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New research issued by promo code app RetailMeNot in collaboration with the Centre for Retail Research has revealed that Brits are the biggest mobile shoppers in the whole of Europe. In fact, we spend over £8billion through mobile transactions last year and this figure is expected to increase by 169% next year and generate a whopping £22billion. This is just one good reason why you need to introduce your bricks-and-mortar business to the wonders of the internet.

So when you’re walking down a busy street full of people with their eyes glues to their mobile phones, most of them will probably be doing their shopping as they simultaneously go about their day. This is known as the ‘mcommerce’ generation and you need to provide for them if you want your business to be a strong contender in this technology-forward marketplace. Depriving your business of exposure to the gargantuan international customer base that the internet provides is a stone-age approach that small businesses looking to grow just can’t afford to take anymore.

An online reputation requires financial and professional investment

What a lot of bricks-and-mortar business owners fail to realise about online trading and/or setting up a website is that it’s as much of a financial and time-heavy investment as launching a physical unit. A poor quality website, which functions as badly as it looks will be fruitless and will likely transpire to be a waste of your precious time and money. It’s vital that you set aside some capital to pump into getting a great website made with on-brand aesthetics and user-friendly functions that are appealing to both existing and potential customers.

The most successful online businesses and webpages invest in search engine optimisation (SEO) management either through internal recruitment or third-party outsourcing to ensure lucrative search engine ranking. Of course, this costs money and might add a financial pinch to begin with but implementing these good habits from the offset will guarantee positive ROI further down the line.

As well as monetary obligations, setting up and maintaining an efficient online presence calls for continued time commitment, which you will need to infiltrate into your current management process. Unfortunately websites don’t just sit pretty at the top of Google search results doing all the hard work for you, you will need to apply some serious elbow grease if you want get a return from your digital efforts.  You will need to revisit, rework and reinvent your online presence in the same way you would your bricks-and-mortar shop window, for example and you might even need to employ additional help in order to do so.

As well as the surface ‘look’ of the website and digital content, it’s also vital that you invest some time into doing some more market research. You’ll know all about this from selecting the location of your bricks-and-mortar premises, right? You will have carried out investigations into where your competitors set up shop and the footfall data attached to your prospective destinations. Well, it’s equally as paramount to gain insight into online traffic, online consumer habits and what your competition is going to enhance its own digital reputation. The online and offline marketplaces are two entirely different ballgames and you need to be captain of both to ensure brand consistency and business efficiency.

So before you head off to Cyberland in search of your next entrepreneurial milestone, check our quick tips when introducing your bricks-and-mortar business to the World Wide Web:

It doesn’t have to be transactional – your website doesn’t necessarily have to offer an ecommerce service straight away, although we would advise considering this in the future. Some products and services don’t lend themselves to online sales and benefit from a website that can be used as a platform to host a blog or promotional outlet instead. Blog content is great for landing search results and delivering great content marketing but you need a website to host it from first.

Don’t forget to capture data – Whether your website is going to be used to sell products and services or simply to invite an online readership, it’s important to implement a marketing strategy that will allow you to capture visitor data. Offer the user an in-store discount that they can redeem by providing their email address and then add this email address to your database for future newsletters or e-shots.

Get listed on Google places – Getting yourself registered with Google My Business is a great way to increase your online visibility and rub Google up the right way. The aim of the online game is to climb those search engine result ranks and this is just one simple way you can increase your chances.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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