Why Your Business’s Online Presence Matters EVEN MORE During COVID-19
Consumer trends in the United States have suggested that small businesses will need to establish a greater online presence if they wish to remain relevant in their respective markets, with some economists estimating that 95% of purchases will be through eCommerce by the year 2040. While this trend is nothing surprising and the need to go digital has become increasingly obvious in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for shops to do business online. Establishing your business’ presence online is perhaps the best way to ensure that you’re able to stay in business. With shoppers staying out of stores and browsing the web instead, it’s more important than ever for businesses to make the transition from in-person to online shopping and establish a presence there.
Half of Small Businesses Miss the Mark
Unfortunately, at a time when a small business’ online presence can be the difference between their success or failure, almost half of all small businesses don’t have a website or any other presence online. Regardless of what prevents you from creating a website – whether it’s the belief that your business isn’t big enough for one, or that website maintenance just doesn’t seem manageable to you – it must be done to ensure that you’re able to weather not only the pandemic, but the years to come as well.
Establishing a presence online not only serves businesses well during times like these; its effects will serve you and your business well long after the pandemic. One such long-term benefit of moving online is that doing so allows customers to see what’s available to them before they ever step foot in your store. This knowledge minimizes the shopper’s need to go from place to place in order to find what they’re looking for. Restaurants, for example, accomplish this by having up-to-date and accurate menus posted online, while stores serve their customers in this way by providing them with a digital, user-friendly catalog of their inventory. Additionally, websites signal to customers that your business is legitimate. A survey done by the research firm Clutch found that “people expect businesses to have their own websites, just as they used to expect businesses to have a real physical business address.”
Estimated percentage of all purchases that will be conducted via e-commerce by 2040.
Online Experiences Build Lifelong Customers
A customer’s positive online experience can have an effect greater than a mere sale – a positive online experience can forever shape that customer’s relationship with your store, causing them to come back when they otherwise wouldn’t. With the cost of finding new customers up to 6x greater than the cost of retaining one, it makes sense to create an experience for the customer that makes them want to return. Such loyal customers have been found to be worth up to 10x as much after their initial purchase, making the time and effort put into creating a website built with this aim in mind more than worth it.
How many eyes your website attracts will depend on your deliberate efforts to get their attention. An important part of making certain that your business’ online presence is lasting includes creating and maintaining active Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to help your customers find such useful information as whether or not your shop is open, whether masks are required, whether or not you do dine-in, your new hours, etc. In addition to serving as a platform for that sort of information, social media also gives you the opportunity to reach out to prospective customers through posts, advertisements, and updates without the customer having to do very much searching; and during a time when more and more businesses are shutting their doors, simply letting customers know that you’re still around could perhaps be the greatest benefit of the utilization of social media.
Coronavirus is an Opportunity to Adapt and Expand
COVID-19 is affecting daily life for everyone, but as a small business owner, you can prepare and adapt in ways that make life easier for you and your customers. Though circumstances may seem to suggest otherwise, the future is not bleak for you and your small business. Successfully making this transition and establishing your small business’ presence online greatly increases your odds of staying open and rapidly expanding your customer base. Having an online presence during the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t simply good for business, it also simplifies the customer’s experience at your store and makes life easier for them as well.
If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me I cannot see any way in which I would ever have made progress.
PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE