Starting an online business is no walk in the park — it requires diligent planning, understanding your market and competition, and basic knowledge of standard business practices. Ecommerce is growing at an exponential rate, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
Some startups and nascent businesses believe that operating online means there’s no need to purchase office space. It may even be a driving factor when deciding to open an eCommerce company.
Here are some reasons why physical location matters for your online business.
Why Have a Physical Location?
Regardless of what industry you serve, having a physical location can make or break your business. Finding a place that fits your brand image and company culture is crucial when achieving your business goals. Otherwise, it may be challenging to get customers to buy your products or reap the benefits of your services.
Our buying behavior may be moving online, but many external, offline factors influence our purchasing decisions. Technology plays a major role, and it’s critical for businesses to keep up with the latest tech trends.
According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where we live affects our online buying behavior. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that offline behavior can impact online purchases — our world is becoming more digitized and interconnected than ever before.
What takes place offline, such as customer interactions and referrals, can heavily influence whether or not someone will purchase your products or services.
Benefits of Having a Physical Presence
It may seem daunting for businesses that operate primarily online to venture out and find a physical location to host their operations. However, the benefits of having an offline presence will be well worth the investment.
Here are a few examples of benefits you’ll be able to gain from establishing a brick-and-mortar business location.
Improved Brand Visibility
It’s no secret that more consumers are making the digital transition and taking most of their shopping online. However, if you want your brand to stand out from the crowd, consider having a physical presence in the local community.
When more people are exposed to your brand, they are more likely to turn into potential customers. Online businesses that utilize basic digital marketing strategies may be missing out on reaching those potential shoppers.
Take a company like Warby Parker, for instance. It started as an online business but found it could benefit from having brick-and-mortar stores in various locations. Now, Warby Parker is opening 35 more shops to help recoup some losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Better Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is becoming a crucial part of operating an online business. While it focuses on improving the online presence of your company, your physical location also plays a critical role in the process.
This is where local SEO comes into play. It assists businesses in ranking on Google’s local search results. Google searches help customers find out more information about your business, and having a physical presence helps authenticate your operation.
Suppose you were a digital marketing agency primarily operating online but had one small office in your city. In that case, if someone in your area searched “digital marketing agencies near me,” the goal would be to have your business rank first on the search engine results page (SERP). This would hopefully increase your exposure and bring in more potential clients.
More Professional Branding
It comes down to a simple question: Would you trust a business with an online and offline presence more than one that’s just virtual? While the answer may vary, it’s more likely to be the former.
Businesses with a physical presence tend to garner the trust of the local community. These days, anyone can start an online business with a laptop and Wi-Fi connection. You need to set your company apart by appearing credible and reliable.
It’s much easier to sell products online than to establish a brick-and-mortar store, but building a good reputation for your business should remain paramount. Establishing a level of trust between your company and customers is crucial in increasing sales and revenue. A physical location suggests a certain level of professionalism and motivation to expand.
These are only a few of the benefits you can expect from establishing an offline presence in your community. You must review your local business permit laws, regulations and ordinances when you’re looking for a physical space to lease or purchase.
Establishing a Physical Presence
While it’s easier said than done, consider opening up a physical location or headquarters for your online business venture. Although customers can buy products from practically anywhere, operating a company in a specific area can positively impact your success and help you thrive in a competitive environment.