If you own or manage a brick-and-mortar comic store in the era of a global pandemic, chances are you’ve been considering opening an online store. It’s an essential way to keep your business running if there’s another COVID-19 lockdown. Maybe you’re hesitant to add an online store because you’re not that tech-savvy. Here’s what you need to know about the financial aspect of opening an online location, along with some considerations and warnings.

Financial Benefits of an Online Store

There are several financial benefits for adding a virtual store.

A Global Audience

One of the main perks is a considerable increase in customers. When you have an online business, there are no barriers for customers accessing your store, such as traveling to your store, getting lost, finding a parking spot and other issues. When you have a virtual store, you get a global audience.

24 Hour Store Access

Running an online comic store means the lights never go out. In other words, your store is open 24/7 for your customers. What’s more, you don’t have to pay overtime or worry about costly electrical bills.

Time is Money, and an Online Store will Save You Both

Besides saving time from not having to run a brick-and-mortar store, a virtual store can also save you money. Consider how tools, such as chatbots, retail apps, marketing automation and other tools can help your business run smoothly.  If you feel challenged by technology, don’t worry.  All of this can be set up for you.  It’s about as simple as checking email. Furthermore, you save money on labor, while still delivering exceptional customer service. The cost of staffing is less since there’s no need to hire employees during “dead” periods.

Less operational costs There aren’t as many operational expenses compared to running a physical store.  Keep in mind that it can cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a brick-and-mortar business, while the amount for opening up a virtual store is much smaller.

Cost Requirements

Basically, there are about six required costs when launching a virtual store:

Domain name You’ll need to get a domain name for your website. Domain names are exceptionally cheap. It’s best to get a .com domain name because most people will use the .com version of a website when typing it into their browsers.

Hosting This is the fee for hosting your website. If you don’t have it, you can’t connect your website to the internet, which means you won’t have visitors. The two types of hosting are shared hosting and private hosting.

Inventory Of course, you’ll need inventory, which is what you have to sell.

Payment processing Payment processors, such as Shopify, charge about two to three percent, along with $0.30 per transaction.

Shipping and packing This cost can depend on the type of shipping carrier you use.

Staffing Do you plan to add employees for staffing your new online store. If so, determine how many people you need and factor in the cost.

Startup Cost Factors

When opening a virtual store, your startup expenses can depend on factors, such as portability, scalability, revenue velocity and barriers to entry.

Portability One of the primary advantages of an online store is that it’s portable. In other words, you can run your store from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection.

Scalability Your online business is exceptionally scalable. Because your computer server takes orders, as well as manages them, you only need to add extra help as your business grows. 

Revenue velocity How long will it take after launching your business can you expect to generate a good profit? The revenue velocity of an online store is considerably less compared to stores that buy inventory upfront.

Barriers to Entry Also, the barriers to entry will be less. This is due to the low upfront investment, besides the ease of setting up a website.  Barriers to entry, which is an economic term, refers to high start-up expenses, as well as other barriers, that prevent new competitors from being able to easily enter a business. They’re designed for protecting an industry’s revenues.

Other Considerations and Warnings

  • You’ll still have to think about things, such as stock levels. However, software programs can warn you when your stock is running low as well as if there’s an increase in demand for specific items. Moreover, you can know precisely where the demand is located.
  • Depending on the business of your brick-and-mortar store, your costs can be minimal for your exponential return.
  • Consider that the amount you’d be spending in a physical location can run as high as thousands of dollars, while an online store can be set up for only a small fraction of the cost.
  • You’ll be able to surface “cold” stock that’s been taking up precious space in your back room or on shelves of your physical store.
  • Decide if you want to offer curbside service, in town delivery, or even worldwide shipping.

We can give you guidance

Tackling online can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help you. If you feel technically challenged and want to avoid dealing with any website setup, contact us. Manage Comics can help you get online with a professionally installed Shopify solution. We handle everything involved with setting up your online store, which includes payment processing and security.  Book a meeting with Brian of Manage Comics today, and we’ll break down how simple all of this can be.