Perhaps you have been thinking about launching a website for your retail business but haven’t had the time. Or maybe you have a loyal customer following and you consider a site to be an unnecessary expense.
Whatever the case, the fact is that businesses—perhaps retailers most of all—can’t afford not to have a website. As many as 97% of Internet users search online for products from local businesses, according to media consulting firm BIA/Kelsey. So you will very likely lose sales to your competitors if you forgo this key step.
Here are six important reasons why your business needs a website.
A website offers a convenient way for customers and prospects to learn about your business, and it may keep them from looking elsewhere. Imagine this scenario: A shopper has heard that your store might carry a product she wants, but she desires more information before making the trip. She looks for your website, hoping to find a list of your products, hours, and directions. If you don’t have a site, she might find it faster to search online for another store in the area than to look up your telephone number and call. Multiply this by dozens of prospects and the need for a site becomes crystal clear.
Online sales increased 14% in the fourth quarter of 2011, compared with the same quarter the previous year, according to business analytics firm comScore. Consumers are clearly attracted to the convenience of online shopping. A retail website can also help expose your products to a broader audience and bring in revenue outside business hours. Selling online may work particularly well if your products are hard to find elsewhere.
You may think that a social media page or online directory listing is sufficient in a tight economy. These can be valuable tools, but they have significant limitations. First, you can’t sell products on these sites. Second, you must work within their format, which prevents adding features like a newsletter sign-up box or a customer chat area. Third, you’re not in control of these sites. If the terms change or certain features are disabled, you must submit to the new system.
Consumers are increasingly using smartphones to search for businesses and shop, so it’s important to have a mobile presence that lets you reach them on the go. Once you have a website in place, you can take advantage of easy-to-use website tools to make your site more user friendly for mobile devices. This can help promote your company to a broader audience and get your offerings in front of prospects who may already be close to your business.
It’s easy to gauge what works well on a website and what doesn’t. You can take advantage of analytics tools that track where visitors are coming from and which pages are viewed the most. You can also learn when visitors tend to leave the site and when they move forward with a purchase. These and other insights can help you refine your site and better engage visitors.
You no longer need Web design skills or hire a designer to create a sophisticated site. Easy, affordable online tools are available that can walk you through the process and help you optimize the site so it’s more visible in Web searches. If you want more help, you can choose a service that combines do-it-yourself functionality with guidance from a professional designer.
AT&T can help you create a robust, professional website for your retail business. Choose from a range of website plans that include powerful Web design, search engine optimization and traffic monitoring tools as well as eCommerce capabilities.