If you were asked, how would you define the difference between a virtual thing and a thing itself?
At risk of stating the obvious, the virtual thing isn’t really there. When you are immersed in a world of virtual reality you are surrounded by figures, lights, noises and extraordinary goings-on, but the reality itself is that you are sitting at a chair in a bleak room somewhere sporting a headset. The characters may seem frighteningly real, but they are not.
It’s much the same with a virtual store. Physically, there is no store at all. But when someone accesses your store online and sees what you are selling it looks very real indeed.
eCommerce Is Your Own Shop Window – Without a Shop
But appearances are not all that a virtual store is made of. Because when somebody places an order it will arrive in the post, in real time. And you have made a real sale. Not a virtual one. This is what is known as eCommerce shipping.
In the world of eCommerce, a concept explained in this excellent guide, there is no need or requirement to hold stock at a real store. This is because, in effect, your store is a “skin”, a mere presence in the virtual world announcing somebody else’s very real retail operation through your own shop window. A shop window without a shop. For a good example of how this works visit https://offerer.com/.
Drop Shipping and Affiliate Marketing
Many large online trading operations offer a drop shipping arrangement to small online businesses, more usually known as affiliates, where the company’s wares are marketed and sold by the affiliate for a commission, and then sold directly to the customer by the big supplier. Again Offerer has taken this one step further with its bidirectional integration with eBay, enabling massive management of auctions and products at eBay from a site which you yourself are hosting.
Even as an affiliate, there is more than one type of possible arrangement that could be made with the senior partner. In some instances a certain amount of stock could be held, in others orders could simply be passed on to be processed without the affiliate or drop shipper having any need to get involved beyond that point. In a different set up customer service and liaison could be the prerogative of the affiliate, in others this function again could be passed up the line.
No Storage, No Start-Up Costs
The most important feature of the virtual, online shop is that it requires no investment. No purchase or rental of premises, no money up front, no staffing costs, no accumulation of stock. Everything is achieved through a simple contractual arrangement with a supplier and a provider.
Once the online store is set up all that is left to do is to market it, and that is wherein lies the benefit for the senior partner as the affiliate will always have contacts and channels of communication of their own, and which they will be able to exploit. With a large network of affiliates or drop shippers plowing their own commercial furrows the old adage that every one is a winner will never have been more truly spoken.