From Physical Store to Online to Physical Store

People enjoy shopping online because of the convenience. You can shop from home in your pyjamas with a mug of hot tea in front of you while you have cookies baking in the oven.

People enjoy shopping in person at physical stores because of the convenience. You can flip through a book you want to buy, read a snippet of it, and feel the quality of the paper. You can try on the dress that looked so good on the rack and realize it belongs on the rack, and try on a top you’re not sure about and realize it looks amazing on you.

People are driven by convenience, whatever that means to them. Companies, however, are driven by profit margins and reaching their consumer where their consumer wants to shop. Companies like Amazon realize that their consumers shop online and in physical stores, so they want to reach their consumers in both places.

In November 2015, Amazon opened their first physical bookstore in Seattle and have since opened many more. Amazon has also bought a grocery store chain and opened stores with no checkouts. Every decision Amazon is making seems to be targeted directly at the convenience of their consumer.

The business model of catering to the convenience of the consumer is not just for big businesses, however. I work for a travelling bookstore, which would definitely be considered a small business. The owner of the bookstore (author Pat Flewwelling) opened the bookstore because she had trouble getting her books into traditional bookstores and selling them on the west coast (she lives in Ontario). The idea of the travelling bookstore is that she has no physical storefront in one location, but travels across Canada and sells books at conventions, fairs, festivals, and other events. She carries books from Canadian small publishers and independent authors and offers them the chance to have their books sold all over the country. This is convenient to the suppliers and to the consumers because books from small publishers are now available all over the country instead of just in the province and area where the publisher is located.

The biggest problem we’ve had as a travelling bookstore is the cost to ship books all over the country multiple times a year. Obviously we can’t have our entire stock list at every event (especially now that we’re selling at multiple events on the same weekends throughout the year), so we have to carefully choose which books to sell at which events. In 2018, Pat’s goal is to open an online store so when a customer asks for a book we don’t have with us, we can point to the online store and still potentially make that sale—in other words, for the convenience of our customers.

Eventually, Pat hopes to open a physical storefront. Technically, we are already an in-person shop, but our travelling method is very different from a traditional bricks and mortar store. We’re evolving from travelling to conventions, to an online store, to (hopefully) eventually a static physical storefront. Myth Hawker’s business model started from the need for convenience for small publishers, independent authors, and customers who love small publishers and independent authors, and the business model is growing and adapting to the need for convenience for our customers. While Myth Hawker isn’t growing nearly as fast as Amazon is, we’re still very much operating under the same sort of business model—sell where it is convenient for your customers to shop.

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