A few weeks ago, my husband and I accompanied our seven year old son on stage to receive his medal during recognition day in school. He was commended “with honours” and we were very proud parents. He made a very successful transition from home school to classroom based education. My husband and I home-schooled (using Abeka. Check out their website for more information about it) our son since he was five years old and our son quickly adapted to his new environment socially, emotionally and linguistically (he has to learn a new language so he can communicate with his teacher and classmates).

After the school event, we asked our son where he wants to celebrate. He requested if we could have it in the new Korean Buffet Restaurant about a mile away from our place.

I’ve never been to the place yet so I did a quick research on my phone. Satisfied with the information we’ve got from Facebook and the many positive reviews it received from its customers, I quickly made reservations for four. Within seconds, I received a reply from the management.

That night, my family of four had a wonderful night in this Korean Buffet Restaurant. The food experience was great and we really had a great time.

It’s a good thing that the restaurant has a Facebook page that we can check. Decades ago, people had to travel and go through pains just to find out if the restaurant or hotel is a good place. But now, almost everything can be accessed through your mobile devices, thanks to the internet.

The internet is really a gateway to the world and to people. You can get connected with anyone or to anything anywhere in the world anytime of the day. It’s very convenient that with just a tap on your smart phone or your laptop, you can make a hotel booking or a restaurant reservation without leaving the comforts of your home. It’s also very cost effective. You don’t have to physically check a restaurant to decide if it’s a nice place to dine. You can now check the restaurant, its menu, location, food prices and even reviews from previous customers through the internet.

Truly, life has been convenient and economical for us with the aid of internet and establishments that capitalize on this great tool.

 

WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE CONNECTED?

People of the 21st century are the most techie and most connected people. Being connected is a necessity especially to first world countries like the US and Britain.

Forty-nine percent of the world’s population are internet users (that’s 3,731,973,423!), with half of them coming from Asia (1.87 billion people or 35% more than the population of China). Eighty-eight percent of Americans are internet users while 77.4% of Europeans are connected online .

In the 2015 Nielsen Global Digital Landscape Report, it found that globally, the Philippines ranks highest for browsing the internet while watching video programming (76%), followed by Thailand and Vietnam (70%). Likewise, Filipinos are the most likely to engage others via social media while watching video programming (70%), followed by the Thais (68%)  .

The Nielsen report also highlights the growing affinity among Southeast Asian consumers for anywhere, anytime connectivity and keeping up to date with the latest news. Once again, the Philippines ranked highest globally in terms of the extent to which they enjoy the freedom of constant connectivity (94%) and Indonesians ranked second highest globally at 89% .

It’s no surprise that 81% of shoppers research online before buying, according to retailingtoday.
Sixty percent of consumers start their research on a search engine before heading to a specific website and 61% of shoppers read product reviews before making a purchase .

On average, consumers visit at least 3 online stores before making their purchases .

In my previous job, which involved a lot of travelling, I always research online to check hotels, restaurants and transport services. Being away for at least 12 days every month, businesses with websites are really a life-saver as I can make reservations on the go. It makes my business trips easier and more comfortable.

 

A SURPRISING SURVEY

With more and more people getting connected as a way of life, surely businesses, great and small, would be taking advantage of this trend.

It’s hard to imagine the world without the internet. We are very dependent on it and pretty much everything we do is internet based.

Surprisingly, this is not the case for 46% of US small businesses, according to Clutch, a business-to-business research firm. The firm conducted the survey in 2016 that involved more than 350 small businesses – the majority of which have less than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue .

What’s even more surprising, the survey found out, are the reasons why these small businesses don’t have a website. Here are the four main reasons why these small businesses don’t have a website:

  1. A website is not relevant to their business or industry
  2. The cost of a website
  3. Lack of technical know-how and the need for upkeep
  4. The use of social media as an online presence instead of a website

Globally, small businesses are even less connected. According to a 2015 Redshift Research survey, commissioned by GoDaddy, 60% of the 4,009 small businesses surveyed don’t have websites. Of those, about 12% have Facebook pages .

The percentages were roughly the same for the US and the aggregate of businesses surveyed globally, in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Interestingly, this is not the case in European businesses. Seventy-seven percent of EU businesses have a website according to the 2016 European Union survey on “ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises” .

 

MISSING OUT

These small businesses that don’t have a website or are not fully engaged online are at a competitive disadvantage.

Without a Web presence, they are missing out. They fail to recognize that they have a high potential for online success but they need to develop and sustain a strong Web presence.

“It’s still surprising that so many businesses don’t have a website. This ignores the fact that most Americans are on the web, looking them up. Studies have shown that over 70-80% of people will research a company on the web before making a purchase decision, usually by visiting its website. Even having a one-page website can establish credibility. It shows that the business is actually real and has taken the time to put out a presentation.”
– Rehan Fernando, CEO at EIGHT25MEDIA

 

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

Clutch found out the reasons why US small businesses don’t have websites and experts were quick to drop their two cents worth.

 

1.)  A website is not relevant to their business or industry

“A website would never not be relevant to a business. Every company within a  specific industry would benefit from having their presence known online. If you are selling something, why not reach consumers the fastest way possible in order to increase your sales immediately?”
– James Trumbly, Founder and Managing Partner at HMG Creative

 

“No matter what type of business you run, if you have customers, it’s necessary to have some sort of information online, at least a page describing who you are and offering contact information. It’s essential to have this information indexed and shown to those looking for you, otherwise you’re relying on third parties… Even if you only have a few clients a year, or think that people won’t search for your type of services, there will be someone looking for you, and you should try and make their process easier.”
– Max Elman, Founder of Razorfrog Web Design

It’s clear that having a website is relevant to all types of businesses in every industry.

 

2.) The cost of a website

“Every company needs a website on some level. How much they need to spend on it and how big it needs to be depends on the industry. For example, the restaurant industry is an area where owners don’t need to spend a lot of money on web design, and where solutions like WIX or Squarespace could be used. Again, I don’t think there is an industry where a website isn’t needed. Every business should have one.”
– Rehan Fernando, CEO at Eight25Media

A small business should view having a website as an investment. A website can have an incredible return of investment (ROI) in the long term.

Many user-friendly, free and open-source content-management systems are available to assist with Web design, so it’s possible to build a basic small business website without a professional Web designer .

At entry level, the cost of having a website is extremely low.

Small businesses should adapt to the social changes if they want to remain afloat.

The Redshift Research survey found that 83% of small businesses with websites said that their online platforms gave them a competitive advantage over businesses without websites .

But 23% are not mobile friendly and another 9 percent have unknown mobile capabilities.  To really take advantage of the benefits of having a website, it is best to conduct regular improvements of their sites, especially in areas of search engine optimization, social engagement, design and content.

Making a business website mobile friendly can give the business a huge boost and exposure since
the affinity to be connect anytime, anywhere is high. A mobile friendly website is not only useful for capturing new customers and keeping the old ones, but it is also necessary to establish credibility, visibility and meeting clients needs.

Make the customer’s experience when exploring the business website pleasant and satisfying.

 

IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WEBSITE FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Having a website is important for small businesses if they want to get new customers or to simply keep existing ones.

The internet is an essential component of communication across the globe between marketers, advertisers and customers. Websites have become the customer’s first port of call for seeking information and eventually purchasing goods or services, whether online or offline.

Having an online platform is essential to one’s business because of the following reasons:

1.) FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT

We live in a world where people Google everything, whether it’s a hotel, restaurant, summer destination or some item people like to buy. People visit online reviews and check Facebook. And because of this, it’s important to consider making a first impression that really counts and it starts with the business website.

Beginning with your website, consumers are passing judgement and making decisions about whether or not they will even visit your store, restaurant or office. They’re likely to dismiss you entirely, as well, should they believe your website doesn’t reflect the kind of experience your business – or a business like yours – should offer .

Having a website gives the impression of being professional. It also helps establish credibility in the eyes of the customers.

“By building a website you are giving your business the opportunity to tell consumers why they should trust you and the testimonials and facts to back up those opportunities. Believe it or not, most people will search the internet for a product or service before the purchase to check the credibility first. When you provide good service or product, positive word-of-mouth about your business is likely to spread. Which in turn, delivers more repeat and new business.
People tend to trust a business after they have done business with it. Using your website, you can continuously serve consumers online and increase your credibility as a business owner.”

 

2.) VISIBILITY

Having a strong web presence can provide opportunities for customers to identify who you are and it will help them decide whether they want to spend the money with you.

Increasing visibility is one major factor why having a website is important.  This is one way to market your business or brand online. It’s simply telling the world that your business exists and you are open for business.

Remember that a website is more environmentally friendly when it comes to advertising and marketing. And there are lots of ways to advertise your products or services through the internet.

 

3.) ACCESSIBILITY

A website is online and accessible 24/7/365. Your website provides your customers and potential customers the support or information they need about your products or services in their most convenient time.

“Your website will act as an invaluable and always-available resource for information which would otherwise only be accessible during your company’s business hours.”

Your accessibility can also provide customer satisfaction because you make it easy for your customers to purchase from you.

Another part of your accessibility is making your website mobile-friendly.

“Mobile usage is on the rise more than ever. If a site isn’t optimized, people will go elsewhere. This is especially true for restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or any kind of consumer business where hours of operation and contact information are important. This is true even for businesses where someone would just look for a phone number or the proper contact person. If the site takes a long time to load, it will hugely impact a business.”
– Max Elman, Razorfrog Web Design

 

4.) INCREASED SALES

Being visible worldwide means you are likely to gain more customers. You can sell products at any time. Since potential customers are not restricted to business hours, they can go online and purchase products whenever they want, thus providing a boost in sales.

Upgrading your business website and fine-tuning it can be a leverage into acquiring new customers, gathering leads, downloads and the potential to increase revenue by 300% (depending, of course, on industry, location and variety of factors).

An article part of SWOT Team, a series on Mashable.com that features insights from leaders in marketing, brand-building and public relations offered 5 tweaks to your business website that could increase sales up to 300% .

  • Add video content
  • Go global and multicultural
  • Prevent downtime
  • Use responsive design
  • Post customer reviews

For further details, you can check their website at mashable.com.

 

5.) DATA CENTER

Your website can also act as a data centre for your employees, customers and prospects. You can actually track everything that is happening on it. You can even look for information that will tell you how many people visited your site, or how many people messaged or emailed you. You can access the progress of your website and view all its pages. You can even make an update anytime, making it much less expensive than printed material.

Having a website is like having an online brochure or catalogue. It is easier and quicker to update information about your product and services on your website than in print material. This is also the most effective way of informing your customers about new products or services, upcoming events and promotions.

 

Establishing a web presence by having a website is a strong tool to achieve growth and success in one’s business.  There are many practical reasons and benefits of having a website.

A website is not only useful for capturing new customers, it is also necessary for credibility, visibility and meeting current clients needs.