21st century business

By Bronte Chandler

With the popularity of online shopping increasing, Australians are spending more and more money online while businesses are saving big bucks by operating their store on the world wide web. 

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Cartoon of an online business transaction. Credit: 2CC

In this day and age businesses that only exist online are not uncommon – THEY require very little capital, are widely accessible and the owner or employees can work from virtually anywhere, including the comfort of their own home.

In 2015 Australians spent a record $16.6 billion in online sales domestically, which is up 9 percent from 2014.

Online businesses are much more cost effective and reduce long-term costs as they don’t need to pay rent for a shop premises, utility bills and sales staff.

Initially businesses may have to pay a large fee to have their website created and to secure their desired domain name, but most businesses only end up employing a few staff members to look after and maintain their websites and social media accounts.

The internet is saturated with online retail stores, because it is so easy for a new retail business idea to become a reality.

Online business in action

These factors all benefited Larissa Walsh, a 20-year-old entrepreneur from Melbourne, who owns and single handedly runs an online clothing rental boutique, Rent A Dress AU (RAD).

RAD was set up and run only on Instagram for three years but has recently developed a website after the demand and following outgrew a single Instagram account.

RAD now has a website with categories, subcategories and search boxes to make searching through hundreds of pieces of clothing easier.

Each item on RAD is owned by individuals who pay a small fee ($9.95) per item to upload their clothing which can then be rented by anyone anywhere in Australia.

Walsh is the only employee of her business. She manages the website and Instagram account as well as making sure her customers and rentees are satisfied

The business gained major attention in 2013 as it was the first of its kind, with copycats popping up everywhere.

The business model was successful because individuals are highly involved in RAD by renting out their clothes or hiring other people’s clothes.

The major – although unlikely – threat posed to the online business world is the failure of the Internet resulting in no access for customers and no possible sales.

The web provides a wider customer base and products can be sold all over the country and internationally, instead of only to customers who visited the location of the shop front.

With the introduction of online shopping apps and a live chat to have your queries instantly answered, online retailers are making it an easy experience for consumers.

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