Why You Should Put Your Business Online: It is a difficult time for businesses in Ireland and many companies are struggling to pay the bills. On the flip side it is a very good time for consumers because prices are getting more competitive. This is not only due to the economic climate but also because of ease of accessibility to other worldwide markets through the internet. However by putting your business online you can become part of this growing market. I recently worked with the team at Equipetstores pet shop in helping them with their online presence. Their website has allowed them to reach customers outside the north-east region of Ireland where their retail outlets are located.
There is approximately €39 billion spent by retail shoppers in Ireland every year and about €4 billion of this is now spent online. Compare this to €2.9 billion spent online in 2010 and a prediction of €21 billion in Internet spending by 2017 and we can see a very clear picture of how Irish spending habits are dramatically changing. Unfortunately, at present, about 75% of this online spending is going abroad but this does not need to be the case.* This percentage can be dramatically improved by more and more Irish businesses getting their products and services online and offering the country’s online shoppers a competitive Irish option.
Setting up your business online, like any other business venture, is going to take time, money and effort and includes a certain amount of risk. However, with the worldwide marketplace becoming more open and times rapidly changing the question is can you afford not to have an online presence?
In my opinion the above information is reason enough to seriously consider putting your offline business online but here are some of the other main reasons I consider it to be of benefit:
- Your product/service becomes available to existing and potential customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Your business doors become open and accessible to all people regardless of their geographical location. Your customers no longer need to be within travelling distance of your company to ‘enter’ your business premises.
- Nowadays it is important to have a website, an email address and in a lot of industries a social media presence, in order for your business to be seen as credible and to be taken seriously.
- To make your business information available, like you may do or have done in the yellow pages for example. This could include basic information such as your address, phone number and opening hours.
- Making your business convenient for your customers means that they can browse your online store in their own time and in the comfort of their own home.
- A website and/or social media can be used to interact with your customers, gain feedback and deal with customer questions or complaints.
- You will have the ability to build a database containing the details and email addresses of customers who have contacted you or made purchases through your website. This database can then be used for sales promotions and marketing purposes.
- The ability to market and advertise your business online is more affordable than traditional marketing methods such as newspaper, radio and television ads.
- You can easily inform existing and potential customers of new products/services, special offers, clearance sales etc.
- Being online with your business provides opportunities to interact and build relationships with companies, suppliers, manufacturers etc. from around the world.
*Irish Independent – 15th October 2012.