The pressure to have an online presence is mounting for all retailers and businesses alike. While the majority of larger chain stores have progressed into selling their products online with e-commerce sites, this may not be best suited for smaller independents who pride themselves on their personal service. However, this doesn't mean indies should shy away from shouting about their business online.
So you don't want to sell your products online? You still need to sell the aspirations linked with your offering and turn website visitors into real life customers. With a brochure site you can invite potential or existing customers to absorb your brand and develop a strong sense of the service you provide. For instance, these days we don't think twice about googling a restaurant before booking a table. On a restaurants website we want to get a feel for the environment and atmosphere; look at a sample menu; get an idea of prices; check out any offers; and ultimately (if we like what we see), find the contact details so we can make that call to action and book a table.
A well designed website adds credibility to your business. If done properly, it backs up and supports what you're all about. Unfortunately, we live in an age that if someone can't find your business online, they doubt your legibility. Having no website is like having no sign on your shop front - people are scared to step into the unknown. We find ourselves in a research obsessed culture where it's rare people part with their cash without getting the background first. Therefore, a website gives you the freedom and opportunity to tell people exactly what you want them to know about your business, and shine it in the best light possible.
Although I advise that having an online presence is better than non at all, a poorly designed site can damage your reputation and weaken your brand. If you're going to bother with a site, do it properly. Simple brochure sites can be created on small budgets. They don't need to be over complicated and fancy, just a clean, crisp reflection of your store.
For the small amount of money and time you invest in a website, the value you reap back will be much greater in the long run. Remember, search engines are online directories. If customers can't find your website, how do you expect them to find your door?
Posted on Tuesday 30th November 2010