Your Online Presence: Small Business Websites and How They Can Benefit You

Diverse People with Grand Opening Sign First Day of Business

It seems almost inconceivable given the online nature of life today, but more than 50 percent of UK small businesses suffer a lack of significant online presence. In fact, 30 per cent of them don’t even have a website!

These figures do not include social media accounts: They focus purely on stand-alone websites constructed by and for the business. How can that be in this modern age of online everything?

Some small business owners (35 per cent) believe they are simply too small to warrant the time, effort, and funds needed to create and maintain a website. Twenty percent find the costs too prohibitive for their business. Nineteen per cent cannot find hours in the day enough to run their businesses, maintain their personal lives, and include a website into the mix.

Small business owners who chose to skip on a website are likely to cut themselves out of their quickest means to establish their businesses. In the UK alone, the online economy accounts for 10 per cent of the annual GDP, approximately £145 billion. Almost 95 per cent of people in the UK shop online, more than half of them through apps. A mouse click, a finger swipe, and they finish their errands over breakfast.


Related Article: UTILIZING SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND

The online environment offers a more level playing field between the small- and medium-sized businesses and their larger counterparts, especially given the ease of website creation. The concerns of multiple brick-and-mortar stores versus a single mom-and-pop shop reduce somewhat in cyberspace. People want quick, easy purchases at reasonable prices.

Ask yourself this question: When is the most influential moment in your relationship with a customer? Your first encounter? Would you return to a business that left your with a bad taste in your mouth after the first visit? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Websites are an efficient way for small businesses to create and maintain brand loyalty, especially when they can’t afford advertising budgets along the lines of their big-name competitors. Couple the accessibility of a website – especially if you go the modern route and make it mobile friendly – with the power of a positive first impression, and the result could be hit after return hit after referred hit.

Websites instead offer these businesses a scalability that allows them to adapt to and handle traffic fluctuations. Seasonality hits? Your site can bear the extra load. A special occasion calls for your particular services? Your contact information is not only ready and available, but in various forms: Phone, local address, email, on-site commentary, however most easily benefits your customers.

Business manager doing the books at a restaurant using a smart phone and having a cup of coffee

Even a no-cost WordPress allows you to customize your contact offerings. You can link your company’s social media pages to your site and interact with your patrons with ease!

Your website is your first impression. You don’t need to be overly fancy in your approach. In fact, a streamlined approach will serve your better. Don’t try to make everything pop: Use colors and designs that complement one another and keep your palette relatively small. Let any supporting media you use – music, animations, etc. – be just that: Support. If they don’t help, they don’t show.

Keep your layout easy to follow. Nothing annoys you as a browser when you go to a page and suffer through click after click and link after link that are buried in clustered boxes along tabs. Your visitors most likely feel the same. A simple setup also increases the mobile-friendly accessibility of your website; considering 1.2 billion people worldwide use mobile devices to access the Internet, it would be prudent to be one of those sites!

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Remember our simple palette? That goes for your fonts as well, and keep fonts easy to read! While some of the curly, decorative lettering might look pretty in small doses, an entire page of Pretty Girls Script might well wear on the eyes.

Another (non-design) matter to consider: E-commerce requires its own special forms of returns policies, and returns management affect your operations. Twenty per cent of surveyed businesses admitted to an upcharge to help negotiate the costs. A similar number of businesses refuse to conduct business online for the same reason: They did not feel up to the management of online deliveries and returns.

Online purchasers make their decisions on virtual sight only. They can’t handle or closely inspect the product until it arrives on their doorstep. What happens if (when) said product fails to meet their expectations? They ship it back with the expectation of a full refund – and without expectation that the customer pay for the return. It is expected the company will foot that bill. Forty-seven per cent said they wouldn’t even order without free return shipping.

Does your small business have its own website? Do you allow online purchases and returns? In what ways could you improve your online presence?

Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter
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