The internet is incredible. Some will say it was the best invention of the 20th century due to how it altered the course of humanity. It has allowed people to connect with friends, start relationships, earn careers, play video games, be instantly connected to the news, and everything else in between.
It is so prevalent that virtually everyone is plugged into the online world in some way. Yet those traditional brick-and-mortar stores, bless them, have not always been the most willing to utilize online technology.
They can be a little stuck in their ways and feel intimidated about the prospect of using the internet for their business.
Plus, with the growth of online shopping cutting into their market share, they might have an underlying distaste for anything internet-related.
This is sad news because the internet shouldn’t be viewed in a negative light. In fact, there are various ways a brick-and-mortar store can harness this technology to massively improve their business. Here’s how:
In this day and age, the average person will turn to the internet to find out information about local businesses. Say someone is searching for a plumber to fix an urgent issue. They will go on Google, type something like ‘Plumbers near me’, and receive a list of relevant companies.
The companies that show up, however, are those that have put in the work to build their online presence. Even if you have been in the business for over 30 years and have a stellar reputation in the community, a rival with only a fraction of that experience can show up first in search results if they’ve been savvy with building their online visibility.
With this in mind, getting your business out there on the internet can go a long way to acquiring new customers.
There are also various ways in which you can go about crafting an online presence. A website is a strong starting point.
This doesn’t have to be anything too overly complicated – a few pages that detail your business history, key details like address and opening times, services you offer, etc., will often do the job.
Social media is also a must. Whether you decide to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or a combination of all popular social media solutions, these are a fantastic way to stay in touch with customers and keep them updated with the latest on your business.
Another element to not forget is a Google My Business account. With a GMB profile, you can provide vital business details and updates, respond to reviews, and, most importantly, improve your chances of showing up in Google search results.
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Have sales been slowing down for your brick-and-mortar business? One way to remedy – and even improve – this situation is to sell your products online. Admittedly, this generally isn’t an option for service-based companies, but everyone else can utilize the internet to boost their sales figures.
Your website can be a platform to sell products directly to customers. Alternatively, you can use popular marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy to list your items for sale. Even though they will typically take a cut of the profits, the instant visibility gained can be invaluable.
Plus, you can always charge a little extra for your products online – especially if they are unique, handcrafted items that cannot be found elsewhere.
Reduce shipping costs
The internet is also a great tool for reducing your expenses. This is best evidenced by shipping. Say your business sells bulky items like furniture.
Delivering couches and beds to customers can be an expensive endeavor if the task is being outsourced. Yet if you use an online shipping platform, it’s possible to save up to 75% off on the regular cost of getting products to customers.
When you factor in that shipping can often be the biggest expense that cuts into profit margins or increases the bill for customers, this type of significant saving can make a massive difference.
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Boost your customer service
Whether a business operates exclusively online or as a physical store, they have a common theme: customer service is an integral component of their operation. A strong commitment to pleasing customers is essential for repeat business – a key component for any business to succeed.
The internet is a great way to boost your customer service efforts. Communication is made effortless.
You don’t always have to be at the end of the phone, ready to answer customer inquiries. With tools like email and social media, you can reply to customers within a matter of minutes.
Another advantage is that, rather than only operating during your open hours, you can effectively stay available 24/7.
Automated email responses and live chatbots can be incorporated into your strategy, giving customers a response no matter what time they get in touch.