If a product you sell can be mailed to a customer in the next town, there's absolutely no reason you can't mail it to a customer on the other side of the world too! World-wide there are literally billions of potential new customers for your products.
But, for shoppers all over the world to see your products you need a website.
What's more, the ability to sell world-wide isn't the only benefit to having a website for your business.
Here's 12 reasons why your business should have one:
1. It's An Excellent Medium To Advertise Your Business
Your business website can be a 'shop window' - especially useful if you don't actually have one. It can be a brochure showing photographs of the products you sell, or just explain the services you provide.
Existing customers might even see products and services they didn't know you provided - or knew they needed.
With prominent display on your website of your telephone number, address, business hours, potential customers can browse your products, call or visit you knowing when you will be open. You can also provide them with a map of how to get to you and a satellite view so customers don't get lost on the way.
And don't forget, there's a big wide world out there. At the moment, you might be advertising and selling to people in your local area. But if your products can be shipped, you can start selling to the rest of the country... or even the rest of the world!
According to 'Internet World Stats' figures, in the regions with the three highest percentages of internet users per head of population, (Europe, North America and Australasia - the three regions you are most likely to find interested customers), the average is approximately 70%.
What that means to you in plain English is that there are roughly a billion new potential customers out there for you to sell your products to!
And those figures don't even include Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Their internet user percentages are lower per head of population, but some - like Asia - with higher populations result in much higher actual numbers of internet users. If added to the 'top 3' total it would be over two billion potential customers for you!
2. You Get Unlimited 'Proper' Email Addresses
It's only a personal opinion I know, but if I'm following a company van in my car and see that the email contact address is a Hotmail, Yahoo or GMail account, I can't take that business seriously. After all, what proper business uses a free email account?
When you have your own website, part of the process is getting your own domain - like 'yourbusinessname' which can be a.com,.net or.info - or one of the many others available.
Along with the web-hosting, you also get an email server with unlimited email addresses using the domain name that you chose. So, if the domain name you got was gardenfurniture.com then you could have sales@, enquiries@, info@ and any others you may need - all free of charge.
You and all the staff who work for you could also have their own email addresses too if you like. What's more, when a new member of staff joins your company, adding another email address for them for them is a breeze... and still costs you nothing.
3. You Can Make Huge Savings On Your Printing Costs!
If you have flyers, brochures or leaflets printed, you know how expensive it can be.
But what happens if an item in a brochure is unexpectedly discontinued and has to be replaced just a couple of weeks after your brochure comes out? How about another item becoming available after the brochure has been printed? Or products changing price? A costly re-print is obviously out of the question.
If you have a website, in your brochure you can just add a simple line which says "to check product availability, the latest prices and our special offers, please check out our website at...".
If your website is on all your printed material, running special promotions for a limited period like a week or even a day becomes possible. Before, having leaflets printed would have been prohibitively expensive - especially when they are only of use for such a short period.
So, on your website you can now have that special Christmas promotion during December without the burden of additional printing costs. The same goes for weekly special offers:
"Special Offer - For One Week Only: 14" Garden Gnomes - Buy One Get One Free! Monday 4th Of July Until Saturday 9th Of July".
And there's no waste - unlike when leaflets are left over and can't be used again because they have dates on them. (You can't even save them until next year and re-use them as the 4th of July won't be on a Monday)...
No-one is suggesting that having a website will completely remove the need for a business to have things printed - it just gives you the ability to do things that you currently can't do because the extra printing costs would simply make it unprofitable.
4. Your Website Content Is Easy To Change And Update
As you have full editorial control of your website, it says what you want it to. You can change item descriptions, prices, dates and photographs if you want, quickly and easily.
You can add and remove articles whenever you like to keep it fresh and up to date so visitor will return.
5. All Your Business Information Online Saves You Time
How long does it take you to answer when someone asks you what your business does? Do you sometimes accidentally forget to mention something?
With a website, you can give a shorter, more general answer and add, "all the details are on our website if you'd like to take a look", while handing over your business card...
6. 'Contact Us' Forms Mean You'll Never Miss A Potential Lead
We all have to sleep. Sometimes we are ill an other times we are on holiday. We miss calls when we are in the shower or down at the gym. The point is, we can't all be available 24/7.
If one evening a potential customer only has your phone number to get hold of you and you miss their call, there's no guarantee they will call back and you could have just missed out on a big order.
With a website, you can have an Enquiry or Booking form, or just a simple Contact Us form so having looked at your products and/or services they can contact you immediately while it's fresh in their mind. You receive the enquiry and can deal with it the moment you get back in your office.
If they are elsewhere in the world, you may be asleep when they want to know if you can supply your garden gnomes with purple jackets and whether or not you can ship 36 of them to where they live. If their only option of contacting you is by phone and you aren't available at the time they are interested, they will simply look somewhere else.
With a website showing your products and prices and a way to contact you on your website, your business is effectively open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and anyone, anywhere in the world is a potential customer.
7. Links To Other Websites Can Generate Extra Business For You
With your own website, forging links with other businesses and service providers in your area who also have websites can increase your sales.
You put a small ad on your business website which links to another one and they do the same for you. If the two businesses are mutually beneficial to each other in some way, your visitors will be interested in their website and vice-versa.
For example, if your company sells curtains, you could contact a company who installs windows and ask them if they will put a link on their web page to yours if you put one on yours to theirs.
When one of their customers has new windows fitted they often need new curtains and the link on their website will send them to take a look at your curtains website. The other company will also benefit from additional visitors sent from your website who otherwise may never have known it existed.
And it doesn't have to be links to websites just in your immediate vicinity. Remember your website will be seen all over the country you live in - as well as the rest of the world - and most businesses with websites are only too happy to ship their products anywhere.
8. Up To Date Price Lists Can Be Available 24/7
The price you pay for the materials you use to make your products, (or sell on) goes up and down all the time.
If you make Garden Gnomes and the price of paint or plaster of paris goes up 20%, there's a good chance that you will be forced to absorb the increase rather than reprint all your brochures and price lists - or upset customers by telling them the price in the brochure has gone up.
With a website, prices can be adjusted by you instantly as often as you like. All it costs is a little of your time... but no money, which is nice to know!
If your business has just started up and you are working on a budget, then a website brochure is the ideal low-cost option for you. You can start small with just a handful of products and add more over time.
The cost of a website is only a fraction of how much a printed brochure would be and having your products on it means it will always be up to date price-wise.
9. A Professional Looking Website Can Improve Your Image
It's often all about trust.
Go into a big store in any town or city and you'll see that a designer has created an image. Mood lighting, expensive decor and the classy background music portrays a feeling of opulence which gives shoppers the impression that the company is prosperous and can be trusted to buy from. this is based on what they see.
But, it's possible that the store is struggling, might be on the verge of bankruptcy and warranties for what they buy today will be useless in a few weeks. It's a risk we all take.
It's also possible that what you sell is of better quality and cheaper than that store. More to the point, you simply can't afford a classy shop in a prime location in town.
But, if you have a professional looking website which looks as good as than theirs does, internet shoppers in other parts of the world won't know that you don't have a big fancy store and could just as easily buy from you as from them.
The bottom line for customers is they want quality products at a good price, so as long as you give them a good deal they won't be bothered that you don't actually have a shop they can walk around.
If your website doesn't mislead visitors, the products you ship out are actually the same as those shown in your brochure and you ship out on time, most of your customers will actually return and order more.
10. You can Blog About The Products You Sell
'Blogging' is a buzzword on the internet at the moment - everyone is doing it.
It's not difficult either - it's essentially just writing and publishing an article on a web page. The main difference is that after reading your comments, readers can post comments and ask you questions about what you have said.
It's usefulness to you is that you could blog about one of your products in detail each week. As a blog can be as long as you want it to be, you can go into a lot more detail than the space in any brochure would allow.
You could even turn it into an 'Item Of The Week' blog and write about products which you haven't been able to sell - maybe even offering them at a discounted price just for that week. You know shoppers can't resist a bargain!
11. Everyone Else Has Got One... (Well Nearly Everyone)!
OK, it's not as serious a reason as the rest I grant you, but it is true. Also, some people out there do see having a website as a sort of 'stamp of approval' for a business. Plus, buying online is a rapidly growing market.
According to a survey by Nielsen Online, 85% of the world's population with internet access now shop on line. Two years ago it was 10%. Of those numbers, 41% were buying books - not good if you have a bookshop with no website - and 36% clothing. The other two main online purchases were understandably for airline tickets and of course music.
What might surprise you is that country by country, percentage-wise, the biggest online shoppers were South Koreans, the British, Germans and the Japanese.
Remember, the internet has no borders. If you have something an internet shopper wants and you can get it to them at the right price, they will buy it. They don't really care where you are...
12. It's Now A Lot Cheaper Than You Might Think
Paying for a professionally designed website used to cost an arm and a leg. You can still find companies out there that still charge huge amounts to big businesses who can afford it and don't mind paying, but these days the man in the street or small business owner simply can't afford to pay those high prices.
Luckily lots of small website companies are starting up and lots of competition means they have to compete for business. As such, there are good web design teams out there offering professional looking CMS websites at realistic prices.
A complete new website package including a new domain, the design of a dynamic website, a year of web-hosting and unlimited email accounts which used to cost over a thousand euros/dollars/pounds a few years ago can currently be had for as little as 150-250 ($218-363 or £135-226) depending on the size and complexity of the website required.
At the end of the first year, renewing the domain and web-hosting can be as little as 60 ($87 or £54).
So, with prices currently so low and all the benefits to take advantage of, you'd be daft not to enter the digital world and get your business noticed with a web presence!
Barrie J Capel is a computer engineer with over 30 years experience in hardware, software development and IT Training for local government in the UK. He now lives in Tenerife, Spain and is the owner of Tenerife-based IT specialists Computech Tenerife and newly formed sub-division Computech Tenerife Web Designs.
Since he is no longer involved in active IT training, he has put his many years of experience to use developing a number of 'how to' guides which he gives away totally free of charge on the Computech Tenerife website: