Should I start with ecommerce or brick and mortar?

4 Jan 2020

As a founder, you’re looking to make a maximum impact when you launch your brand, but how you do this really depends on the goals you have for your business. While many businesses have started out with ecommerce stores for quick global expansion, there is a new generation of brands that start with physical retail first, to create more meaningful relationships with their first customers.


To guide you, we’re going to weigh up the pros and cons for starting with ecommerce or a retail store, to inform and inspire your brand’s launch:

Ecommerce gives you global access.

In just a few clicks, you can make your ecommerce website available for anyone in the world to view. Therefore, it’s no wonder that so many brands have launched their product online. Taking time to foster relationships via social media will direct new customers to your brand, which is ideal if you’re after rapid global expansion. Having access to this international audience is an effective way to grow your brand, if you do it right.

Ecommerce offers in-depth tracking and analytics.

One common reason for starting out with ecommerce is that brands can quantify and analyse every interaction from the people who visit their online store. Using simple analytics tools, you can figure out who your audience is and what the purchasing habits are – this will help you deliver more focused campaigns and adjust your ecommerce offering accordingly.

Ecommerce can have a low upfront cost.

Outgoings are high for many emerging businesses, so a low upfront cost is a common reason that many opt for an ecommerce store. Platforms such as Shopify or Squarespace make it simple to set up an online store, for a relatively small subscription fee. However, it’s important to note that if you want your website customised or coded, costs can add up.


Brick and mortar is just as accessible.

There is a misconception amongst entrepreneurs that it is too expensive and high-commitment to open a retail store – but times are changing. Through flexible leasing, more brands than ever are bringing their idea to life on the high street. By booking a temporary space, they are avoiding the long-term leases and lengthy legals that used to come with setting up shop. They’ve also found that a pop up space ultimately comes at a lower cost and higher ROI than ecommerce, considering they don’t need expensive online advertising to drive footfall. If you’re new, you’re news.

Brick and mortar creates deeper relationships.

Physical retail, by nature, is more personal. When you launch a retail store, you create the opportunity to meet the people that love your brand, face to face. By extension, you are able to build relationships with them and learn more about your customer base than you ever could online. Some brands take this further and put on curated events series for their community in their pop up space – strengthening the relationship between their customers and their brand.

Brick and mortar needs less advertising costs.

In a saturated online market, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out, and advertising costs have risen accordingly. The average cost per action on a Facebook Ad is $18.68 and for Google Ads, it’s $2.32 per click. For a brand looking to generate some meaningful traffic, this eats up a budget pretty quickly. However, more brands are using brick and mortar to cut through the noise of online advertising. A pop up space can act as your brand’s billboard on the high street. If you cleverly select an area with high footfall, this can create some serious brand awareness – all for the fraction of a cost of a big online advertising campaign.


Whether you should start out with ecommerce or brick and mortar completely depends on your goals as a brand. If you’re looking for quick global expansion supported by analytics and effective targeting, ecommerce is probably the best place to start. However, if your brand is all about fostering genuine human connection, and you want to stand out from the crowd, physical space is the way forward.

If your brand is ready to make an impact in your very own store, get in touch. With experience in launching over 10,000 stores, our concierge team has helped emerging and established brands alike make a name for themselves on the high street. Give us a call or create an account so we can help you launch your idea in the real world.