When To Rule Out Online Selling

While there are many good reasons to sell your products online, there are times when you might want to rule out online selling. Before you make a decision to compete in the digital space, take a closer look at the reasons some small businesses prefer not to. You may find that selling ‘offline’ may be your best bet.

1. Customer Expectations Are High

Online commerce rules are far different than brick-and-mortar rules. Customers expect online sellers to be there for them 24/7, to answer questions, fulfill orders at the click of a button and provide a continuous hum of service. If you don’t have the resources to live up to these expectations – or simply can’t deliver – another online seller will.

2. Competition Is Everywhere

If you’re running Claire’s Custom Candles in Sedona, your competitors might hail from a few cities throughout Arizona. If you’re running ClairesCustomCandles.com your competition is the world – and candle makers from Anchorage to Zurich will be giving you a run for your money. Are you prepared to go toe-to-toe with businesses you didn’t even know existed? If not, it’s wise to do business the conventional way.

3. Products That Can’t Be Sold Online

If your differentiating promise is to shake hands with every customer and look them in the eye (for instance, if you’re a financial planner), this level of personal service will be impossible to deliver through selling online. While a site might help facilitate a meeting where one-to-one service can take place, it’s no substitute for engaging a customer – and making a sale – in person.

4. Your Business Doesn’t Fit The Online Commerce Model

There are some small businesses that simply can’t or are better off not selling online. If you sell luxury items, such as high-end custom designed jewelry or suits, consumers are going to expect a level of high-end service befitting the investment that is lost online. A variety of luxury retailers forego the online model, opting for a brick-and-mortar sales environment that lends a personal touch.

5. Your Customers Don’t Want It

Perhaps you have customers who would never think of buying online, such as the loyal senior who insists on tasting your fig jam before making a purchase. If these types of consumers make up the bulk of your customers, even the nicest e-commerce site won’t compel them to change how they buy. So spare yourself the energy and time and use it to continue to cultivate these types of customers.

6. You’re Already Successful

Many small businesses that are successful offline sellers don’t feel the need to rock the boat by adding an online component to their sales model. If you’re one of them, feel free to continue with business as usual. However, don’t turn your back on the online sales world completely. Changing consumer expectations and evolving business models may prompt you to reconsider at some point.

While there are a variety of reasons to sell products online, there are times when it doesn’t make sense. If your small business is contemplating the pros and cons of e-commerce, the insights shared here can help you decide.


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