An online store has sev­er­al ben­e­fits, whether you use it to sell prod­ucts along­side your con­ven­tion­al busi­ness or as a stand­alone e‑commerce ven­ture. Read our list of 10 rea­sons why an online shop could be great for your busi­ness.

1. Reduced over­heads – in gen­er­al, an online store costs less to set up and run than a phys­i­cal shop, although it’s impor­tant to recog­nise that mak­ing e‑commerce work requires con­tin­u­ing invest­ment.

2. Low­er mar­ket­ing costs with bet­ter tar­get­ing: online pro­mo­tion can be more pre­cise­ly aimed at poten­tial cus­tomers than using con­ven­tion­al media. It’s also much cheap­er, for exam­ple, to send a mar­ket­ing mes­sage by e‑mail to 1,000 cus­tomers than it is to send 1,000 newslet­ters by post.

3. Expand­ed geo­graph­i­cal reach: a local busi­ness can become nation­wide or, depend­ing on the prod­uct, inter­na­tion­al, just through hav­ing an effec­tive e‑commerce strat­e­gy. Bear in mind that if you do sell out­side the UK, you’ll need to com­ply with reg­u­la­tions and under­stand tax and import/export issues. Find out more at the Open to Export web­site.

4. Being open for busi­ness 24/7: with auto­mat­ed order and pay­ment pro­cess­ing, sales can be made at any time, and cus­tomers can buy when it suits them. Research* shows that the most pop­u­lar time for online shop­ping is 12pm to 2pm week­days, and on Sun­day evenings.

5. Greater flex­i­bil­i­ty: an online store can be updat­ed instant­ly and as often as you like – for exam­ple, to pro­mote a ‘deal of the day’ on your front page, with­out the need for expen­sive print­ed dis­play mate­r­i­al.

6. Broad­er poten­tial cus­tomer base: an e‑commerce busi­ness is an addi­tion­al buy­ing chan­nel, capa­ble of attract­ing cus­tomers who have not bought before.

7. Improved cus­tomer pro­fil­ing, with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to tar­get prod­ucts and ser­vices at spe­cif­ic groups based on buy­ing data.

8. Increased vis­i­bil­i­ty for your busi­ness: with invest­ment in search engine opti­mi­sa­tion and online pro­mo­tion, an online shop becomes more acces­si­ble to cus­tomers search­ing for your prod­ucts.

9. The abil­i­ty to tell peo­ple about your busi­ness: this is par­tic­u­lar­ly valu­able when an online store oper­ates along­side a con­ven­tion­al high-street out­let, pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion about open­ing hours, con­tact details and answers to Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions.

10.  Anoth­er mar­ket­ing chan­nel: your online store can sup­port your dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing efforts by includ­ing cus­tomer reviews and tes­ti­mo­ni­als.