Since the early 90’s computers have become increasingly relied upon for all manner of business. Since that time businesses both small and large have realized the very real and very lucrative potential the internet provides. Whether a business is based in services or goods the first impression a business makes on it customers is no longer controlled by the door to door salesmen, the smooth talking well dressed sales associate or the prime placement in the department store. In today’s world consumers are turning to the internet to find the things they want. A quick search on Google will provide a list of companies that provide what is desired. A business that doesn’t show up in that list will most likely not even be considered for the good or service and will be missing out on that business, which could be considerable. To bring this information a little closer to home lets take a look at more specific examples.
There are 2 major business types to examine; Those that sell goods and those that offer services. To start lets take a look at a business selling goods. In most businesses that sell goods sales go through large up and down swings with changes in economy, weather, product releases and many other factors.
Look at a retail store in a tourist town that has only a small informational website. As the tourist season comes in, huge amounts of inventory will be accumulated, new employees will be hired and trained, and all preparations will be made to accommodate the short season that store has to make it’s profit. After the tourist season has ended the store liquidates left over inventory with dramatic discounts, it reduces the number of employees and it all but shuts the business down in preparation of low sales for the following months. This type of annual swing for a business is enormously costly. The are lost profits from the discounted merchandise which is sold closer to cost and may barely cover the interest on the borrowed money used to purchase the goods. There are lost resources in the trained employees, while rehiring the same employees the following year would be ideal to avoid the training process, more often then not this is not an option because the employee has had to move on to find work.
Now lets take the same store and give it a good e-commerce website. Same scenario as before, we are entering tourist season and all the preparations are being made, employees and inventory. Then the tourist season ends and this is where the paths change. The company no longer needs to liquidate its inventory because the website will continue to sell those products year round. Not as many employees will be released because customer service will still be needed to manage online orders and shipping. Those same employees will be more likely to continue to work through the next tourist season which will save the time and cost associated with training. In the end the cost of running this business will be lower because the swings in sales have been reduced to a more manageable level.
The other major business type to consider are those that offer services. Look at a small massage parlor that has no website what so ever. The customers of this business love the service and continue to come back. About 50% of business is repeat and the rest comes from a mix of advertising and referrals. This business will do OK but it is hardly setup for growth. In fact it is more susceptible to huge hits if a customer moves away or is given any reason to move to another provider. Now lets give this business a well designed website specifically optimized to maximize search traffic on their service. New customers search Google for massage parlors in their area and find this business. The enticing design and testimonials form existing customers convince the searcher to try this provider. Assuming the customer receives satisfactory or better service, the customer would become another repeat and would be another source for new referrals. This business has now tapped into a whole new resource for generating customers and is better situated for growth.
No matter the services or goods being sold, the internet is a resource to improve the profits and growth of any business. If you don’t have a website now the time has come to stop ignoring the need. If you have a website that seems to be doing nothing but gathering virtual dust, it is time to have a professional make it profitable for you. In light of recent economic downturns, can you really afford to not take advantage of what the internet has to offer?