Over the past ten years online business has grown exponentially. In 2012, total online sales topped 1 trillion dollars for the first time since the idea of selling online started. Although this is still a small number when compared to the gross domestic product of a few small countries — it shows that eCommerce is here to stay.
What the 1 trillion mark doesn't account for is the amount of offline sales which still took place for online businesses. The 1 trillion dollar mark is vastly understated because a large part of what goes on in small business sales channels goes unreported. In fact most small businesses do not even report on the segmentation of their sales revenue sources at all.
Successful online small businesses do not focus strictly on online sales (to do so is dangerous for your business). Most successful online businesses still sell to their customers through other means such as: telephone orders, faxes, credit account purchases (Purchase orders), cold calling, lead generation, or directly inside brick and mortar stores (if one exists for an online business). Usually multiple marketing and advertising activities are used strategically to maximize a business' return.
An online store website may act as a both a lead generation tool for new business and a quick source for connecting and communicating with customers. It can also become a driving force for quick customer orders once a relationship has been developed with a customer. The other part is obviously new business sales generation which can take time to develop properly through search engines.
This brings us to the point of this article.
Smart entrepreneurs deploy multiple tactics to build their business as a whole. Not just one part (as in "only online" selling). But, eventually online sales can surpass offline sales — and one day it will!
Here is one perfect example...
Five years ago we saw start-up http://www.simplybritishfoods.com/ join the online and offline race using ShopFactory.
The owner of this company had chosen to look at online marketing from a "back-seat" point of view. His main focus was in developing his sales channels offline. His online start-up website was simply "to present presence and accessibility to his products" as he grows his business through several channels. ShopFactory made it simple and easy for him to get the online part of his business going with very little hassle — so he could focus on the offline growth opportunities.
Today Paul Million, the owner of Simply British Foods, continues to grow successfully both on and offline because of this. His offline efforts help feed and enhance his online and overall sales. Much of his customer base which was developed offline now order online on a regular basis.
Many successful business have started just like Paul's. Although some may grow online or offline quicker than others - those business who deploy multiple marketing and sales tactics are the most successful at growing from start-up.
As another good example — Google. Not only a staple in the online merchant industry and for internet searchers alike, but a prime example of a start-up which took off because they used offline promotion tactics. In 1998 Google basically started in a garage. That's right, in someone's garage. Promotion was the key. I remember seeing magazine articles, Talkshow television interviews and other forms of offline promotion activities. They were all key to Google's success, even though their end revenue stream would end up coming in from online advertising.
Without the ground basis covered by their offline promotion, we might not have even heard of Google.