Most small businesses are’t fully utilizing the Internet
Commerce, the act of buying and selling, has been around for thousands of years. Yet e-commerce, the act of buying and selling on the Internet, has been around just 25 years.
The first true e-commerce transaction happened in 1994, and since then online shopping has skyrocketed to an estimated $526 billon industry in the U.S. alone. Online commerce isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, 96% of Americans now shop online.
Most companies have taken to the Internet to market their products or services, yet small businesses have largely lagged behind. E-commerce is growing 23% year-over-year, yet still 46% of all American small businesses do not have a website.
Consumer website expectations are growing
While there are several reasons and barriers that may exist for small businesses to build an online presence, the consumer expectation for small businesses to have a website is growing.
Consumers have been increasingly reliant on the Internet to learn about products and services they want to purchase. A study by Google revealed that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same, and 18% of local mobile searches led to a sale within a day.
Small businesses are acknowledging the need for an online presence
A recent study by Redshift Research commissioned by GoDaddy of very small business owners (5 workers or less) reveals that 55% of small businesses without a website intend create one within the next two years.
A shift toward an online presence could have a major impact on small business growth, operations and one’s ability to reach beyond a local customer base.
However, many businesses reported feeling that their operation was simply too small to warrant a website (35% of respondents). Others cited a lack of technical expertise (21%) or the costs of starting a website (20%).
Small business barriers to selling online
For very small business owners, building, managing, and maintaining their own website can be daunting. The whole process can seem overwhelming.
Though there are several do-it-yourself website options, many of them still require some the technical tasks of building a webpage and storefront. Playing the role of IT Manager while busy running their business is often enough to stop most very small businesses from even starting.
Finding the right web developer that has the right web skills, along with being trustworthy and reliable often comes with a higher price tag. Additionally, once the site is built there are often on-going costs related to the maintenance and upkeep of the website.
Selling online with ShopWhereILive.com can alleviate all of these barriers
At ShopWhereILive.com it is our mission to make it easy for small business owners to sell together online.
Not too small
With a marketplace website, there’s no business that is “too small” to sell online. Whether a business has one product or one hundred, they can create their very own shop that is branded with just their information, logos, and descriptions. The benefit of a marketplace is that they’ll be selling online with other local businesses, taking advantage of each others’ customer base.
Not too technical
We’ve helped many business owners who have never sold online before, sell their products and services online. We’ve taught them about product descriptions, online photos, and shipping settings. We’ve taught them about keywords and SEO and how to add where/how to add that to their products and photos. We’ve helped them manage their orders and encouraged them with best practices.
If a business has ever posted anything to social media or Craigslist, they will be able to utilize our website for selling online. Additionally, our team supports them, their shops, and provides customer service to customers.
Not too expensive
Our fees for selling online are simple and straightforward. We charge only a small monthly subscription, and take no commission on orders (standard credit card processing rates apply). Additionally, if a business is a member of their local chamber of commerce, they’ll have a reduced rate for selling on the website. Learn how it works.
We’re encouraged by helping business owners get new customers and online sales from both inside and outside of their local area, as well as helping to bring in new local customers into their shops. It doesn’t have to be hard to sell online. Contact us to see how we can help.
1. Your customers expect it.
If this were the only reason on the list, it would be enough. Think about it. Would you trust a business that didn’t have a website?
If you don’t have a business website, today’s digital-savvy (and impatient) customers may look elsewhere. Take a look at this list of specifics that customers say they want from a business website.
2. It provides social proof.
Ninety percent of consumers claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions.
You could rely on FourSquare, Yelp, and other review sites to host reviews for your brand, but you can kill two birds with one stone on your own website.
Since potential buyers are already looking for you online, including customer testimonials on your site is a great way to impress potential buyers.
3. You control the narrative.
It’s true that you cannot control what others say about you on social media channels, but you can influence public perception by creating your own story via a business website.
A company blog helps business owners get their message, mission, and personality in front of their target audience faster than print ads or snail mail brochures.
Plus, social icons linking to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networking platforms make sharing your content easier for your visitors who like what they see.
4. More bang for your buck.
When you use a free website-building tool, like WordPress.com, you position your company to reach thousands more potential customers for less than you would spend mailing ten brochures by traditional mail.
5. You don’t need extensive coding or technical skills.
Because WordPress — and a number of other website-building platforms — offer online tutorials and community-based support, almost anyone can get a basic website up and running in about thirty minutes.
6. Your competitors all have company websites.
Consumers typically start their buying journey with research and recommendations from peers and social network connections.
Studies show that once a consumer has an idea of what they need or want, they start researching, and 72 percent of them go online to find educational material, reviews, and testimonials, according to this report.
So if you’re not staying competitive with your competition, you’re giving shoppers a reason to buy from another brand.
7. Never put up the ‘closed for business’ sign again.
Nobody wants to work at 3 a.m., but some people like to shop then. Having a business website or ecommerce store means that you can sell products all the time — not simply between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
An online store can mean a dramatic boost in sales, especially when you factor in additional customers who are not restricted by geography. Your online presence also supports marketing campaigns, customer service, client relationship building, brand recognition, and almost every other element of the revenue stream.
Combining your website with marketing tools, like email marketing, helps you reach new customers and generate repeat business.
8. You’ll show up in Google search results.
Consider this: 81 percent of consumers perform online research before making a purchase. That means they go to Google and type in one or more keywords, like “best leather shoes” or, if they know what they want, “handcrafted Italian leather women’s shoes in Los Angeles.”
If you don’t have a website for your business, the chances of showing up on the search engine results page (SERP) are zero. But if you have a site, you can optimize it for search engines, thereby increasing your chances of appearing at the top of Google’s results and getting more visibility with potential customers.
Long-tail keywords, meta descriptions, and titles are just some of the things you can customize on your site to improve your search engine optimization (SEO).
9. Create a resource center for your staff.
In addition to helping customers, your business website can also benefit your own employees.
Create an orphan page (one that is not visible anywhere on the site so it can’t be found unless someone is given the direct link) with self-service videos, instructional materials, or even internal forms to help your team learn everything they need to know on their own schedules.
10. Showcase your products and services.
Not only can you display your products or outline your services in detail with beautiful images, but you can provide short video tutorials or downloadable PDF instructions to give hesitant customers no reason to go elsewhere to purchase.
Need help setting up a website for your business?
If you haven’t created a website for your business, you can get set up with a web hosting service, like Bluehost. Bluehost offers 24/7 support from in-house experts, as well as guides, video tutorials, and more.
Want to outsource your website management? Constant Contact has a partner program with hundreds of small business and marketing services. Check out the list of marketing services — along with reviews — on the MarketPlace website.