A common question traditional “brick and mortar” business owners ask nowadays is: Why should I take my “brick and mortar” company online?
First of all, let’s clarify a few things. A “traditional company” is one that has a physical location and sells its products either face-to-face, by phone, or via mail; essentially a bricks-and-mortar business. The business may or may not have walk-in customers. Basically, it is an e-commerce company that does not sell its products exclusively online.
There are a few things that set an online presence for a bricks-and-mortar business apart from creating an online presence for an online business.
There are many stories about doing business online or “putting your business online”. To many, it may seem too complicated or too risky. There are many good reasons to take your business online.
Here are the top 10 reasons to take your business online:
1. Building Your Brand Image
It should be reason enough to launch a new website and begin selling online. It’s extremely important since prospective clients might begin to wonder how serious you are about business without a website, blog, or online presence. Nowadays, companies of all sizes and industries are trying to establish a successful online presence.
If you don’t have an effective online presence, you cannot expect your prospects to take you seriously, and you may lose business to competitors who do. Your prospects and customers expect you to have an online presence.
2. Availability Around-the-clock
Some fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations provide 24-hour service, but it is impossible for most businesses to provide it. In other words, without the internet. The key benefit of an e-commerce website is that your clients can read about your products and order them at any time of the day or night. Consider what your business could gain by staying open 3-4 times longer on regular business days or holidays.
No matter what type of business you run, you can generate leads and inquiries over the weekend or after you close your store and follow up with these prospects and customers the next business day. In the evening, when your office is closed, many people will want to do their research, but your site and 2/47 salesperson will be able to answer questions and generate leads.
3. Improved Customer Support
Answering questions, giving webinars, and solving customer problems on the internet can all be done online without taking your time. Create a video, a product spec sheet, or a FAQ section just once, and that information can be redirected to clients throughout the years. You’ll save time, but you’ll also provide better service. Your clients and prospects want specific information, such as:
Before they make a purchasing decision
The problem should be resolved before new purchases are made.
Prior to buying, do a lot of research.
You can give them just the information they want, and just when they need it, by having an online presence. This will mean fewer phone calls with technical questions and more sales. Work on revenue-generating activities in your business and spend less time dealing with common customer service issues.
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to build a relationship and increase sales.
4. Starting the business is very affordable.
Starting online means very low startup costs since there are no buildings to build, no vehicles to buy, and few (if any) employees to hire. Just build your site and start selling. If you are already selling offline, the transition will be relatively easy. Sales remain steady since you know the products and have plenty of supplies. The Internet provides you with a new source of customers.
Technology and even social media marketing are things that you can outsource.
While you could spend tens of thousands of dollars on the best website and e-commerce solution, many of your competitors might do it for pennies on the dollar. The cost of designing a good website is very low.
By building your own site using a self-hosted WordPress blog and a premium theme ($70 – $200) you can create a professional site by yourself. Some web hosting companies offer free site-building tools.
You can design your own site with WordPress themes and do it with (almost) no coding.
You can get started on a shoestring budget by spending anywhere between a few hundred dollars and some thousand. Having a website includes paying for web hosting, a WordPress theme, a domain name, and an email marketing autoresponder service and you can hire an SEO expert with a proven framework and Affordable SEO Services to rank your website on the first page to generate more traffic and revenue. From that point on, things might just run themselves. Making regular updates yourself is fine, but you can also hire someone else to do them for you if needed.
5. Internet Was Meant to be Used for Business
Your prospective clients can literally be one click away from your online store on the internet. Now that you have the internet, you can educate, instruct, and solve your clients’ problems. You can accept orders and payments and receive them directly to your inbox.
To get more visitors to your website, you must learn new effective, and relatively inexpensive ways to acquire them. People used to be reluctant to conduct business on the internet in the past, but today it is as common as using a credit card offline.
6. Anywhere / Anytime
Is the long cold winter starting to get to you? Is your property constantly hot and humid? Online businesses give you location freedom so you can live and work wherever you need.
So long as you have a solid internet connection, you can conduct your business virtually anywhere. Most people live on one continent, have their hosting on another, and their warehouse on a third. Taking advantage of the globalization of the world, you could even move to the Caribbean or South America and enjoy a subsidized lifestyle while conducting business online.
You may live anywhere you want, and your business should adapt to your lifestyle instead of the other way around. Occasionally, exceptions exist such as landscapers, surgeons, and home painters who must be in a specific location to do their work.
The truth is that an online business is not for everyone. There are a number of reasons why you should not start an online business and keep your regular job.
7. Reducing Operational Costs
Savings can be significant with just one task. Receiving orders online, for example, decreases the need for customer service staff. Your purchases and payments will arrive simply via e-mail or your database if you provide comprehensive sales and product information online. Office space and associated office expenses can be reduced by reducing the number of employees.
Videos, letters, and webinars can replace full-time salespeople.
Making use of various online service providers, you can now handle all aspects of your business online, including purchasing, billing, order fulfillment, and shipping. Preventive customer services can also be provided, such as answering client questions via a FAQ section or a customer forum.
8. Focus On the Global Market
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you are limited by the number of individuals who can actually visit you at any given time, let alone locate you.
Having a good website, you can literally have thousands, even tens of thousands (millions) of people visiting your online store simultaneously. If a potential customer base of unlimited size were available to you, imagine what your company could achieve.
Having thousands of visitors and actually having them are two different things. Marketing is the key to success for any online business. Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your site / online store. Social media can be a powerful way to get qualified prospects to your site for little or no cost. It would be remiss of me not to mention that mastering the art of copywriting is one of the most valuable skills you can learn to increase sales.
9. Increase the Responsiveness of Your Organization
You can deliver your proposal, purchase order, and order confirmation quickly—in some cases instantly—to your clients. An online store will process orders and confirm them with the client. In the olden days, purchase orders had to be called in, mailed, or dropped off. It may have taken hours, even days to process the order depending on the workload of the sales staff. With a competent online store application, you can automatically track inventory, sales numbers, outstanding orders – everything. Clients will be happier if you respond faster.
Here are some powerful reasons why you should take your off-line business online. Online businesses offer many people time, location, and financial freedom that traditional businesses do not.
You can use the internet in many ways to succeed, whether you’re a bricks-and-mortar business in a key location, a service provider who must be on-site, or a business large enough to go online and sell products or services.
10. Great for niche products
Operating online is ideal if you sell niche products. People who want a certain type of product can easily locate and access your services, which means you can reach more customers compared to a brick-and-mortar store.
Sajid Hussain is a senior content specialist at TechNerds with proven digital marketing experience under his belt. He harbors a passion for writing on a diverse range of topics related to futuristic technologies, innovation, and digital marketing to educate and inspire his readers.