Should all small businesses have a website? It’s a reasonable question and one that many business owners ask. Up until now, you may have done just fine without a business website. But if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that a website is not a luxury your business can afford to live without. There are some things a website can do that a brochure or Facebook page cannot. Here’s what we mean…
Are Websites Essential?
We get it. Many small businesses run on a tight budget, and if you’ve done just fine without a website, why would you choose to invest a good amount of time and money on something that you may not need right now?
The answer is you may not need one at this moment. But can your business grow without one? Will you need one sooner or later?
A website is inevitable if you want your business to succeed. During the pandemic, 59% of Canadians boosted their online shopping, while in-store retail sales fell. And the majority of consumers report that they don’t see that changing, even post-pandemic. Many Canadians have come to like the convenience and ease of shopping online. But if you have no website through which they can buy… you can see where we’re going with this.
So, should all small businesses have a website if they want to remain competitive? Only time will tell. However, here are some compelling reasons it may be a good idea.
It Just Looks More Professional
If you’re not online, people may start to doubt the legitimacy of your business. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Many Canadians like to research stores and products before they make a purchase, even if their final intent is to buy in-store. If they don’t find a website for your business, you could lose credibility, trust, or worse. Customers may think you’re out of touch.
It Can Make Your Business Pandemic-Proof
When many businesses had to shut down as a result of pandemic lockdowns, those who had websites were able to quickly pivot their business to the online marketplace, which allowed them to keep selling even though their doors were closed. Some even thrived as a wave of “shop local” sentiment swept over many communities. But those without websites missed out on this opportunity. A website can allow your business the flexibility and adaptability it needs to remain resilient, even during the worst disasters.
It Expands Your Geographical Reach
Years ago, you would have to open several store locations if you wanted to tap into other communities and buyers. Nowadays, the same thing can be accomplished with a website. It allows you to easily expand your customer base way beyond your single geographic location. You’re no longer limited by city, province or even country, and all it takes is an ecommerce capable website.
It Keeps Feeding You New Customers
Even successful businesses can have slumps and slower sales periods. The way to counteract this is to always have an influx of new customers to replenish the ones that may leave. That means you should always be connecting with potential customers. The best way to do that is on Google. People often search for solutions to their problems online, and if your business is a potential problem-solver, you want your well-optimized website to show up in their searches. A good web designer will know exactly what to include to make sure your site is highly visible.
It Allows You to Spotlight Your Business in New Ways
Websites allow you to not only feature your products and services using beautiful, high quality photography, you can also use fun interactive media, such as videos and animations, to demonstrate your products or explain complex processes. You can also spotlight niche products and services. For example, Celiac-friendly restaurant menus, which could open up a new customer segment, and could help spread word-of-mouth among the gluten-free community.
It Increases Your Brand Visibility
Today’s buyers like to shop online. They want to know who you are and find out if your business is the right fit for them before they buy. Having a website not only helps you promote your products and services, but it also allows you to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Without a website, potential customers will be unable to find you in their searches. They probably won’t even know that you exist.
It Makes the Buying Process Easier
How many customers walk out of stores without buying because they have a question that hasn’t been answered? In a physical store location, you rely on your sales staff to be proactive about helping hesitant customers. You can shortcut around this problem and make the selling process easier by having a website that already answers frequently asked questions (FAQ). An online contact form allows customers to ask what they need in a way that isn’t intimidating. And with ecommerce capability, you can use a website to make sales 24/7.
It Allows You to Maintain Content Control
The main downside of relying on just a Facebook page or Yellow Page listing is that you’re always at the mercy of the third-party platform. They could decide to change their policies, their programming, close your account, or control what content you get to display. When you own a website, your platform and content is under your control. Plus, it’s much easier and cheaper to update your products on your website than to pay for costly printed catalogues or brochures each time you want to feature a new service or product line. A website can be the hub of all your marketing efforts so that your customers can rely on it for the most up to date and accurate information about your products and services.
Should All Small Businesses Have a Website?
You probably know the answer now… YES!
Websites have become the new main marketing tool where you can showcase your products and services to millions of online customers. Don’t think of it as a luxury, but as a digital version of your storefront, and a hub from which you can coordinate all your marketing activities.
With studies showing that 7 out of 10 Canadian consumers would prefer to shop with a Canadian online retailer, you have a primed audience, ready to support you. All you need is that killer website…
Want some help building that business website? Contact us, and we can get you up and running in no time.