Virtual Revolution: Do Small Retail Businesses Still Need Brick-and-Mortar Stores?

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As the Internet enables more and more of our physical capabilities, retail businesses are turning away from brick and mortar and moving their operations, sales, and marketing to the virtual space. Using new devices and relying on the expertise of tech professionals, business owners are achieving great results while maximizing their own efficiency.

Making the Leap to a Virtual Retail Store


What if your business didn’t need a physical location? After 19 years of operating a retail store in Toronto for her boutique clothing brand, Peach Berserk, owner Kingi Carpenter made the leap to the online marketplace, slashing 80 percent of her expenses in one fell swoop.

“This is a time when the population can handle it (an online store) whereas five years ago they couldn’t,” she said. “Now we all buy online so I knew the timing was right.”

She transitioned to driving sales to her website and scheduling personal sessions in her design studio. She directed her loyal customers to the website and gained a brand new audience by investing in a mix of online and traditional marketing as well as search engine optimization. Less than a year into the transition, traffic to the Peach Berserk website has grown from 3,500 to 5,500 hits a month, and sales have grown by an estimated 30 percent.

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Tackling Technology to Manage Sales Online


Carpenter said she’s not a tech-savvy person, yet she’s been able to digitally grow her business using a combination of smart people and the right hardware. She works remotely using her phone and an ASUS laptop featuring the Intel Core i5 processor, relying on digital tools like Adobe Photoshop to design fabric prints and clothing. These tools allow Carpenter to seamlessly connect with clients around the world.

With help from experts, Carpenter built a strong digital presence for her business. A customer built her website, and recently a client helped her establish a cloud-based retail solution hosted by DreamHost and a blog site on WordPress.

“I depend on people who have the expertise to do things (like online sales) that I can’t do so I can focus on the things I do well,” she said.

Digital Efficiency Breeds New Innovations

Without a retail space to staff and maintain, Carpenter has been able to turn her attention to new business opportunities. Based in screen printing and fabric design, Peach Berserk has expanded to incorporate an online dress design template, allowing customers to design their own prints and clothing silhouettes. Carpenter also teaches screen printing classes around the world and has expanded her brand on social media, creating YouTube and Vimeo videos and delivering small workshops using Skype.

How will the digital revolution transform your business? Find resources to operate more efficiently at intel.com/smallbusiness.

You can learn more about Peach Berserk by reading the full case study and following the company's updates on Facebook‌. For more information on empowering your small business, follow @IntelSmallBiz on Twitter.