It’s a no-brainer that the Internet can help you increase your sales and profitability, which in turn can increase the value of your business. According to Forrester Research, e-commerce sales hit more than $75 billion last year.
You should also know that of the more than 300 million people worldwide online today, more than 85 million are in the United States. There are more than 1 billion Web pages in existence. These facts mean you could tap into an amazing opportunity.
Following are some ways the Internet can help you increase your business’ potential:
A web site can be a very effective means of reaching new and existing customers and expanding your geographic presence. Breaking down geographic barriers is a good thing for any business owner.
A web site provides company exposure that customers can access at any time. Hence, a professional web site is an important first step in tapping the power of the Web. You may wish to hire a consultant to help you with the marketing of your web site. Simple tactics such as utilizing search engine optimization tools — making sure your web site appears toward the top of a list when someone conducts a search — can significantly increase the hit rate on your site. Many larger firms initially gauge the credibility of smaller firms as a business partner by the professionalism of the smaller firm’s web site. Additionally, a web site offers the ability to capture the information of existing and potential customers, which bolsters the efforts of your sales team.
Increase Customer Retention
The Internet provides small businesses with another outlet for customer contact and support. Some businesses give customers access to the status of a job via the Internet. This type of partnership approach with customers builds brand trust and loyalty. Email allows for an expeditious exchange of files or specs, and communication such as job updates, new product additions and other news can be inexpensively distributed to your clients through e-mail campaigns containing links to your site.
The Internet also allows you to increase productivity and streamline automation in your business. Consider the ease of being able to order equipment replacement parts online. Larger U.S. manufacturing companies with international organizations now use the Internet to track their supply chain, work flow and available capacity at overseas plants. In some cases, crowded U.S. manufacturers can e-mail the exact job specifications to another plant across the world to keep a job on schedule. In addition, basic site features, such as the capability to accept online orders, can increase sales by allowing for order acceptance at any hour — in a more convenient form than a facsimile. Lastly, a web site can reduce expenses associated with the production of brochures and other collateral materials.
Overall, a web site is essentially another form of advertising for your business, and should be utilized in conjunction with traditional methods to maximize its presence and profitability.
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