There’s been a rather large contraction of the retail sector around the country, in fact, around the world. At the same time, there has been a huge explosion in online buying by consumers. Many offline businesses blame their demise on this increase in online buying, however, those same businesses have not created any online presence themselves. They have effectively ceded any online sales to those businesses who have had the foresight to create an online presence. In simple terms, you cannot blame the online world for taking away your business if you not also online competing with them.
Book shops are a great example. Book sales have been contracting for decades, yet the online sales of books have steadily grown. They estimate that online book sales are around 10% with digital sales approaching 1%. While bookshops seem to closing down around us, those that are surviving are those that have an online presence. More interesting is the fact that their ‘local’ sphere of influence has grown. Rather than being a local bookshop in town, they are now a local bookshop in their state, or at least for their town and the surrounding areas. Consumers can jump online, find the books they are interested in, then have them put aside ready to picked up the next time they are in town. Better yet of course are those bookshops that have a checkout process and who are prepared to mail off those purchases.
You can’t compete with the online world if you’re not online as well. The unfortunate part of this problem is money. Many business owners have a misconception about the cost of setting up an online presence. It doesn’t cost tens of thousands, you can set up a reasonable online presence for around a thousand dollars. That’s a domain name, hosting, a decent web site and blog thrown in. Spend some time promoting your website both offline and through the online social media channels, and you’ll be surprised at the response. Spend a little more to have a web site with a catalog, checkout and payment processor and you’re suddenly an online trader.
Yes, online sales are growing, and yes, in some areas, bricks and mortar businesses are suffering. Rather than throwing in the towel, you should be researching whether or not an online presence can help to make you more competitive, or at least give you an opportunity to compete effectively in your niche. It can be done, and it could help to save your business, it’s certainly better than just giving up. If you’re unsure about how to set up an online presence, talk to those who do it everyday. A small business Internet adviser costs a lot less than you imagine and if it saves your business, could be the best investment you ever make.