Basically, instead of store-front, you become back room.
Operating your business online, particularly if you have a website, requires a whole new set of skills. Instead of facing your customer, you are sitting in front of a computer. Instead of guiding customers to the hot new product on your shelves, you are taking photos. And those photographs need to show a degree of photographic finesse to compete with the big boys. You need to constantly update your site because successful sites get frequent visits from their regulars. And you have to be on the ball with stock control. Nothing upsets a customer more than wanting a product on your website but being told "Sorry - it is out of stock".
The speed of this transition is really quite scary. Who would have thought, even 5 years ago, that a significant number of traders would have a website and an even greater number would be offered regular exposure on Facebook, Foursquare, and other social networking outlets. Who would have thought that over 50% of mobiles in Australia would be smart phones capable of doing basic things like - "Find the nearest T-shirt shop". Who would have thought that so many customers would be asking "Do you have a website?"
It may not be what we signed up for but online retailing is a reality and, like anything else we tackle in business, needs to be done well.