Your local business is incomplete if you’re not online. It really does not matter if you have ever considered having your business online or not.
It does not matter if you have any experience. All that matters is that you want to increase your customer base, revenue, and build strong customer relationship.
Businesses are integral part of every nation’s economic activity as they play a vital role in nation building. As they grow and expand, the economy also grows.
They cover farm and non-farm activities such as manufacturing, mining, commerce and services.
There’s never been a better time to bring local businesses online. More and more people are turning to the internet for information they need about anything and the best part is, millions around are ready to pay for it.
Could you believe that, just in the past 10 years, the number of internet users have grown by 600%. More than 3 billion people now have access to the internet.
What do all these translate into? The world is online, your customers are on the net and they want to get to you as fast as possible. Have you ever thought about what will happen to your offline business if you’re not online?
In this article, you’ll find 14 ultimate reasons to bring your local business online, 2 case studies to help you understand better, and 6 video training from the popular Google that shares with you more insight on the this topic.
Your local business and the internet
“The best customer is someone who is already a customer”. How will you measure your business success? I’m sure you’ll agree that it is measured from the business goals achieved.
Every business has at least 3 major goals:
- Increase revenue
- Decrease costs and save time
- Increase customer satisfaction
Well, we’ll just focus on the most common goal which is increasing revenue. This comes from more sales, from more and more customers or helping existing customers become repeat customers. This one goal can be achieved with your business online.
#CASE STUDY 1: Lateef is into Fashion design
No Customer, No Business: He has a small retail shop in an averagely populated community. He makes lots of designs and all he could do is hang his products in the show glass just like every other designer in his community. How many sales will he make?
What if Lateef could take his business online and have a sophisticated online presence? What are the possibilities?
- He could reach out to hundreds or thousands of NEW customers
- They could easily contact him in the hours stated on his website
- He could show-case his designs to thousands of people
- His products are available 24/7 unlike the retail shop which have to be closed at nights
- Existing online customers will become repeat customers and that’s the best part
- More sales translating into more profit. Etc.
I am very much sure you are beginning to see the unimaginable opportunities that come from having your business on the internet. Irrespective of your type of business, product, or location, you can as well benefit from the internet.
There has been big changes over the last decade. In the past, for customers to find a local business online, they might use desktop computers at home to search for a business website. Websites require:
- Time and technical help
- On-going security protection
- Cost of the domain
Today, much has changed; potential customers might be at home on their desktop, or in a taxi or at a show or event using tablets and mobile phones.
Now, there are many more channels and opportunities to put your business online. There are social media sites like Facebook or Google plus.
Unlike a decade ago, having a website today is helpful and I want to further highlight the shift from desktop to many more devices. For example, it’s really important to pay attention to mobile customers as:
- 85% of smartphone users have searched for local information (according to google)
- 81% have taken actions as a result
- 40% visited in-person and;
- 35% called a business after searching the internet.
Can you start to imagine what you are losing if your offline business have no online presence?
To help you make sense of the online landscape, this article covers benefits of having your local business online, giving you 14 ultimate reasons to bring your business online.
14 Ultimate reasons why your local business must be online
81% of small businesses that have an online presence during last year reached new customers, leading to an increase in sales and profitability according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.
30% of small businesses with a web presence and fewer than 20 employees now generate more than 25% of their revenue online according Gartner research-an IT research company.
The internet is another continent on its own so it has created a new economy, which by its explosive growth and sheer size already changed our perception of traditional way of doing business.
Companies like Amazon and Ebay have successfully created domination on areas, where just few years ago traditional brick-and-mortar companies were kings.
However, in order to be successful on the net, you don’t have to be a giant like them. Many small and mid-size companies managed to build online businesses quite profitably.
In fact, studies show small and mid-size companies will be the main growth force of e-commerce in coming years.
Perfect venue for business
In order to make a sale you need visitors to come to your shop. No matter what your business is, you can’t ignore over 3 billion people.
To be a part of that community and show that you are interested in serving them, you need to be on the WWW for them. You know your competitors will.
On the Internet, your shop could be only a click away from your prospective customers. With proper marketing your Internet storefront can have more buyers than you ever can get in a brick and mortar shop.
You get to extend your reach
Let’s just assume you have a hot promotion, are hosting a special fundraising event, and have a brand new service/product. The question then is – how do you send out the bat signal?
The traditional approach would be to send out flyers, direct mailings, bulk SMS and maybe even purchase an ad in your local newspaper. But how effective is this really, especially when considering the cost?
The beauty of the internet and online marketing is that you can blast out any message to your customers or target market for the very low cost of FREE.
On top of that, with the viral-ness of the web, your message can quickly spread from 1, to 2, to 10, to 100, to 1000 people in a matter of 24 hours.
Ongoing success rests on your capability to constantly bring in new clients. Reaching thousands of people by using traditional marketing methods is very expensive and unreliable.
Going online means you can reach more people than you ever imagined while paying less for the exposure – and you can even track results.
Low start-up costs
Building a platform or web site does not require big investments. There are many low cost tools available today, which can help you create sites from very scratch. Many business portals allow you to build web sites from templates.
Ability to do business 24 hours
How else can you continue making sales, while your stuffs are sleeping! The biggest advantages of online shops are that they are open 24 hours a day year round.
Thanks to Internet off time, when your shop is generally closed in your physical location, sales in some cases can be more than your regular business hours! Guess what, while sleeping, you can be making real money.
#CASE STUDY 2: John is into Hair Styling
Earn Before You Get Paid: She has a small shop in a competitive community. Almost everyone is going into hair styling because it is a lucrative business.
Everybody wants to look good and they are ready to pay for the service. With 7 to 12 customers per day, can she increase an income?
Sure Yes, turning to the internet is a very crucial step. She is into service rendering and in most cases she renders her service before being paid. What if she has a one or two paged website, with her location, and contact details in it?
She could easily upload pictures of her salon space, equipment, materials, hairstyles of existing customers and lots more.
She could create a section where new customers in her community or even existing ones can book a time frame in which they want their hair to be made maybe because of their busy schedules.
These customers will surely make a down payment online through a payment gateway. She got paid without first rendering her service. This is called Pre-selling.
How many more sales will she make? I’m sure you’ll agree that in the face of extreme competition, she’ll make outstanding difference. There are lots of other money making strategies she could employ, but that won’t be discussed here.
I dedicated my time to write another result giving tips on “Power marketing and selling strategies for your local business online”
You can do it yourself
The winning argument for getting your business online is definitely the fact that it’s so simple; you can absolutely do it yourself.
Using a web publishing platform like Wix allows you to easily create your own website and enjoy all the benefits the internet has to offer small businesses.
Hundreds of beautiful website templates are ready for you to choose from and all of them can be customized to fit your business’s needs. With a few mouse clicks, your own business website can be on the web today.
You catch clients on the goal
In case you haven’t noticed, mobile internet is gaining more and more strength as a market. Did you know that mobile search of local listings is expected to overtake PC search in 2015? To get a piece of that pie, your site should have a mobile optimized view.
Your physical presence could be in any location
The World Wide Web allows you to do business from any part of the world. Your physical location, except for few cases is not that important since you conduct your business online.
Since you’re on the web-where your customers are, your location is not a problem, you’ll surely have those very close to you in your physical location in no time.
To reach special markets
What do you sell? A fish tank? Automobile spare parts? Handy crafts like beads? Art works? Have you been thinking the internet is not for you? Well, think again.
The Internet isn’t just for computer science students anymore. With billions of users of the World Wide Web, even the most narrowly defined niche and products will be represented in large numbers.
Since the Web has several very good search programs, your business or product, no matter how small it is, will be found. There are different niches, but as much as they are, if you look deeper into them, you’ll surely find your business in them.
For example, fashion is a great niche which everyone is crazy about. Let me help you with the niche categorization and the different sub-niches in it.
Shirts and designs for men, classic shoes for ladies, jewelries of all kinds, corporate wears, local wears and even beaded materials are good examples of the sub-niche found in the big niche called fashion.
Always remember, for whatsoever you are selling, there’s an online audience for it and that’s why you MUST be on online!
You get more referrals
The internet has a magic instrument called links. This links can be shared by anyone – with everyone. When people want to recommend your business to a friend, sharing a link is so much easier than writing down an address on paper.
Not to mention the chances of someone clicking on a link are much higher than expecting them to show up somewhere based on word-of-mouth.
Someone can refer your product, business, or location to his or her friends, associations, groups, etc. Someone is doing the marketing for you indirectly.
To allow feedback from customers
You pass out the brochure, the catalog, the booklet. But it doesn’t work. No sales, no calls, no leads. What went wrong? Wrong color, wrong price, and wrong market?
Keep testing, the marketing books say, and you’ll eventually find out what went wrong. That’s great for the big boys with deep pockets, but who is paying the bills?
You are and you don’t have the time nor the money to wait for the answer. With a Web page, you can ask for feedback and get it instantaneously with no extra cost.
An instant e-mail response can be built into Web pages and can get the answer while it’s fresh in your customers mind, without the cost and lack of response of business reply mail.
To serve your local market
We’ve talked about the power to serve the world with a web page. How about your neighborhood? If you are located in the Lagos city, Nairobi, Accra, Boston or New York, there is probably enough local customers with Web access to make it worth your while to consider Web marketing.
Don’t forget, big companies started small, and if these big companies have Web access, you should have too. The internet is a sure means to grow your small company into a bigger one.
New technologies allow you to take virtually any part of your business online, that include supply chain management, billing, shipping, procurement etc.
Streamlining these business processes through online systems will allow you to cut costs significantly in almost every sphere of any business.
For example: you can reduce more than five percent of maintenance, repair and operation costs by adopting e-business solutions. This five percent savings can turn into 50% of your business’ net profit!
Knowing your customers
It’s common knowledge that business success is a function of building relationships. Unfortunately though, unless you are able to have a 3-5 minute conversation with each and every one of your customers, this can be a tall order.
Thankfully, with the many social media tools available online, such as Twitter, Google plus and Facebook, you are able to quickly and easily locate your customers and engage with them at a deep level.
Check this 6 series of videos created by the popular Google; you’ll get more than enough in about 5 minutes each of the 6 series video.
Learn more>>>>> (note, after the first video, YouTube will automatically load the next and on and on until the last video.)
What if you don’t have a local business but also want to make money online,
keep checking on us as i will be written another article about how to make money online.
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