Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications on behalf of a number of companies, including Global Response. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.
Many brick-and-mortar businesses struggle with whether or not they should incorporate an online store. This is an especially conflicting proposition for businesses that have been operating for several years. Some business owners are simply just comfortable with their walk-in customer base. They have established a loyal following and prefer to remain status quo. While this may work for awhile, it is not a sound long term strategy.
Change is scary, and not too many of us enjoy it. However, for a business to keep moving forward, they must embrace change and be willing to incorporate new strategies into their marketing mix. Whether we want to accept it or not, in today’s society, the Internet is king. If you don’t have an online presence, sooner or later you will be isolating a portion of your customer base. Let’s examine some advantages an online store brings to brick-and-mortar businesses.
A website can transform a local business into a global enterprise. People from literally anywhere in the world now have access to your store and products. This is especially beneficial for boutiques and specialty shops who carry hard to find products, handmade items or local artwork. For example, when my husband is in need of a rare part or fixture, he visits the online store for a local hardware store he use to shop at when we lived in another state. They always carried items he had difficulty finding. Even though we now live hundreds of miles away, he is still one of their best customers!
An online store allows customers to shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is especially convenient for people who work restrictive hours which prevent them from coming to the store during regular business hours. Then, there are others who prefer to shop or browse from the convenience of their own home.
Seasonal Customers Can Make Purchases Year Round
I see this all the time living in Florida. Business tends to be slower during warmer months, then picks up during the winter. This is primarily because of the growing population of people who spend summer up north and head to their second homes in the south when the cool weather starts to set in. Establishing an online store means customers have access to your products, whether they are “in town” or not. I frequently visit the North Carolina mountains and can always count on discovering a new, unique shop with interesting and eclectic merchandise. Those who have websites generally earn my business year round because I have ready access to them all the time. I even share my favorites with my friends and promote them across social sites. One customer armed with your online store can generate an impressive amount of residual business!
So, while taking the step incorporate an online store can be intimidating, it is very manageable and can open up new opportunities. Browse the Internet to get an idea of the types of online stores out there. Once you know what general style you like and function(s) you want, a qualified website design and marketing professional can help develop the best option for your business. Be sure to do your research and choose a firm with a good track record and excellent references. There are even some website design and marketing companies who specialize in small business, offering customized services at affordable prices. Good luck!
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