The term virtual business invariably conjures up an image of technology dominant facility.
Where the mainly business functions out of internet facilities instead of a regular brick and mortar store.
In a virtual setup, almost the entire business is conducted online.
There is no face to face interaction with the customer in most cases.
Perhaps the only physical presence this kind of online business requires is a warehouse or storage center to store the goods.
A location where they ship and delivery centers are from and where it is disbursed and distributed.
However, most of other operations in a virtual business like marketing, product sourcing, designing, strategics happens only over the internet.
In this article I will show you how you can take the advantages of using online virtual business to make a fortune easily.
The Virtual Business Definition
A virtual business definition, in very clear terms mean an online business where the major part of the operation happens through the internet.
Therefore it is quite obvious that virtual retailing is one of the most common types of virtual business nowadays.
The virtual business clarifies that the major part of the business operation is undertaken through the extensive use of the internet.
From the basic business initiation to the broad execution elements, the internet forms the lifeline of these businesses.
They operate broadly in the virtual space.
The physical warehouse or go-downs are mere means to take their products to the customers efficiently without any delay whatsoever.
Therefore, the virtual business came into being pretty recent.
Its origin is closely related to the conceptualization and commercial use of internet over a broad range of facilities, around the 1980s.
It is around the same time that companies like CompuServe and AOL started providing dial-up service based on the subscription model.
You started seeing the gradual emergence of services like email, online chat, and the creation of different forums.
They all used one of the earliest types of text-based interfaces.
These were available across a wide range of computer platforms.
Gradually, the internet usage was expanded across a wide range of services like the stock market, news and eventually virtual or online business.
In fact, with the internet coming into being, it opened up the scope to expand businesses unimaginably.
-A Virtual Marketplace Replete With a Range of Options Came into Being
Perhaps what provided further boost to the creation of virtual business is decidedly the creation and development of security protocols.
These made sure that sensitive credit card details could be safely used to transact business and by 1994 the e-commerce industry began to explode exponentially.
So every successful e-commerce business, online stores, virtual assistants, the various online tutors and all such business ideas.
They are essentially a representation of the virtual business in its various forms and manifestations.
The development of relevant security protocol and additional cyber security measures eased the way monetary transactions were conducted.
As a result, this also enhanced the overall acceptance and success module of the virtual business concepts.
The World’s Most Famous Virtual Businesses
The moment you talk about virtual business, there is one name that comes quite easily to our mind. It is Amazon, of course.
The E-commerce Giant Globally
It is undeniably the most celebrated virtual retailer and largest seller online.
Amazon today is not just a mere online business, but also an experience in itself.
Its annual revenue is inching closer to $100 billion, and there are over 150,000 employees that this online giant employs.
It was founded by Jeff Bezos around the same time when Internet was making its headway across markets and businesses in 1994.
This virtual business initially started as a virtual bookstore and then kept expanding its business.
In fact today, it is the single biggest disruption for the well-established brick and mortar publishing houses.
-Changing Business Structures Around The World
In fact, they changed very structure and nature of the publishing industry with introduction of eBooks.
This eBook phenomenon grew at such a fast pace that many established booksellers with physical stores began facing the heat.
Bookstores like Border with over 600 retail stores were unable to keep up with the competition from this virtual business.
By virtue of its virtual model, Amazon managed to create a business model that improved profitability.
Therefore, decreased the average selling price for most products that they dealt with.
The icing on the cake was getting your bargain buys delivered to your doorstep absolutely free, without paying a single penny as shipping cost.
Borders eventually gave up in 2011 and filed for bankruptcy.
But Amazon and its virtual business concept were not just about creating a single successful product base.
Amazon knew that to sustain, it needs a virtual business that would also create its own loyal user base.
If you are reading all of it on a Kindle, then I needn’t add anything more.
-Start Gaining On E book Sales
As eBook sales started gaining momentum, Amazon introduced Kindle.
With 12 new books being added to their catalog every hour, the competition was just overwhelming for most serious contenders.
Gradually Amazon’s offering expanded to DVDs, CDs and all other elements of various online business elements.
By 2002, it really expanded the scope of its virtual business and even added Cloud computing services to the entire kitty.
Needless to mention that people or rather consumers lapped it all up very well.
Sitting right in the comfort of their drawing rooms, they were able to access a whole host of facilities.
But does it mean that virtual business is only about the retail model?
Is that the only way to move forward to take advantage of the internet and further your business?
Virtual Business Is Not Just Retail
Well, the fact is not all virtual business is retail.
There are many other variants of this business that are present as well.
There are many industries apart from the retail business that are completely based on the internet and are having a thriving online business.
One of the most popular sectors in this regard would be the IT sector.
In fact, apart from the retail business, this is the single largest user and beneficiary of the growing market for virtual business and its many benefits.
I am sure that you must have heard quite often that IT or software employees are working from home.
They have employees working for them from various corners of the world, and they are all bound by this single point of contact, the internet.
Moreover, it provides a brilliant opportunity to allow employees to work from the comfort of their house.
For the companies, it had meant huge savings.
They now have to spend less on creating and running office complex across the world for their employees.
It has also ensured that labor cost and distribution of labor is a lot fairer as the virtual business space gathered momentum.
I think one aspect that has broadened the prospect of this kind of virtual business is undoubtedly the introduction of email and video conferencing.
This has pretty much done away with the need for face to face interaction.
You can now email, What’sApp, Skype and hold seminars online without anyone having to move from their bedroom to their living room.
Needless to mention that this fact has provided an additional fillip to the overall online business.
Also made it possible for people to come to terms with a situation where they can undertake successful business deals even without having to undertake long journeys.
Eliminated the need to meet people one by one to actually conduct any business.
In fact today, this form of business has expanded to the point where different other businesses.
Which were until now unimaginable without a proper office, furniture and the other trappings of a brick and mortar establishment.
Additionally today, virtual business has pretty much invaded every corner of our lives.
-It is About Conceptualizing an Undertaking Virtually
From creating online job opportunities to tutoring facilities to innumerable online guidance avenues, the scope of online business is growing by leaps and bounds.
In fact, in this regard, I also feel that the introduction of smartphones really changed the landscape.
In Fact, the functional contours of business being done this way.
Today from booking a cab to ordering medicines, from learning how to cook to making creative opportunities for your kid, is all an app away.
Ever thought how apps have invaded our lives.
In many ways, these also were the catalyst that boosts the scope of virtual business and took it to completely a different level.
Another factor that goes hand in hand with this is no doubt the fact that internet penetration has also reached a completely different level.
A lot more people are using internet nowadays.
Also, significant amount of consumers look at the internet as a way of life and a source of sustainable business opportunity.
Various Advantages of Virtual Business
I am sure by now you have understood that pursuing this kind of business using the internet has many obvious advantages.
Perhaps that is also the reason that online business has been flourishing so actively.
1. Cost Saving:
Compared to the expenses that need to be incurred in maintaining a brick and mortar physical store, the relative cost of running a virtual business is a lot less.
You make savings in every aspect.
First and foremost acquiring the property, whether on lease or you are buying it, you need to spend a significant amount.
In case it is on the lease, it is also a recurring expense.
Now if you compare all of this with a virtual business, you do not require a regular office, you can even operate out of your bathroom if you so wish!
In case you are in retail business, you will surely need to organize a warehouse or storage place in select locations, depending on your business model.
But the relative cost of a warehouse will never be as much as running a full-fledged office.
You have electricity cost, employees salaries, maintenance of the building, cleaning, expenses for stationery and many other related expenses.
2. A Flexible Schedule:
I used a figurative example in the above point about running the office from a bathroom if you so wish.
Well, that might be an exaggeration or unrealistic proposition, but it surely is an appropriate metaphor for the flexibility that virtual business offers its employees and owners.
There are not set rules, personal convenience gets priority, and you work as per terms that concentrate on your well being and comfort the most.
Often this flexibility and lack of red-tapism in business proceedings also give you more room to respond to changes and adapt to trends a lot easily.
Another big advantage of flexibility is that you can extend the same to your employees.
That means they will perform a lot efficiently and deliver in a significantly more effective way.
Since there are no set hours, often you can change much faster, and the decision-making process is also a lot faster.
Not only is this a big advantage of the virtual business model, but also a big bonus for any type of successful business.
It helps efficiency, innovation and overall performance in every possible manner.
Helps you get better value for every penny you invest in your online business.
3. Employees are More Comfortable:
Often the rate of a successful business is based on how happy its employees are.
It is obvious that when all your employees needs are an internet connection at their comfortable corner or their home; who would not be happy anyway.
Indeed for most virtual business, their employees enjoy maximum comfort by working from home at a mutually convenient hour.
This also works in their favor as they are able to spend more times with their friends and family.
This, no doubt, gives them better incentive to perform well and continue with the existing job that they are doing.
4. The Internet Advantage:
In today’s era of cut-throat competition, a key manner in which a business can excel is undoubtedly being ahead of its peers.
Well, in this context, a virtual business is blessed with a double bonanza.
With easy access to the internet and using it as a means to run your business keeps you completely in sync with what is happening across the world.
This means your familiar to gauge a trend and respond to.
It is significantly huge and makes you extremely adept and is gaining an edge over your fellow competitors with physical stores.
Amazon as an example and how it out-shined Borders.
All other prominent bookstores who are operating through brick and mortar establishments.
5. The Social Angle:
The fact that virtual business can operate from any location means that you can use it as a channel to further better employment prospects.
Prospects in rural areas and places that do not have reasonable conventional employment opportunities.
The internet power gives you the ability to explore untapped talent and resource options and then use it to the optimum.
This can also means you can make some savings in terms of resource acquisition and labor costs too.
Plus the fact that you are giving the opportunity to some who haven’t got it thus far adds to the credibility and goodwill that your business generates.
Disadvantages of Virtual Business
But there is always the other side of the coin too.
For all the advantages that you would associate with virtual business, there are some obvious disadvantages as well.
After all, you must understand that despite the roaring success of most of these online businesses, there is a reason why these brick and mortar stores still continue.
They haven’t all ceased to operate.
Have you wondered why?
Well, what exactly is the pull?
1. A Distant Business Module:
Most times in a virtual business, it flaunts the fact that employees from diverse region work for it unified by a single link called internet.
Well, it could have some advantage for sure, but it also means that there is no cohesiveness among its employees.
There are huge cultural differences, and it is quite possible that they have never met each other.
Well, they might be honest about their work but the kind of team spirit that you have in an organization where the team meets every day, shares a drink occasionally.
That is a feeling that they develop through regular interaction and share their problems and success on a common platform.
That is a kind of feeling that only evolves through an extended period of interaction and exchange of ideas.
2. No Interaction with Your Customers:
When your customers contact you, and you have a face to face interaction with them.
That exchange will be always more constructive and different than the feedback that an online client gives.
When you interact with your repeat customers for an extended period, you know exactly what their demand is and what can make them happy.
But this is an experience that you cannot replicate on the virtual business platform.
Well, there are many repeat and loyal customers but often the relationship is rather one-sided.
Moreover, there is no way of knowing how or what can makes the customer satisfy.
Your business proceeds more on a hit and trial method.
You can try and undertake multiple steps to make the customer happy, but there is no sure way of knowing exactly how the customer feels.
3. Gauging Employee Discipline:
Well, there are organizations like Apple that monitor every move of its employees working remotely through sensors.
If they do not see the mouse moving for an extended period, they look out for possible reasons and try to contact their employees.
But this is not true for every company and every set of employees.
If you have too many employees who are not self-motivated, lack of self-discipline.
Then there is a chance that the overall productivity of the company could suffer seriously and there can be a monetary loss as well from the overall exercise.
While all the other disadvantages can be dealt with some or the other way, the ones regarding the lack of connect with the customer are rather serious.
The point is then how can a virtual business really tap its customer resources and further the business constructively.
Well, it need not be reiterated that customer connect continues to be one of the biggest problems of online business.
That itself, often can be the single biggest reason for some enterprises doing so well while others suffer despite adopting similar models of operation.
Establishing the Customer Connect in Virtual Business
That brings us to the next point of our article;
How can a virtual business successfully tap customers and increase their performance potential using this key link that enhances any business.
It is needless to mention that while core concepts of physical establishments and online business are not very different.
The execution is the point where the challenge continues to trouble business.
The need to deal with them in a structured fashion is absolutely important.
There is certain order despite the chaos that you have to follow at all cost to get maximum results.
1. Add a Personal Touch to the Website:
Remember impression is a primary catalyst in any business, whether it is online or offline.
Think of the website, the homepage of your website as a storefront.
That will give you a realistic idea of how you must look at altering it to attract more viewers and convert more clicks to customers.
Make sure that your virtual business has a rather appealing website.
It should not be as dry as yellow page listings, but it surely can’t be very flashy either.
Go for the mid-path, look for a concept where you have a sober, soothing and attractive content that can no doubt attract customers.
Most importantly, the website should be easy to navigate, and the interface has to be user-friendly.
Remember, currently a good percentage of internet users opt for their smartphone as their primary device.
It, therefore, becomes extremely important that you can create a website that they can load on their phones easily and access it as effectively as on a laptop.
You can make it even simpler by creating an app if you deal with any kind of retail opportunity and want to cash in on customers.
2. Make Your Customers Your Biggest Advertisers:
Think about the popularity that Google has gained as a successful virtual business and think about the kind of money that it has actually spent in ad promotion.
The fact is most times customers, when they are happy with the product, will do some promotion on their own accord.
They will easily talk about the product that they are happy using and then help create a reasonably strong customer base for you.
But that apart you can even look to instruct your loyal customers to promote your brand.
Once you have served a customer and they are satisfied, you can ask them to share their experience on the internet as well through various different social networking sites.
You can even create an incentive for them to do so by offering special gifts for the first five Facebook shares and the likes.
Not only would more and more people get to know about your product, but this will also help your brand get credibility and brand value.
People when they read these testimonials and honest feedback would be more interested in doing business with you again.
In other word you are creating your network with a personal touch in the process.
3. Participate Actively in Awards:
Modesty does not go hand in hand with business success.
You must always look out for available opportunities where you can highlight what an amazing product or service you are offering.
One of the best ways to do it would be to participate in myriad award options that virtual business can have.
While submitting some of these entries can be rather time-consuming, but the point is they are worth all the effort.
When your users read about the various awards that you might have won;
They will be more convinced about your brand, and your credibility would also improve.
4. Appreciate Your Customers on a Public Forum:
For any virtual business, there are two aspects to their success.
First and foremost they must create a good product/service and then they must use the internet to propagate how amazing their offering is.
Now let’s say 10 people decided to trust you and have now turned into your loyal customers.
The next step is undeniably appreciating them on a public forum for choosing you.
Make them a partner in your growth.
Therefore, I can conclude that a virtual business has many aspects to its growth and success.
One of the most important ones is undeniably making its mark as a successful business.
But more than that, a virtual business needs to strive towards creating a constant dialogue with its customers to maintain its lead and keep an edge over its competitors.
Virtual business has many advantages, but if you want to enjoy them in totality, it is important to experience them in their true essence and work towards that end using the internet effectively.
Virtual Business that You Can Make a Fortune
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