Why have a website?
Everyday we are reminded of how big an impact the Internet is having, how quickly the technology is changing and how important it is for businesses to get online. However, what they don't tell you what to put on your website. So, before you start investing money, time and effort getting your business on line, it is essential to clarify your objectives: be clear about what you wish to a achieve and understand what the costs and benefits of your presence on the Internet will be.
Ask yourself basic questions such as:
- "What am I going to offer on the Internet?
- Do I just want to display my products/services?
- Do I want to sell on-line?"
- Do I want to communicate with my customers and business partners via the Internet?
How much is it going to cost me?"
Conduct some research into your competitors Websites. Find out what they offer and what they don't. How will your offering compare with theirs? How can you improve on your competitors' site (in terms of design, layout, content, offers)?
Then its time to consider the knowledge and skills you will need. Can you spare enough time and resources for this project, considering your other business commitments? Are you or a colleague confident enough with computers and the Internet to get your business on-line or will you require a professional web design company to do the work for you?
Ultimately, it is your customers who will determine whether your Website is a success or not, so think about what they would want when deciding on content for your Website and try to find a way to ask them. You have reached the decision to get your business on-line.
The Internet is constantly changing. If you want your customers to come back again and again to your Website, it will need to be updated regularly so that it remains interesting, so you will have to dedicate time and money to maintaining, updating and expanding it. For example, you will need to display new products or special promotions as soon as they become available.
The beauty of the Internet is that visitors expect to se the latest, newest, hottest offerings on-line first. Take advantage of this fast medium.
You need to consider the impact that providing an on-line service will have on your business processes. Many larger businesses, which interact with their customers via the Internet, have taken customer care to a new level, so as a consequence, your customers may have higher expectations when interacting with you. Good service and prompt response is paramount when dealing with enquiries or orders on-line. Emails are the most obvious example. Once you get your business on-line, your customers will expect to be able to communicate with you using electronic mail. (email). This may be to ask a question about your product range, request a price list, or place an order. You should respond to them promptly, especially if they have placed an order, and then keep them regularly informed of order status or of special promotions that you may be running. It is good practice on the Internet to reply to emails within a day. This means checking your email on a regular basis (at least once a day, though preferably more often).
You should create an electronic distribution list of customers to whom you can send updates (such as an electronic newsletter advertising new product lines or special offers). But it is not only your interaction with customers that may be affected. Electronic communications will change the way you conduct your relationships with other businesses, such as your suppliers or your bank. Electronic communication is fast, with instant transmission around the world. It's cheap - to send pictures, mail or files World-wide. And it's easy - you can pay your supplier or monitor your accounts at the press of your PC mouse.
You will also have to adapt your promotional strategy to accommodate your on-line presence. A whole new range of options will be available - such as banners, electronic newsletters, targeted e-mails and you will need to decide which approaches are most appropriate for your business. Also, don't forget to budget for the cost of reprinting all your stationary - business cards, invoices, flyers, leaflets - with your Website address so customers know where to find you.
Finally, you might discover that by taking your business on-line you change its overall nature. Imagine receiving requests from all over the globe wishing to have your products/services delivered to their doorstep. Suddenly, you could find you are exporting all over the World. These changes not only affect your business processes, but they will also have legal, regulatory, financial and exporting implications. Can you cope with this? Do you have the staff to deal with export orders? The opportunities are exciting, the World could be your oyster, but you must ensure that you can cope with the change of business, the volume of enquiries and swiftness of response in your business dealings. If anything, the "clicks and mortar" (Web based) business needs a higher level of servicing than the "bricks and mortar" businesses. Be prepared!
You can build your own website quickly and easily with ZyWeb - no design or technical skills are needed.
If you don't have the time or inclination to build your own website then choose the Timesaver option and let us build it for you.