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Mar 2, 2016

Why Your Business Needs to Be Online

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Why Your Business Needs to Be Online

According to a Clutch survey, 26 percent of small businesses don't have a website, 9 percent say they have plans to build a website in the near future, and 10 percent say they're unlikely to go online anytime soon. This means that more than one in four businesses are losing online customers to their competitors, as well as losing brick and mortar business generated online.

If you're one of the companies that still hasn't gone online, here are some reasons your business needs to make that move sooner than later.

Customers are Shopping Online

The percentage of your customers who shop online is huge, and it's getting bigger. Last holiday shopping season, for example, Americans spent 14 percent more online than the year before, and more Americans shopped online than in brick-and-mortar stores. Online shoppers are buying items once reserved for brick-and-mortar retailers.

For instance, over one-quarter of consumers in the world now buy their groceries online for home delivery, and more than half say they are willing to purchase groceries online in the future, a Nielsen survey shows. Two-thirds of Americans shop online at least once a month, and one-third shop online every week, according to Mintel's Online Shopping US 2015 Report. If your store isn't online, you're losing these customers, and they're going to your competition instead.

Online Inventory Management Saves Storage & Shipping Costs

Using online inventory software can give your business a huge strategic advantage by letting you handle stock more efficiently while saving storage and shipping costs.

To illustrate the power of online inventory management, Amazon has now surpassed the market value of Walmart, itself an inventory efficiency innovator, and is on track to surpass Macy's as America's largest apparel retailer by 2017.

Inventory software provider Fishbowl says online inventory management represents several advantages for brick-and-mortar businesses, including the ability to speed up inventory processing by feeding bar code scans directly into the computer, the ability to automatically update inventory-related accounting records instead of entering them manually, and reduced costs due to less time wasted and fewer data entry mistakes.

Online inventory can also cut down time and costs associated with restocking and shipping merchandise. For instance, tire seller TireBuyer lets customers shop their selection from more than three million tires online and then gives buyers the option of having tires shipped to a local installer or to their home, avoiding the need to constantly restock local warehouses in order to keep up with sales.

Offering Online Solutions Improves Your Customer Service

Ninety-one percent of customers will use an online knowledge base to solve customer service issues if one is available, according to a survey by customer experience software provider Amdocs. When customers do have to contact customer service, they often prefer online communication tools over the phone.

For instance, 16 percent of dental customers aged 35 to 54 prefer to schedule appointments via the Internet or a text message rather than over the phone, a Software Advice survey showed. Offering online customer service options can improve your customer satisfaction while saving your staff time spent answering customer inquiries.

Selling Online Multiplies Your Revenue

Selling online multiplies the number of customers you can reach as well as the amount your customers spend per order. Online shoppers spend more, with 48 percent of Mintel's survey respondents saying they often purchase extra items in order to take advantage of free shipping.

Online sales tools such as social media and email marketing also make it easier for you to cultivate repeat business, therefore multiplying your sales. Repeat customers spend 67 percent more per purchase than first-time buyers, according to Bain & Company research.

If you're not using online tools to cultivate repeat business, you're leaving money on the table.

Top image via: shutterstock

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