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Market Your Storefront with a Website

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Business and Finance
Many people think that the Internet offers a tremendous marketplace, while others will question the extra effort and money to purchase and design a website. Some of the money-making values of having a website are summarized in the following paragraphs for your consideration.

1. If you have a local group of customers and want to expand to the neighboring areas, states or even, countries, without spending massive amounts of costly advertising money or even leasing more company space, then the Internet can work very well for you. Niche markets (small groups of customers scattered about that are interested in a very specific item or service) also work very well on the Internet.

2. As a business owner, you need to provide a map and directions to your store for your customers and enable them to look up specials, discounts, limited merchandise, or varieties and prices of each item you market. For instance, let's say you sell cheesecakes and you would like to spend less time on the phone explaining the different varieties, how many people the different varieties will serve, prices, and availability. Here's how this could work online for you. You would provide a secure, encrypted order form thereby collecting the person's credit information as well as their address, phone, and email information. They would list their preferences as to varieties and sizes of cheesecakes. This form would be sent directly to your email or to your fax so that you would have the items ready for the customer to pick up that day or the day they designate. You would have the cheesecakes shipped for those that cannot make it to your store. When a customer returns to order another product from your website, they would not have to fill out most of the form as it would already be in your database.

3. You build their confidence when you show customers that you have their best interest and shopping convenience in mind when you open a website and properly maintain that website with new and updated information. Customers will appreciate being able to read about the owners, the store's policies, the service after the sale, and any other items you think would develop a rapport to allow them to do more business with you. Having a website allows your company to develop its style and branding and develops a sense of security for the customers in doing business with your firm.

4. A small operation can look just as important as a large corporation. A website builds confidence and value into your products and services and allows you to receive orders you may have missed without being on the Internet.

5. If you do advertising on the radio or TV, newspapers or direct mail, having a website gives the customer a place to review what you tell them in the ads in much more detail. Every ad should reference your website so customers can view the details at a time and place that is convenient 24 hours a day seven days a week. You can quickly change and update information on a website without the expense of printed materials.

6. You can do any promotion online that you can do offline and much cheaper. Coupons, money-off sales, discounts, employee recognition, limited merchandise you want to move, all these can be marketed on your website. Keeping the website up-to-date can be provided by your webmaster at a very nominal fee.

I hope that you can see from some of the above points that having your own website is necessary in today's marketplace for any small or medium-sized business as well as any at-home business. Customers are out there looking for you and you need to take advantage of where they are looking and, right now, that is the INTERNET! Since your competitors have a website, they are perceived as being more up-to-date. The ease, convenience, special online savings, information about your company's mission, your services, your ability to communicate with customers are all important reasons for having a dynamic online website. Online marketing will only continue to grow...WILL YOUR CUSTOMERS FIND YOU ONLINE?