By Sahil Chugh
For most small business owners, there’s a dilemma between choosing a website or a physical store.
Choosing between online or offline will change how you interact with customers, your marketing strategies, and hiring employees. This article will cover:
1. Why having a website is a must
2. How to create a website
3. Mistakes to avoid in the starting
Online vs Offline Store: Deciding Where You Fit
Online shopping is growing year after year, yet there are people who still prefer to shop in-store. Going online depends on different factors – type of product you sell, your marketing budget, etc. If you’re an electrician, it’s okay not to have a website.
Here’s why you must have a website:
1. Online stores are cheaper to open
With physical retail stores, there are rents to pay, electricity bill, maintenance, and product display costs. Whereas, with an online store, you just need a good eCommerce hosting and technical support.
For an online store, the eCommerce cost estimation includes development fees, hosting cost, payment methods, etc which is still inexpensive than opening a retail storefront.
2. Local search on Google is like using a phone book
While I was searching for “flower shops near me”, I realized how important the internet has become even for SMBs. To open up newer growth opportunities, you need to come up in the local search.
3. Website acts as social proof
People expect you to have a website no matter what kind of business you’re running. When they visit your website, they’ll see what kind of company they’re in. Your customer reviews, team faces, and companies you have with up till now. Not having a website raises questions on your technical capabilities and budgets. You surely don’t want your customers to think this way, right?
4. New marketing channels
Having a website opens up new opportunities to promote your product/service. Online advertising is relatively cheaper than offline methods. However, you need to hire people to do SEO, SMM, blogging, and more.
In short, businesses with no online store have limited growth opportunities.
Having an Omnichannel Channel
Customers interact with your store both physically and digitally. They expect a consistent experience across both. Multichannel is the way to achieve customer expectations.
How to build a site?
Creating a website isn’t that hard when given the right direction. You can build your website via WordPress, Magento, Wix, Joomla, and many more. You can even code but it isn’t recommended these days when you have accessibility to such great platforms for free.
Here are a few steps to follow when creating a website:
1. Register a domain
Your domain name is your identity. From the type of extension (.com, .in, .store, etc) to an easy to remember domain name, deciding the right domain name is critical.
2. Get Web hosting
Web hosting makes your site available on the internet. There are three major types of hosting available: dedicated, shared, and cloud hosting. Most people are opting for cloud hosting because of cost-effectiveness and high uptime.
Note: If you don’t possess high technical skill, it is always better to go for managed hosting so that you’ve 24*7 technical support.
3. Web development and designing
What’s the purpose of your website? Do you just want visitors to know you have a website? Or you wish to push them down the sales funnel and do online transactions? Once you decide this, choose the best-suited content management platform.
4. Add pages
Finish the website work by adding important content. You can’t skip having About us, homepage, services, and pricing page on your website.
Mistakes to avoid in the starting
1. Sometimes customers prefer to touch the product
Having a website is critical today. But you need to consider that your channel will be dependent upon the type of goods you’re selling. Depending upon the type of goods you’re selling, your marketing channel will change. For example, for high-value items such as jewellery, a retail store may appeal more to the customers.
2. Check competition
Having an online business means instant competition from everyone, everywhere. When you open a new store, survey and look up for the local search. If you’re not offering something unique, it will be difficult for you to break through.
3. Don’t ignore customer service
Make sure you interact with people coming to your website. Give them options to reach you – through live chat, phone, email or survey. You can also monitor your social media sites for brand sentiment and check-out review sites to see their experience with you.
( The writer is the founder and CEO of MageHost.com, a premium eCommerce Hosting company. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and his twitter handle is sahil_chugh_)