecommerce is right for you and your business.
While adding ecommerce opens you up, quite literally, to a nationwide or worldwide market, it also comes with its own set of challenges:
It’s also worth noting that some products may sell great in stores — but inherently aren’t the best to sell online:
While these challenges are all things to keep in mind, they aren’t necessarily show-stopping reasons to not venture into ecommerce — and there are plenty of merchants selling items like these successfully online.
Let’s take a look at how the various elements from traditional retail business translate to the online world:
While online stores do sometimes require renting out warehouse or other commercial space for storing and fulfilling products, it’s often cheaper to do this since these spaces are typically not located in desirable storefront or retail areas.
Plus, if you’re already renting physical retail space with storage space, you may be able to leverage that for your ecommerce side of things — at least to start.
Another “rent” and “utility” expense to consider is the price of hosting your online store — even most “free” solutions have some kind of ultimate cost.
If you’re using Shopify to host your store, you have a key advantage since it includes pretty much everything you’ll need from a technical standpoint.
Just like when running a brick and mortar store, there are a variety of directions you can go for your digital “displays” in the form of a Shopify theme.
When considering what Shopify theme to use, there’s nothing wrong with using a free or low cost theme, especially if you’re just getting started.
However, similarly to lower priced or repurposed fixtures, there are some limits to free and premium Shopify themes.
Just like low cost fixtures that are not rated for commercial use are more likely to break and not last as long, it’s also likely that a lower cost or free Shopify theme might not be a long term solution.
On the other hand, while creating a completely custom Shopify theme designed and coded just for your store — the equivalent to having custom fixtures and furnishings — does have the advantage of a unique look for your store and brand, it’s also out price range for many businesses.
All that said, a good middle ground solution is to go with a premium Shopify theme.
These themes typically cost between $180 and $500. While that price may seem high to some business owners, consider that you won’t need to invest in the full expense of rent, utilities or event fixtures and furnishings.
However, premium Shopify themes come with a myriad of customization settings you can easily control from your store admin dashboard — and typically with just a few clicks of a mouse.
So, instead of debating whether silver or gold racks would be best for your store before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, a premium Shopify theme lets you spend a few hundred bucks and then change the look and feel of the digital “fixtures” almost instantly.
When breaking down the costs of doing business online, it’s easy to see how investing in an ecommerce platform such as Shopify and a premium Shopify theme equates to “real world” investments in a business.