When we begin planning out a digital strategy with a client, we start the process by reviewing and taking inventory of their current website. When we do this, one of the first things the client often says to us is (with a look of shame) “don’t look at that site; it’s so outdated. We know we need to change it!” Of the close to one billion websites on the internet today, businesses are in a perpetual state of catch-up with their online presence, often unsatisfied with how their website presents their business, products or services. The good news: It’s actually much easier and much less expensive than you might think to upgrade your online presence and keep it stocked with fresh content, images and updates that keep visitors coming back for more.
Have a store front with walk in traffic for customers to purchase your goods and services? Those products should be available online, too. Software like Shopify can offer a turn-key platform that makes your products available online on a regional, national or global level. For as little as $19/month you can have an operational ecommerce site up and running showcasing any type of product or service: jewelry, art, printer cartridges, food products, you name it, it can be loaded and sold online with Shopify in any currency you wish.
To be fair - that is only part of the cost. You still need to populate your website with product descriptions, images, and your traditional company information and you should budget between $3,000 and $5,000 for this phase of your website development. You should also budget for some ongoing marketing activity, around $10,000 per year, in order to drive visitors to your website through promotional email campaigns, search engine marketing and social media promotion such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more, depending on your products and customers’ buying habits.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock for you to go digital has been your own inertia. Most people severely overestimate the time and expense of the initial phase of digitizing their business. The expectations for a return on that investment are often unrealistic - if you’ve seen the godaddy.com commercials, you are led to believe the world will rush through your site, once you have one. That will not happen. Your expectations should be for a gradual increase in revenue over 12 to 24 months. Not including your own time, you may be looking at a minimum of $25,000 invested over a two year period.
Faced with a longer return period, many business owners will instead stick to the traditional business model and whilst you delay, the world changes. Worldwide consumer ecommerce sales will increase by 20.1% in 2014 to reach $1.5 trillion. That’s trillion with a “T” (Source: emarketer.com). There is no industry shielded from this growth. As consumers, we expect that we can get anything online. Even if your product is a service like a yoga studio, a catering business or personal training gym, consumers expect to purchase your services, view schedules and book appointments online. Your business being “local” is not an excuse to have a lackluster online presence. The current push for digitizing business is for smaller businesses to jump online. Google and Facebook have recognized this and made changes to allow small operators to compete with the Amazons of the world.
Don’t get stuck in your “digital inertia.” As we say at Tangent, the journey of 1000 miles starts with one step. Give us a call, and get some free consultation. We can give you a quick “digital business audit and steps for a business plan” that will help you get your business online.