If your business has survived the turmoil of 2020 without a website, I encourage you to purchase a lottery ticket – because you are clearly incredibly lucky. Small businesses carried the burden of tremendous economic impact due to the pandemic, and many did not survive. This may be due, in part, to some business’s unwillingness to adapt to a digital era. Now, more than ever, it is critical for your business to have a website – here’s why.
Accessibility in a Digital Age
In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated our proximity to issues and demanded that we adapt to a life where in-person interactions simply are not always possible. As customers adjusted to a home-bound lifestyle, they began utilizing online shopping and phone app delivery much more. Some customers who may have been hesitant to try out grocery delivery or online clothes shopping are finding that e-commerce is easier, faster, and less stressful than they thought. In other words, shoppers were finding that businesses with websites were more accessible to them in a time where accessibility was limited – and the convenience of that accessibility became invaluable.
And as customers continue to transition to a largely e-commerce way of purchasing goods and services, successful businesses must find ways to adapt to those needs and habits. Some studies showed that in 2020, small businesses that took advantage of their online presence and rose to meet online demand experienced 400% revenue growth and earned twice as much revenue per employee. As a bonus, your website is accessible anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and does so at a fraction of a cost that it takes to run your physical storefront.
Thoughtful entrepreneurs are mindful about where they open a business. For example, to open a restaurant, business owners must consider where people are going to congregate. They would be less likely to invest in a restaurant that is trying to situate itself in a train station, because even if that train station is relatively busy, the restaurant will never attract the same volume of people as it would being situated in a metropolitan area close to other businesses and a dense residential population.
Similarly, a mom-and-pop shop selling unique, handcrafted goods may not catch the eye of potential customers if their storefront is in a difficult-to-access alleyway or on the opposite side of town, away from other businesses. When it comes to a physical storefront, location matters immensely. The beauty of the internet is that your website is your storefront – and no matter where you are physically located, you can utilize your website to find success.
Websites are a useful tool in establishing your credibility – which is a valuable card to hold when operating in a market with numerous competitors. One study concluded that over 80% of consumers research online before going to a store to make a purchase. Even more importantly: more than 30% of customers will not even consider purchasing from a business if it does not have a website. Imagine all the business you could be receiving if you had a website!
Because a business’s web page is often one of the first points of contact for potential customers, having a website is important to secure a positive first impression. A business with a website signals to customers that a business is striving to be accessible and available to customers, which lends itself to the business’s legitimacy. In turn, your website instills confidence in customers when purchasing your products or services. It can also serve as a place to ease their anxiety about buying from an unfamiliar or unknown business. By presenting accurate, up-to-date information like store hours and contact information, or offering customer reviews, potential customers can be converted into paying customers before they’ve even entered your store.
I have a social media page (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) – does that count?
No – having a social media page can be helpful, but it is not a substitute for a website. Studies show that 84% of U.S. consumers believe a business with a website is more credible than one that only has a social media page. To some extent, a website offers legitimacy that a simple social media page cannot. On social media, your business is restricted by the platform in terms of design, which in turn affects your branding and your ability to push effective messaging. With a website, you are in control of how you showcase your business and what kind of audience you are attracting.
Crucial for Competitiveness
If none of the reasons above have swayed you yet, perhaps this will: having a website is crucial in order to remain competitive. Customers are not moving away from digital forums to purchase products and services. Businesses are anticipating this continued reliance on the internet and building or improving their own websites. And because websites are incredibly accessible, offer better visibility, and establish credibility, customers are flocking to businesses who have a website and an online social media presence.
Additionally, the internet has made the market more accessible and profitable for small businesses. Having an online platform like a website, in conjunction with a social media presence, allows small businesses to compete against larger, more established businesses. In the next 5-10 years, businesses that do not capitalize on the tremendous value that a website offers simply will not be able to function as a market competitor.
Create a Website Today
The top reason why your business needs a website is that that is the forum where you will set yourself up for success. Businesses must be accessible, visible, and credible to even have a chance at being competitive. By creating a website, you can make sure that your business offers that and so much more.