We all hear it, the Internet is the rage!! The article after article in the news about Business going on-line and making boat loads of money. But if your a small business and you have reach both income and customer level goals, why waste you time, right. Sure, the boat load of money sounds good but you have been in business a long time. It takes hard work and making customers happy. Internet great for business with hundreds of employees and big bank account. You just a ma and pa store with ten employees and enough income to cover the bill and payroll. The move to the Internet could mean more cost and headaches. You may just have a point about putting your small business on-line but hear me out there maybe other reasons to do it.
Internet has been the stage for businesses to rise, fall, or never start it all. Everyone know about on-line stores like Ebay, Amazon, and Cars.com. We all know about the high-bred stores (online and retail store down the street) by the likes of Wal-mart.com, BestBuy.com and BN.com. And we know about the real failure on-line businesses like Pets.com. If it was a store in the real world, there was someone that try to build it on-line. This leads to the thinking: I know it been done why do it? Why waste my time and money?
The truth is that it has never been done. Each business is different. What your small business is not like everyone else business. For example, take two cars, one is a Ford Mustang and the other is Chevy Camaro. At first look, you see that they are the same: two doors, racer look, big size engine, etc. Simple right! Now, if you would go up a Ford Mustang owner and say, “Your car the same as that Chevy.” He would reply, “NO!” and go into along explanation about the different body style, better build engine, etc, you get the picture. You small business is the same, sure other business may sell the same products but to your customer your small business is different and worth the money. To sum up the point one: No one has put your business on-line, your the first!
I hope I got your ear now but if not, think about this if you put your small business on-line the right way, the headaches you read about with other business that go online can avoided. For example, one of the common problems small businesses run into is cost overruns on website. This happens then a small business hires a web-developing company to build their website and the cost keep adding up. This can be fix with a set budget and do the planning of the website before you go to talk with the web-developing company. This way you, the small business owner, knows what you want and how it meet your needs. Remember there no need to anti-rust coat the website, right! So, there is no need for fast talking tech to push you into something that doesn’t work for you for your website.
On this sounds all right and good but a small business owner should also change his or her thinking before the small business is going on-line? Here how: A small business should look at a their website not add on of the current store but a new location. Many times the website is looked at as an add-on the current store. When the website is look at like an add on to the current store the staff uses the same thinking use to sell the business products or service. This thinking will lead to failures of the small business’s website. Sell your product or service on-line is different then sell at a brick and mortar store. On-line customers are looking for ways they can gain information about the product before they buy it. The website must use text, pictures, and guess what information the customers might want to make the sale. Thus, the brick and mortar store as a sale staff for just this. Big retailers like Wal-mart know they must keep the two stores apart. Just walk into any Wal-mart, the site to store employees don’t do the same job as the rest of the store. If you plan on taking your small business on-line, look at like open a different store because it really is!
If your still reading then you must thinking what is the real benefits of opening a “new” on-line store, Jed? One main benefit would adding products to your current customer base at lower prices. A lot times customers will order the same product time and time again, a standing order. If your customers do this through your on-line store, the online store can have the order ready to send but already have the sale. For example, your small business sell copier supplies. You have a customer that orders two packet toner every first Monday of the month. Their boss comes by first to pay and order them, then in week her employee comes by to pick them up. If she comes late, you could miss the order deadline. This only happen once and you almost didn’t get them in time. Plus, you very get to sell her add-on products like cleaners and towels because she always in a hurry.
You decide to take your copier supply on-line with a website that she could order from. You tell about it and talk her into setting up account. The first Monday of the month comes and your website already sent her an email reminding her of her standing order and suggest other copy supplies she might need. She place her order, your computer send the order to your supplier and this is all done before your key open the door to the brick and mortar store. Because she had time, she ordered cleaning towels and cleaner too. Because your supplier got the order so early the toner was send that day. Three days later you call her and tell her products are ready a whole four days sooner. Sounds good right!!
Now the boat load of money may not interest you because that not why you got in to business. Plus you been in business and seen all the dancing and games. But putting your small business on-line has nothing to do with money, it about making the customers happy. We both know if the customers is happy the reward is profit. This is what your small business does now and the Internet can help. The most important thing is to find the right technology that fit your needs. Without it your online store will most likely fail. Your small business should been online but to make it succeed, like your brick and mortar store, hard work and research is what need to make it work.