I’ll Huff, and I’ll Puff: Do Brick and Mortar Businesses Need a Website?

Everyone knows the story of the three little pigs. And the big bad wolf. The pig with the brick and mortar won out. Unfortunately, since James Orchard Halliwell published the old nursery rhyme in Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales (1849), brick and mortar no longer make for the safe, solid business environment it once was. At least, not all of it. So the question we often here is, “do brick and mortar businesses need a website?”  Read on and you decide.

 

E-commerce is set to grow to more than $4tn by 2020, which will be more than 14 percent of all retail spending.  That’s a hell of a lot of wonga. If you reimagined eCommerce growth rates as a country in itself, the growth rates (which hit levels of 20 per cent) are staggering and make modern China look like, well, old China.

 

do-brick-and-mortar-businesses-need-a-website?Astonishingly, many businesses still do not have a website or even feel the itch to create one. Their owners (let’s say they are a local bakery) may feel that as a local business to which people saunter in the morning and pick up the odd baguette, they don’t really need a website. After all, all their custom comes from footfall.

 

But websites are about presence, they’re about access to information, they’re about mapping…

 

Location, location, location

Mapping? Uh-huh. As location services on your phone buddy up with ever more sophisticated local search results on Google, a website designed to work equally well on a laptop, tablet, and smartphone can be a boon even if you’re a very local, very specialized company. Particularly the latter. Someone walking down the street in Montpelier in the English city of Bristol, who wants an overnight dough roll stuffed with Parma ham from nearby Licata’s Sicilian deli, would definitely be overjoyed to find Herbert’s bakery pop up on their phone located as being within a couple of streets. And if the bread is as awesome as it’s always been, they might link to it on their Facebook account. And there begins the e-word of mouth process, which I wrote about here.

 

Herbert’s have never felt the need for a website before; their bread is way up there with the best in the city and they’ve thousands of adoring customers. Now, however, they’re getting online: they’ve registered a domain name and they’re building a site. Let’s wonder “why do brick and mortar businesses need a website?”

 

Custom Brick and Mortar Stores

The internet is a long-tail kinda zone. Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired, wrote a piece way back in 2004 about how the internet is great for small and specialized businesses (selling remote control units for self-assembly drones, to take one example). That’s because avoiding the overhead of brick and mortar businesses, and the increasing efficiency of postal services and logistics companies, allow site owners to sell goods they would not otherwise be able to sell. I mean, how many UAV remote control units are you going to offload if your shop is in Big Coppitt Key, FL, and customers have to drive all the way down from Miami Beach to get there because you’re not online yet?

 

Being able to order specialist stuff on the internet has launched God knows how many businesses, and saved many more.  Not to mention, it’s allowed current brick and mortar stores to expand their addressable market BIG TIME!

 

Full-spectrum operations

If you have a store or a business, but no website, I bet you have a niggling feeling that you’re not all there yet. You’d be right. If you’ve got a business and are turning away work and don’t feel the need to drop some C-notes on paying a Webmaster or designer, then hey, you’re not doing America right. Isn’t the idea to get as massive as possible and maybe one day become a world leader in whatever it is you do?

Pest control, pool cleaning, gemstone valuation, Hopi ear candles, or any other product or service people need? Having a website opens up new vistas of potential marketing and new groupings of potential customers. If done well, it can get you a high ranking in Google searches, generate online sales and customers, and expand the world’s awareness of your business.

Recent research from Google found 79% of consumers say they use a smartphone to help with shopping even at a brick and mortar store. And even after seeing a TV commercial, 83% said they still do online research about the products they’ve seen. Let’s face it, these days one of the biggest challenges in forging a successful business is simply letting people know you exist. And for that, the internet is pretty much unbeatable.

 

Information highway

Sure, you can advertise on local radio, but people can’t copy your details from the radio with the click of a button and paste it into Google Maps. In any case, 44 per cent of listeners to local radio do so online these days. Yet with 47 percent of Americans reached by social media in 2015, a number that is always growing, any business without some strategy for leveraging the internet has to ask itself if it’s maxing out its potential or merely coasting.  So, do you yet have your answer to the question, “do brick and mortar businesses need a website?”  I hope you’re starting to see that, more today than ever before, an online presence is almost a necessity if you wish to continue growing your brick and mortar business!

 

I’m going to deal with what kind of website might suit you or your business in another post, so bookmark this site and watch the blog feed.  In the meantime, enter your email address and first name here so you never miss an article.  We’ll let you know everytime we post something new.

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