5 Reasons Your Retail Business Needs An Online Presence
Contributed by Rachel Craig.
With our increased reliability on instantaneous web-based information, it’s never been more important to maintain an online presence for your business. Despite this, almost half of all small businesses in the U.S. are without a website, never mind a blog or social media profile. It’s a daunting notion for many people, but there’s no need to possess a great knowledge of technology or spend a lot of money, as was previously the case. It’s now incredibly easy and affordable to create your own personalized space on the web.
It doesn’t matter what size your business is, what you sell or where you’re based, a web presence is essential and relevant. It may not have been in the past, but it is now, so don’t get left behind and hamper your chances of continued success. With just a little bit of planning and effort, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Without a web presence, you’re relying on foot traffic and word of mouth. This may be serving you perfectly well at the moment, but just consider how much more successful your business could be if people were able to find your business on the internet. Perhaps someone is new to the area, or searching for your details to contact or visit your store, or looking for a product or service you provide – but oh no, they can’t find you online! Chances are, they’ll go elsewhere because your business doesn’t show up in their search results. They can’t see you, so you don’t exist to them.
Aside from the obvious benefit of people being able to find your contact details and store online, a web presence will allow you to build valuable and lasting relationships with new and existing customers. By engaging with them through a blog and/or social media, you can market your products and services, demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, and establish a credible reputation as a business that cares about its customers.
When you engage with customers and make them feel valued, you are creating memorable and positive experiences that will influence their future buying behavior. If they have a favorable impression of your business, they are more likely to return and perhaps even recommend your business to friends, family and acquaintances.
Increased competitive advantage
With such a large percentage of businesses forgoing an online presence, a website and social media profile will set you apart from the competition, strengthen your credibility and professional image, and enable you to compete on a level playing field with similar businesses that do have an existing web presence.
As a retail business, you could also consider offering purchases through an online store. This would enable customers who live out of state or are otherwise unable to visit your store to buy online. By doing so, you could significantly increase your sales, build a loyal customer base and improve your chances of long-term success.
Generate new business
Online visibility is a great marketing tool that will help you to promote your goods to a wider audience. This will enable you to generate more business in other towns, cities and states, build brand awareness and increase your customer base. Word of mouth is only effective to a limited extent, so the more people you can reach, the more you can sell. If your services or products are only appealing to a niche market, or you only sell one type of product or service, greater geographical reach will be incredibly beneficial for growth and sustainability.
Build trust and authority
A web presence legitimizes a business and creates the impression of stability. By and large, the internet is the first place people look for information about a product or business. People are far more likely to trust – and therefore give their money to – a business that has made the effort to create and maintain a dedicated web presence, especially if it’s a business they’ve never heard of.
Online visibility enables people to discover and/or research a particular business – what it sells, where it is based, who’s behind it, how established it is, what other customers think, etc. With a website and social media presence, you can really sell yourself to a wider audience, build trust and demonstrate exactly why your business is so great.
Contributed by Rachel Craig, the senior content writer and editor for Quality Formations Limited – the UK’s #1 company formation agency. An expert in her field, Rachel provides in-depth guidance and advice on UK company registration, corporate compliance and starting a new business. Prior to joining Quality Formations, Rachel worked in research and customer service after obtaining a BA Marketing and an MA History of Art from the University of Glasgow. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, painting and spending time with her partner and their two un-trainable dogs.