The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on small business the world over. Hundreds of thousands of business owners have been forced to adapt to a changing retail environment; adding curbside pickup, free home delivery, and online shopping to their arsenal of sales tools. Others have taken to teaching digital classes through ZOOM and other virtual platforms.
Today, the number of challenges facing small businesses of all types is unprecedented.
Consider the simple act of touching pens, paperwork, and office supplies. Contamination risks have forced service-based businesses to move towards using online tools like app check-ins for reservations and administrative purposes. This is especially true for restaurants, as they rely on technology for digital take-out and delivery.
As the situation with COVID-19 rapidly unfolds before our eyes, technology can not only help keep us safe, it can help grow your business exponentially.
Thanks to modern technology, all these changes in how we do business are made possible, showing us that even the most technologically averse shoppers are willing to learn new skills to adapt to our evolving environment to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
This is why your small business needs a proper website.
For many small business owners, the idea of creating a website is daunting. How much will it cost? Do I need to hire a professional? Is this something I can do on my own?
Thankfully, there are dozens of free or low-cost platforms out there that allow even the least tech-savvy of us to create beautiful and functional websites on our own, with inexpensive hosting options costing as little as $5 a month.
While there are tremendous benefits to working with a professional web developer, these less-costly options allow your business to get online quickly. If funds are available, working with a professional web developer will yield even better results.
According to recent statistics, 35% of business owners feel that their business is too small for a website – how wrong they are! Shockingly, nearly half of all small businesses in North American still do not have a website.
With over 50% of consumers visiting a company’s website before deciding to shop with them, small businesses without a website are missing out on a great deal of potential growth.
Many consumers will quickly move on to a competitor if they don’t easily find the information they want online.
According to statisticians at NASDAQ, 95% of all purchases will be made online by the year 2040. This includes retail shopping, but also extends to ordering meals, booking services, and any other business with a monetary exchange.
Whether small or large, businesses of all kinds will benefit from having a website in many ways:
Making Your Business More Legitimate
In the pre-internet era, listing your business in the Yellow Pages increased your reputation, and improved chances that a customer will call or visit. Now, your website is the face of your business. In today’s day and age, having a website makes your business appear more legitimate, professional, and worthy of earning your customer’s trust.
According to surveys, 70% of consumers won’t buy from a business that doesn’t have a website. While having a social media presence is very important for growing your brand, nothing is more important than having a professional looking website. Furthermore, 40% of consumers state that businesses using a Facebook or Instagram page in lieu of a website results in a negative impression.
Acting As A Sales Representative
One of the main jobs of a business website is to answer questions from current and potential clients. Your website acts as a 24/7 sales representative, giving customers answers to questions about your return policy, business hours, available services, menu offerings, and more.
A well-rounded website helps to answer common questions online and will save precious time fielding phone calls and emails. The more information offered on your website, the more time you will save in the long run.
A Website Can Double As A Storefront
As a result of the increase in e-commerce shoppers during the pandemic, more consumers now prefer to shop online versus visiting brick and mortar stores.
Adding a storefront to your website not only allows for contact-free sales in your immediate area, it also helps open up to a much broader market. Many small businesses now sell products online and ship country-wide, or even globally.
Increasing Your Market Reach
Selling online allows your business to market outside of your geographical area. As a result, the number of consumers your business can reach increases dramatically. While online customers may be too far away to physically visit your brick and mortar store, they’re never too far away to shop online.
Growing And Organizing Your Audience
Your audience is a group of people who patronize your store, follow your social media, or otherwise have an interest in your business activities. Adding a newsletter signup, collecting customer information in return for discounts or rewards, and collecting customer information at check-out are all great ways to better understand your customer base.
Remarketing to your audience via email blasts is currently one of the most effective ways to grow small business, so it’s vital to start collecting customer contact information.
Establish Yourself As An Expert
A website is a great way to connect with customers by showcasing business knowledge and experience. An effective method of establishing yourself as an industry expert is regularly publishing articles on your website’s blog.
Small businesses with blogs receive a whopping 126% more lead growth compared to those without, and consumers are 61% more likely to purchase from a business after reading a well-written, informative blog post.
Whether you sell a product or service, it is evident that having a professional-looking website is crucial for business growth. Showcasing your brand to potential customers online is among the most important business decisions you can make; how you showcase your brand is what separates the best from the rest.
Written By Brandon and Angela Forder of Canadian Pet Connection on behalf of the Meaford Chamber of Commerce.