Saturday, November 28, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be On-line: Is It Important To Small Businesses?

For most of us, what we do in business is a compromise, between what we would like to do, what we should do, what is practical for us to do, and what we can afford to do. Indeed, in striking these balances we strive to make the right decisions about what is most important to the business.

Why should you take your business online?

Think of it as a meal.  There is (often) a difference in what we would like to eat, what is good for us and what we can afford to eat. I still think the same precept holds true. If you are short of funds you might take a sandwich to work rather than go out and buy a Big Mac.

In the context of this discussion the critical decision is "do we really need a website and if so, what kind?"Will our customers use the Internet or do they prefer to have the face-to-face contact? Even with a strong customer base, the Internet allows us to expand our market to those people who make a majority of their purchases online. Now that more women than men are using the Internet, a business owner must ask this question, “Who are my primary customers?”  In the majority of businesses it will be women as they are the prime purchasers of most products.

In addition, when it is cold and wet outside most people would prefer to shop online than have to expose themselves to the elements.  This is not to say that they would have bought from the Internet as most people like to feel, touch, smell or taste what they buy as it all adds up to the shopping experience.  But if the store had offered a special price reduction to buy online with a guarantee that offered satisfaction to the purchaser, might not the customer be tempted, especially if they were having cold weather?

An added factor is that email marketing (customer relationship marketing) helps the business owner create and strengthen loyalty with its existing customers. Whatever the term, building stronger relationships with existing customers is simply good business practice. It's a lot cheaper to keep existing customers than to find new ones.

What are the essentials you need to participate in the Internet market?

You need a website and that is where a number of small companies hesitate as they believe that a web- site is too expensive for them to develop and too technical for them to maintain.  A website does not need to be too expensive or too technical. There are excellent pre-prepared websites or software that allow you to build your own.

Consider your website to be your shop window for local business.  You would dress your window at least once a month, or more often, to show passers-by what you have to offer.  So should your website present information to advise your Internet visitors about what you can help them with/  Internet Visitors are looking for answers to the problems they have. Your information must help them to resolve these problems. Promote your website address (URL) so that newcomers to your area will recognize it as a sign of quality products, good business practice,  and great customer service.

Ellen Rosen Singer, MBA, Managing Director, BizBuilding Inc. and Executive Director, - 917 678-8937

No comments:

Post a Comment