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The notion that a physical address is vital to establishing the legitimacy of a business is becoming irrelevant in the post-pandemic age. Online businesses have cemented their credibility and importance in meeting public demand for goods and services.
However, the age-old thinking that adding a physical address will gain the trust of potential customers may confuse you. Here’s the honest truth…
An online only business does not need a physical address for privacy and safety reasons. Listing your personal address as the physical address of your business poses many security risks. Alternatively, a virtual address can be used instead of a physical address.
If you’re worried about adding a physical address to your online-only business, this article will help you find a workaround that will allow your customer base to trust you without compromising privacy and security. Keep reading to learn more.
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Why Physical Addresses Are Not Recommended for Online Only Businesses
It was once a widely-held view that providing the physical address of one’s business increased the trust factor between the business and its customers. However, with the increase of family-owned and home-based online businesses, a physical address is no longer recommended to establish legitimacy for two main reasons:
- Privacy concerns
- Safety risks
1. Privacy Concerns
While putting a face to the name of the business always fosters a sense of familiarity and trust that is assured to your customer base, small family-owned businesses should be wary about putting their personal information online as it unlocks many potential risks.
Imagine having unsatisfied or disgruntled customers showing up to your home and place of business at odd hours demanding refunds or making threats. Therefore, putting a physical address on your business page/website is a significant potential danger.
2. Safety Risks
Your address can be dangerous information in the wrong hands. Criminal activities can be planned around just that one piece of information. Putting your physical address allows would-be criminals to stake out your place so they can learn your habits, schedules, activities, and who’s usually around.
So not only do they know where you live, but they can also find out when you’re not home and when your place is unguarded or most vulnerable. To minimize or altogether avoid the risks of this, keep your physical address off the internet. Here are more types of information you should keep off the internet to protect your online business:
- Your personal home number: Your business line should always be separate from your personal home number.
- Social media updates or check-in information: Check-ins on Facebook and Instagram can reveal when you are not home.
- Announcing when others in the household will be going away: This lets people know you will be alone at home.
Why An Online Only Business Should Use a Virtual Address
The alternative to using a physical address for your online business is a virtual address. It helps you get correspondence without revealing your location and other private information about yourself or your family.
In a nutshell, a virtual address is an address owned by a virtual address service. When you list this on your business website, mail sent to that address is received by the virtual address service. Your mail is then uploaded to a cloud-based service where you can access it.
Here are the benefits of a virtual address:
- It keeps your home address private. Your customers can reach you without gaining access to private information.
- It has a professional feel and appeal. It satisfies your customer’s expectation of a business address without compromising your privacy.
- They are more cost-effective. You don’t need to pay for the rental of physical space and can operate from home.
- They do not require office space. Everything is virtual, so a physical mailroom is unnecessary.
- It lets you access your mail from anywhere. You can access your correspondence anywhere as long as you have the internet.
- It helps keep the paper waste low. The paper waste in your business place can be significantly managed when receiving mail virtually.
Be sure to use a dependable virtual address service. The service that I personally use is called Icon Offices. (I’m not affiliated with them – Just wanted to share with you a helpful resource!)
How To Build Trust for Your Online Only Business Without Using a Physical Address
If you’re still worried about the trust factor of a physical address, then look into other ways you can increase the credibility of your business image. A physical address doesn’t seem all that significant, considering the different ways trust can be built.
Here are some ways to build trust for your online only business without putting up a physical address:
- Get personal. Most online businesses have a fantastic story that customers find endearing. When customers can relate to your brand, trust is an inevitable by-product of branding that feels authentic and appeals to the humanity of your customers. So share your story.
- Be open to feedback. Instead of being defensive to criticism, let your customers know that you are eager to hear negative feedback so that you know what areas of your business need to be improved.
- Be transparent. Transparency is valuable to customers. They want to make informed decisions before giving you their business. So, your product descriptions, etc., should be clear and honest.
- Provide a pleasant shopping experience. Many customers have been lost due to poor customer service, complicated payment processes, cluttered websites, etc. Therefore, you should always strive to provide your customers with a seamless shopping experience, as this is the best way to build trust.
- Create relevant content. Put out content that lets your customers know you can provide a product or service that solves a problem for them.
- Share positive reviews. Highlight positive reviews from other customers wherever you can. Product testimonials can help flip potential customers into buying customers.
- Invest in a good website. Your website represents your brand. You could lose would-be long-term customers if you have a glitchy or amateur landing page for your business.
Long story short, an online-only business does not need a physical address! Putting your physical address online isn’t recommended if you are an online business, as this exposes you and your family to privacy and security risks.
Alternatively, a virtual address can be used instead of a physical address. A virtual address will make your business look more professional and credible while keeping your personal information private and secure.
Thank you for taking that far and I wish you good luck in your online journey!
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