Why take my small business online? – With the advent of reasonably cheap and fast broadband, especially in cities and built up areas, people have started to change their shopping habits. Every year we hear how online sales are rising and most major retailers now cater with online versions of their stores. They, more than most, are aware of the shifting trend. They also know that this trend is going to continue until it becomes a societal norm for shopping.
We will always have these huge Americanised malls that we have now, but you will find that these are filled with the major retailers who can also afford to do both – and let’s be honest, all of these shopping malls are almost identical in content.
We all have them in our nearby towns and we can all see the knock-on effects on our high streets. High streets that are also identical all over the country; fast food outlets, beauty salons, betting shops and the ever present charity shops, all the other retailing has been sucked up by these shopping malls, given they have the superior funding which allows them to price people out of business. Also, the idea of getting everything under one roof is appealing, even to myself.
Even with this huge slice of the market place these huge corporations and large retailers also have a massive web presence. They are hitting the small business owner hard from every angle – they have websites, online stores, social media campaigns and massive marketing departments with employees dedicated to promoting the brand online using all the tools on offer. Let’s not forget the advertising campaigns on TV, the billboard ads along with advertising at sporting events. It seems no matter where you look these days there is an advert for something.
A small local business just can’t compete for customers in the same way that the big boys can. The latter can just throw cash at a problem, whereas small/micro businesses have to be more frugal.
They have to be smarter and avoid taking unnecessary risks, but when you look down any local high street, most of these new businesses don’t last much longer than 5 years.
As more and more consumers go online looking for bargains this too seems just another way to hammer another nail into the small business’ coffin, along with the ever present shopping malls.
But it needn’t be so, today it is easier than ever to get your business a decent web presence. Gone are the days when you paid some high-end company lavish amounts of cash for a bespoke website that you can’t update. Gone are the days when you couldn’t afford a professionally built website, and it showed – poorly built websites turning customers away when they’re meant to attract them.
The majority of people (never mind small business owners) don’t understand the internet and, as such, tend to either stay away or make a poor attempt – or even worse, to outsource it and get your fingers burned.
But in today’s race to bring in consumers to your business – given that your chances of lasting longer than 5 years is basically 50/50 – then not looking at all the tools available to help drive success is foolish, to say the least.
Recent Ofcom study found that 44% of UK households own a tablet device and over 8 in ten (83%) of adults now go online, we also have generations now being born into what is the digital and internet age. There are approximately2.5 million 13-17 year olds using Facebook in the UK and around 15 million Twitter accounts!
The convenience of online shopping speaks for itself – the store is open 24 hours, people can quite literally shop in their beds.
So, even the smallest of business has to move with the times. They need to get online and become part of what is rapidly becoming the normal way to shop.
The good news is… having an online presence for your business is not as expensive as it use to be. Gone are the days when you could be paying thousands for websites. With the use of Content Management Systems, likeWordPress, a fully functioning site that acts as your hub on the internet and feeds most social media networks from one location can be built in no time at all. Your website then acts not only as an advert to the world, but also your central hub for marketing. Plus you will have instantly moved from a 9 to 5 business to an open all hours business, increasing your customer base. If you can write an email or use any application like Microsoft word, then you are half way towards being able to create a post using WordPress.
On the question posed in the heading “Why take my small business online?”, the answer should now be obvious – it’s where all the consumers are now!
In terms of risk to your business, ask yourself – is it a risk to go down the internet route or is it more of a risk not too?