If there is one thing, we have all learned from the recent global crisis is that our way of living has forever been changed. And to survive we must adapt. For many businesses this has meant moving online. But is moving your business online always a good idea?
Having an online presence is always a good idea but how you conduct your business may determine the TYPE of online presence you wish to have. This article is going discuss three reasons why, if you haven’t already, you need to embrace the digital age and then will demonstrate why you should not conduct business online.
There is no argument that having a digital footprint for your business is needed. Often websites and social media will be the easiest method for discovery in this technologically based world. And if you are not yet online, here are three good reasons to introduce your business to the online world:
PRO-REASON 1 - Going online will improve your business image. Perception is everything. And it may be possible that not having an online presence is signalling to your ideal clients that you may not be serious about being in business.
By not having an online presence your potentially are losing business to competitors who do one. According to Safari Digital, an Australian SEO digital specialist’s organisation, 97% of users search for businesses online. And not only are they searching for businesses, consumers are using online to compare business products and services.
PRO-REASON 2 – Improve communication with potential and current clients by letting them source information at their discretion. Websites and social media create touchpoints for driving decision making. Clients are able to connect without feeling pressured to sit and listen to your pitch. They can connect about problems with purchases, seek information or answers to questions and even book appointments in their time.
PRO-REASON 3 – You may get reduced operation costs for increased market reach. Online business can be cost efficient. Technology may not replace the face-to-face service but a well-placed video, information webinar or email letter (welcome letter, sales letter, product information brochure) can replace a sales person. And with streamlining ability an online presence can save time with automated invoicing and payments. In some cases, start-up costs can be affordable allowing you to move passed a local market, maximizing your client reach.
However, going solely digital may not solve all your business problems. And here are three good reasons to maintain a face-to-face presence:
CON-REASON 1 - It takes Commitment and Know-How to maintain an effective online presence. Going digital while attractive for business, can mean additional time, commitment and knowledge needing to be invested. It is imperative to know how to optimize you online presence so that you are not just marketing to “crickets”. If you are going to be using digital to ‘sell’ make sure you have a strong understanding of how and where to find your clients online. It also takes time, discipline and commitment to be able to invest in keeping digitally up to date.
CON-REASON 2 – If everything about your business is about a real-life experience, selling online may not have the same impact. Businesses that rely on a kinaesthetic or sensory experience will never be fully replaced with an online only presence. And you cannot replace in-person community interaction and spirit with an online space. While video calls have a place in doing business, it will never replace the personal interactions of face-to-face business.
CON-REASON 3 – The Cost Efficiency May Not Be as Efficient as You Think. You may not need a bricks and mortar location but there will still be costs for running your business online. Depending on the scale of your business, you might still need to factor in costs of employees, storage options for products, permits for running a business, chain of supply expenses, equipment and maintenance including those for your online hardware and software. And all of this is happening in the background where a potential buyer cannot see and therefore may not appreciate the true costs that dictate the price of your offerings.
If you have not got some form of online presence, it is important that you get cracking. Your online presence can enhance your business, helping you to grow and can support you to survive in challenging times. However, if you are going to be relying solely on selling online or wish to grow your bricks and mortar business exponentially, you must have a strong understanding of your business plan, your clients, the digital world and be able to handle your marketing strategy with strong commitment and know-how.