This article deals primarily with the benefits of having an online store, but these reasons are just as good if your goal is to inform, promote a cause, display offers or simply provide a showcase of your goods and/or services.
Everyone seems to have one, but in fact, just a bit more than half of Quebec businesses do not have a website. And only 13% of them have an online store. All this while 64% of adult shoppers made at least one purchase online in 2018 and the number has only increased since then. This year alone it has increased by 27%!
Why have a website? It's a simple and yet complex question.
One thing that consumers often criticize of local small businesses, is their lack of virtual accessibility and functional online sales platforms. The hassle of travel, the new health measures, parking costs and now the ease of working from home will also make customers want to order their vegetable baskets in the comfort of their home, in flannel pajamas.
Ok, now what do you do? Many businesses are turning to having an online presence and here are 5 good reasons to jump on the trend:
Let us all remember the tale of Sears. The story of Sears, while astonishing, only demonstrates a phenomenon that is not new and sets an example for all businesses large and small. Sears was big… and not just a little! Stores everywhere, competitive prices and quality items, great store atmosphere and impeccable service, a recognizable name and who could forget their famous “Sears catalog” ?!
However… Sears refused to get on board the internet train, relying on its already recognized foundation. One advancement they attempted was to order through the online catalog… to pick up in store. What a disappointment for consumers who, seeing the company’s decline in the face of the market, went to buy elsewhere! They told themselves that as soon as the company turned around they would come back. Alas! Sears simply went out of business, much to everyone’s dismay. Progress and change are inevitable. Just a good business recipe does not guarantee longevity if one refuses progress. Social networking, websites, personal reviews, the environment and customer service are now part of the values and behaviors that buyers look for in the businesses they buy from.
Traffic and visibility.
To catch fish, you have to fish in an abundant sea. This is what search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) offer when SEO is done well. So how much traffic is there on search engines? Just a little over 3.5 billion searches per day on Google alone. To give you an idea, if you were given $15,000 every day since Columbus discovered America, you wouldn’t have $3 billion. Imagine having a storefront in the biggest commercial city in the world for a few dollars a month…
A LITTLE ADVICE: Content is very important for SEO: if you sell craft teapots, you are not going to refer to your business with words like lawnmowers, Ramses II, or motor oil. On the other hand, you will use words related to your business and complementary to what your typical client is looking for: tea, teapot, cup, cutlery, crockery, gift, collection, and if you want to sell internationally, it is imperative to get your dictionaries out. English is the official language of the web. See more on content writing and SEO.
Yes, a good website costs less than having a store. At first, the costs seem high, ranging between a couple of thousands of dollars to tens of thousands, but when you compare to the operating costs of a brick $ mortar store, it is obvious that a good site is a better investment than a busy street corner. With a site you don’t have to pay employees, rent, permits, insurance, heaters, storage, displays, maintenance, sales items (cash register, coders, stationery), security system and so on. Those fees are replaced by hosting, domain name, design and maintenance and security fees. The surplus can then be invested in advertising or renting a villa if you want. You can invite your web designer there 😉 hehehe
If you offer an exclusive service, your site can act as a receptionist by recording appointments and answering questions with a FAQ page.
A LITTLE ADVICE: When you start a business, a site on a template platform like Wix, squarespace or shopify is a good solution to save money, but they reduce your freedom to expand in the future and your ability to get great SEO.
Oh! Young people with their noses constantly glued to their cell phone screens! In fact almost 88%* of the population over the age of 15 owns a smartphone. WHAT !? Uh … ok, I knew it was a lot, but phew! So, 88% of the population carries with them access to the internet at all times. When they’re waiting somewhere, they have access to their phone. When they’re shopping, they can compare offers on their phone. When they’re looking for something specific, they can do a search online. When they’re in the bathroom… You see where we’re going with this? They could have your business/online store in their pocket at all times!
*Source: Statistics Canada 2018
A LITTLE ADVICE: Having a site is already good. But having a good responsive website that performs well on mobile is ESSENTIAL! More than half of online purchases are completed on mobile and it is only increasing. People shop online while in a store and compare product prices and reviews. Don’t stay invisible!
A web page gives you a forum 24 hours a day to show your colors, talk about your inspirations, your history, your values, your mission and to inform about your progress. Don’t neglect to show yourself in your best light. Your page represents your business, but so does your virtual persona. This is an opportunity to always be ahead and showcase your personality. You’ll avoid your niece with the three-foot-long chewing gum who doesn’t care about selling stoves; your passion since your first Easy Bake Oven. You now control the message and the execution of it. You can, moreover, automatically connect your social networks and your partners to your site, put your news there and communicate what is important to you.
A LITTLE ADVICE: The average customer is lazy and not curious. If the information is not easy and short, your potential client will drop out and look elsewhere. Be concise and clear. The choice of words for the search is important. Use a guide to lexical fields to use on the web for best results. We have one just for you 😉
Last, but not least, it’s measurable. Your site can give you very relevant data about your customers. Using databases and analytics, you can see and understand who your consumers are and reach them more easily. The site records sales, allows you to reach people after a visit or a sale with a targeted newsletter. It gives you the exact figures of visits and behavior of your customers by guiding you to make the necessary changes or to define an effective advertising campaign.
A LITTLE ADVICE: Full of numbers and data but you’re not sure what to do with all that? We can help you come up with a strategy!
Let a specialist guide you and give you the right marketing advice.
If you don’t understand any of it, don’t panic! There are trained and generally very nice people who will take everything out of your hands and take care of it for you. A well-designed site is self-functional with the right tools and our web designers are qualified to assist you in making your site efficient and successful.
If you are still just considering getting a new website and haven’t taken the plunge yet, think about what your potential customers are doing online while they wait in line… Think about it;)