More and more small businesses are moving away from a ‘brick-and-mortar’ retail store to an online e-commerce model. This isn’t exactly news, but the pace at which it’s going in this direction seems staggering. I was just talking with a friend of mine, who moved out to Phoenix several years back and opened up a successful retail store that specializes in figure skating gear. Some time later he launched an e-commerce version of his store called Discountskatewear.com. His online sales now account for approximately 70% of his business, with orders coming in from places as far as Australia and Saudi Arabia. His focus has now turned to managing his Google search advertising spend and SEO program, rather than dealing with print /radio advertising and in-store promotions.
The same is happening with larger chains like Discovery Channel who the Washington Post reports is now closing all their physical stores, while retaining its online store which experienced a 144% jump in sales in 2007. Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends accurately explains that the biggest driver of this movement is cost savings – no rent, utilities and in-store staff. And faster and far greater access to a global market to form your customer base.