We live in a digital era. The internet is a utility, a normal thing in the every day life of nearly every person on the planet. There are fewer people without internet now than there were only a few years ago as more and more utility options are rolled out and wireless connectivity reaches further and further. Businesses have moved from a storefront focus to online retail domination. Everyone is online. They only go outside so they can get somewhere with wi-fi to get back online again. Customers are driving past open storefronts of brand new businesses only to go online later to search for something they want. If that business doesn’t have a website, even if people walk past it every day, no one will know it exists.
It sounds like a stark view of the world, but it’s true. And the plus side is that setting up a website for a small business has never been easier. Whether self done or through a professional service, making a website instantly attracts business and can lead to a continuous flow of customers from the first click. Any new business, or existing business with struggling returns, needs a website to be known.
From Web to Walk
Local businesses are the cornerstone of communities. They exist off of the local customers, the people who will walk or drive up the road and see an open sign in a shop window. But these are also people who, upon seeing a new shop in their familiar town, will likely take out their phone to Google it and see what the hours are.
Local businesses benefit from having websites even in small communities because not everyone will check in at the door to see what’s happening, but they will always have a reason to check online. Creating a business website for a local-only small business opens up connections with members of the community who would never expect to find a shop in their hometown. Whether it’s for a city block or a rural township, websites lead to discovery more reliably than the old classic word of mouth or newspaper adverts.
Age of Self Service
People have grown accustomed to the quarantine lifestyle of sticking around the home. This also means delivery has become a new huge priority for business returns. Surprisingly, despite always having phones, people aren’t as willing to make calls to businesses to discuss delivery or shipping most of the time. Online ordering is where it’s at and that’s where it’s staying.
Having a website means having control over an online storefront and shopping experience. Customers want streamlined, easy to use platforms where their information is kept safe. Even if shipping or delivery range is limited, the option is enough to promote a positive user experience which adds a lot to the reputation of a business for being easy to use. Third party programs exist that can integrate with any website setup which give access to customizable shopping options for users.
Low Cost, High Impact
A website is a fairly easy thing to maintain. As far as advertisement goes, it’s one of the cheapest while still being reliable. Billboard ads are for show and bragging rights, and newspaper ads have a shrinking audience. Mailers and fliers are considered wasted space in a mailbox, but special direct emails are more noted. Having a digital platform means access to digital marketing which is a world of its own.
The low cost of digital marketing will leave plenty of budget for additional operating costs, but the promise of profit it can bring in easily makes up for that start-up cost. Having a well functioning website with good traffic generation means more profit as more people find it naturally or through intentional marketing strategies. Websites can be built for free or by professionals, and hosting them can be done on various platforms with competitive rates.
Having a strong and loyal customer base is the goal of any business, big or small. Big business does that by shutting out all competition with the most affordability or variety, something a small business can’t do. So how can a small fish thrive in a big fish’s ocean? In numbers. Having a small business surrounded by friendly people will keep it running, and even keep it competitive with the bigger market shares.
Websites can be used as social platforms to talk to people and invite discussion and conversation. Websites like Facebook can be an entry point where people are expected to talk. Customers who can carry on a friendly conversation with a business will be sure to remember it. Furthermore, having a website to centralize any important communications means people will reliably return to it to see what the latest news, updates or specials are that are coming out. Stay in contact and form a community from your business to their homes.
How much does a website cost? There are platforms that have all the tools necessary to build and run a website for free. However, these often lack a greater depth of tools or eCommerce options. If you just want a simple page that tells people where your business is and invites them in to see what you do, that may be enough. But if you want a real, professional website and have no experience in making them, you can hire a professional to do it for you.
Website developers will know all the tricks to work the content around in the most viewable way. They can turn your folder of business pictures into an interactive slideshow, or a scrolling gallery that shows the dedication on every shelf, behind every counter and under every glass case. Companies can also offer online marketing to help push your new website into more people’s faces, and IT consulting to help those new to computers learn how to fully incorporate the digital age into their traditional, old-fashioned business deals.