For small business owners with limited time and resources, a website can sometimes feel like an afterthought or a necessary nuisance. And yet, for many people, their first impression of you and your business will be what they see online. Before they set foot in your store or reach out to you, potential customers are looking at your presence online and deciding if you are what they are looking for. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it a great one!
When looking at your website, a few important questions to ask yourself are:
Does your website clearly communicate who you are and what you have to offer?
Does your website have a cohesive and branded layout that showcases the quality of your products and services?
Is there an obvious navigation menu that is easy to browse and works on both desktop and mobile?
Is pertinent information, like your location and hours, easy to find?
As a business, are you making it easy for people to shop with you?
The necessity of a strong website and online presence has become even more important in the past year. With ongoing shifts in health measures and people's comfort, more than ever customers are taking the time to research businesses before visiting, and looking for efficient home shopping options.
Here are a few things you can do online to make it even easier for customers to support you:⠀
1) Keep your information up-to-date With ongoing gathering restrictions and changes to business operations, keeping your customers informed about what is going on with your business is key. Make sure you are regularly updating your:⠀
Business hours - With ongoing changes, you may need to adjust your business hours. When you do, make sure you are updating them everywhere they are posted (both online and offline).
Health and safety procedures - Make sure you are clearly, and regularly, communicating how your customers can shop with you (online, curbside pickup, in-person) and what procedures you have in place for them to follow.⠀
2) Expand what you have to offer While there will be limitations you can't work around, take another look at your business model to see if there are additional options that will cater to a wider range of customers.
Products - Make sure you have an online store or an easy order system. You may have patrons who aren't comfortable coming into your store to shop; make it easy for them by adding an online store and offering curbside pickup or delivery.⠀
Services - Consider if there is a virtual option that you can provide or a variation of your services that can be done remotely.
3) Talk to your customers You can gain an invaluable amount of insight by simply talking to your customers!
Ask new customers how they heard about you or have this as a field on your online checkout or intake forms. This information will help you figure out where your customers are coming from and where you may be missing out.
Use your online communication channels to supplement your in-person interactions or to help make up for the in-person interactions you may be missing out on right now.
Don't be afraid to have a conversation. Ask your customers for their feedback and be open to sharing your story and what is currently going on with your business with them.⠀
While some of these steps are easy to implement, I know that the idea of an online store can seem intimidating and that many business owners expect it to come with a long lead time and big price tag. However, this is often not the case! Many website platforms allow for the easy addition of an online store. And, when working with a client to update their website, we always go in with a plan that will fit their timeframe and budget.
We've had the pleasure of working with several local businesses over the past year to help them pivot and provide their customers with the option of online shopping and curbside pickup. Not only has this option allowed them to continue to operate throughout the pandemic, but they are also planning to keep using their online store in the future based on the positive feedback they've received from customers.
If you think that your website needs a refresh or are interested in adding an online store, get in touch with us!