Nothing is as appealing as well-laid out store displaying tempting products making it easier for the customer to buy. An attractive and well-functioning website is simply the digital equivalent of a brick and mortar shop front. Small businesses cannot afford to be without an internet presence if they want to compete in the vast online market.
In 2015 businesses generated a total of £234.1bn in website sales, an increase on £213bn in 2014 (ONS) in sectors such as Wholesale (£75.5bn); Construction (£2.2bn); Transport & Storage (£25.5bn) and Manufacturing (£15.4bn).
Be where your customers are
Social and economic changes as a result of the adoption of the internet are said to be equivalent in impact to the industrial revolution. Use of the internet to browse and purchase is now ubiquitous – Google is often the first port of call when looking for any product or service. With just under 90% of UK citizens now using the internet (ONS), that means a potential 57million new customers are looking at websites with a view to buy.
The launch of the Do It Digital campaign earlier this year found that 1 in 4 UK SMEs still did not have a website and 57% of those had no plans to create one in 2017. The reasons cited by firms included lack of time, lack of expertise and security worries. However, this shortsightedness may be losing the UK economy an estimated £8.4billion – that equates to £20,000 per business, according to the new research.
At the event earlier this year to encourage more UK small businesses to become more digitally engaged, Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture said: “Digital knowhow can help firms save money, increase profits and improve productivity, yet too many firms still do not use websites, trading platforms or social media channels.”
Compared to the low uptake by small firms, 81% of businesses with between 10-49 employees and 97% of larger organisations had a website.
There are many reasons why SMEs should have a website:
- Sell to more customers – with prospective customers choosing to browse and buy in comfort, you can access the huge internet marketplace. Unlike other forms of marketing, you’re not restricted to your opening hours or just the local or national – but you can go global.
- Increased brand awareness – even if web visitors are not buying at that time you can boost your brand and possible word-of-mouth recommendations.
- Save on time – by showcasing your products/services and providing detailed information, your time won’t be taken up answering queries and calls.
- Increase productivity – if you include e-commerce on your website, it’s easier for customers and staff time is saved by not having to deal with orders.
- Communicate with new and existing customers – it’s not just about selling (at least not always straightaway!) You can build relationships with customers through inviting feedback and responding to their questions and comments.
An attractive and well-functioning website should:
– Showcase your products/services attractively with clear sign-posting and linking
– Be easy to use and effective especially if it incorporates e-commerce
– Be user-friendly across various devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones
– Reflect your brand in the choice of design and feel of the content e.g. luxury, fun, professional, etc.
– Imbue interest and loyalty by including some interesting details about your business, perhaps your ‘start-up’ story, and other content relevant to your business (e.g. trends in your product)
– Link to your social media platforms to drive extra traffic and sales
If you’re a new or recent business owner and don’t have in-house expertise or lack time then seek out professional help to create the perfect website for your business. If you already have a website, regularly review it to make sure it’s still effective and up-to-date.
uAttend is a market-leading cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) employee management system that helps businesses save time and money, freeing them up to spend more time on getting new business!