Businesses find value in brick-and-mortar, online retail platforms
Having both increases a shopís exposure, enlarges its market

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

March 31, 2015

Bob Flowers uses a computer at Home of the Brave. The store will soon have a website.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

OCONOMOWOC - For many years the dialogue has revolved around having a brick-and-mortar retail location or an ecommerce site, but Sweet Pís Pantry owner Sharon Pavich said the answer for her was to have both.

She said people will hear about your product, and in her case taste the toffee, and then later stop by the store to buy some or later go online to purchase it.

By having both types of stores, Pavich said, one helps the other and vice-versa.

Mary Jane Sanchez, owner of Dynamismo Marketing & Events, said customers still want to touch an item before buying it, but they also like the convenience of going online to purchase the item.

When it comes to customer service, a store owner can make the sale at that moment, but online gives the customer more time to walk away, Sanchez said.

Pavich emphasized having lots of detail about products on a companyís website because the business owner wonít necessarily be available to respond to questions immediately.

Another scenario that may happen, Sanchez said, is that a person may see an item online and then go to the store to buy it.  He or she may even go to the store and see it, wait to make the purchase  to think about it and then later decide to go online to buy it. Often people will purchase via a companyís website an item and then have it mailed to a friend out of state.

Pavich said when her business was smaller and was selling primarily at farmers markets, people would go online to make purchases for themselves and others. She later added the Oconomowoc location at 169 E. Wisconsin Ave.

ďA physical presence really helps to sell the online store because people still like to touch and feel,Ē she said.

Other advice Pavich offered was to have good photos on an ecommerce site. Some companies like Shopify make it relatively easy to build such sites, she said.

Bob Flowers, owner of Home of the Brave in downtown Waukesha at 231 South St., is working with Sanchez to create a website in order to increase exposure and sales.

He said he intends to ship items his customers purchase and will take inventory from the store, or if itís not available there, get it elsewhere for the customer right away. Heís hoping to have up by the end of the week.

Sanchez said having only a brick-and-mortar location limits a business to its geographical location. But the online store opens up the possibilities for a business to be national or international.