It seems like all media today is heading towards the digital path. Kids and adults walk around glued to their phones. Facebook and Pokemon Go dominate attention spans. And Google, Apple and Amazon battle for control of the universe.

So it brings up the question…

 

Should you be online selling your product or service?

 

The logical answer is yes. But is it always the right answer?

 

I recently read in Forbes two contradictory stories regarding this question.

I found it quite interesting. You decide on which you think is the right way to go.

 

First – a large brick an mortar store with products consumed by hundreds of thousands of buyers. Michaels.

My initial thought would be that of course they would and should be online in every aspect. I don’t want to go to a store to buy crafts. But I’m not their buyer.

 

According to the Forbes article and the current CEO Chuck Rubin – the company doesn’t believe selling craft supplies is well suited to e-commerce. This flies contrary to the digital era’s mandate for all retailers. You must be online right?

 

Michaels sells cheap craft supplies for novice crafters. It’s an advanced hobby store. Quite advanced actually with $4.9 Billion in sales. Up 22% since just 2010. All without pushing online sales.

 

Adult coloring books, rainbow looms, and yarn fly off the shelves in Michael’s customer friendly stores, but you won’t be buying them online.

Their strategy is simple. Make it an easy buying experience in store. Buyers will come back. They have large red signs directing customers to their destinations (As a sign guy, I like that one!). Their team members wear easy to identify red vests. And racks and shelving are low and easy to navigate and use.

 

So should you be online? Michaels says no. $4.9 Billion reasons to say no.

 

Now the other story…

 

A company called Bob’s Watches takes the complete opposite approach. They are an online retailer of Rolex watches.

Yes, online sales of Rolex watches. Real ones. And real expensive.

 

The owner Paul Altieri publishes a Kelly Blue Book style model online with a sell price and a buy price.

Completely transparent with his mark up of the watches he sells. All online. Expensive. And transparent on mark ups.

He found that so much of the e-commerce sold watches were fakes or not priced and handled right that he had the right fit for the right market.

 

His completely online sales model is working well with sales last year of over $20 million. In watches. Crazy.

 

Paul noticed that e-commerce spenders were getting more comfortable spending more online. So he purchased an existing domain and went to work.

 

He knows his target audience and knows the margins he wants to hit. Average Roles prices range from $3,000 to as much as $200,000 when sold at an auction house. Bob’s Watches has them all over the board.

 

So I’ll ask you again…

 

Should you be online?

 

Which answer is right? I guess the right answer is maybe. 

 

You decide if your buyer is really online. If so, do they really want your product and will they buy enough of it? Then decide how you are going to drive traffic and convert traffic.

 

It’s not “if you build it they will come.” Being online takes work and the right market and messaging. But it can work. For $5 products to $50,000 products.

 

Or, focus on your core experience in your business. Don’t worry about online shopping.

 

Only you can decide. But once you decide. Make it rock!

 

*Source Forbes Magazine July 26, 2016 – Mr. Big Time, and Frame of Mind