Retailers in all sectors, from start-up firms to giants like Tesco, are reconsidering their bricks and mortar stores in an age when consumers can order everything they need online.
We've looked at some of the big-name brands who are taking this step, and compiled a step-by-step guide to following in their digital footsteps.
Cost reduction Online-only businesses needs less equipment, floor space, staff - in fact, less of everything that costs money, as well as lower energy bills.
Consumer trend IMRG/Capgemini reports that 17 per cent of the UK's retail market is now web-based, with online sales to jump to £77 billion in 2012. UK is now the 'most internet-based major economy' (BBC, 2012)
Shopping convenience More than half of people polled in a MyHigh.st survey said they save time and money by shopping online, and four in ten appreciate the convenience of shopping from home.
Smart deals Recent Rackspace research found that nearly a third of smartphone shoppers are using promotional codes that save them money.
Perfect location The online model allows businesses to set up anywhere and target markets they wouldn't previously have been able to reach. Internet sales already represent the equivalent of 60m sq ft in retail space.
How to start or move a business online
If you're convinced of the benefits of migrating your existing business to the online space, or starting a new one, follow this step-by-step guide.
Establish a business plan A good business plan can help kick-start your online business venture. There's plenty of places you can get tips on writing a good business plan; the Prince's Trust offers a free resource pack to get you started.
Plan your strategy Don't blow your budget on a one-off campaign - sites such as kickstarter.com can help you get funding from like-minded supporters of your business idea.
Think about your USP The online space gets more crowded by the day - what does your company offer that makes it unique? What are your potential customers looking for, and can you deliver it better, faster, cheaper?
Pick the right domain name You can buy a domain in the UK for as little as £1.99, Even if your business idea doesn't work out, your domain might be worth something - Apple recently purchased www.iCloud.com for a whopping $4.5million!
Set up social media pages Facebook, Twitter and blogs are powerful ways to keep in touch with your customers. Remember that social media is a conversation - what does your company contribute to it?
Get your website right Building a website is cheaper than ever with free platforms such as Wordpress and Joomla. For the professional touch, look to websites like freelancer.com to find expert designers. Optimise your site's content to reflect your customers' search terms.
Plan for growth Decide whether you want to increase market share, diversify your offering or enter into a joint venture with strategic partners. Time your next move carefully - can you expand while keeping the same level of service?
Keep things simple All new business owners face the temptation to diversify early on, thinking they'll make even more money if they start offering more products or services. Focus on your core business and concentrate on delivering your USP.
Keep costs low List your company's key functions and buy only the equipment you need. Consider freelancers rather than full-time employees to begin with, and take advantage of cost-effective web marketing channels.