Many people running brick and mortar companies just don’t get how the Internet is important to their business. They see their site as a brochure of sorts. For some, it’s a relatively successful add-on. Others are somewhat disappointed. Many sites went up a few years ago when every business magazine, advisor and even the odd development agency were promising that the Internet would change how you do business.
“Build it and they will come”.
Some of that advice forgot to mention that just putting a website up isn’t going to have customers beating down your door and I can understand how some business people got disillusioned. Some of them have jumped to the dangerous conclusion that the Internet isn’t really a factor in their line of work.
This is 2009. The gold rush is over and I’m not here to tell you that you have to have a website or that it will change your life. I’m going to try to explain why today’s companies probably can’t afford to “not get” the Internet for much longer.
The Internet is important to potential customers.
In April 2007, Accenture published a study about online product research. They found that 67% of respondents preferred to purchase goods in physical stores. They also found that:
- 69% of consumers research product features online.
- 58% use the Internet to locate items online before going to a store to purchase.
- Only 13% said the Internet has not improved their shopping experience.
The vast, vast majority of purchases in today’s world are influenced by online activity. What’s more, consumers are consistently proving to be more interested in recommendation than any other means of assessing companies and their products / services. And they are getting those recommendations from the Internet.
Here are some more thoughts from SearchEngineWatch:
- Online reviews are second only to word of mouth when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions.
- After user manuals, the Internet is the second ranked source for customer support information. Above calling the manufacturer.
Purchasers are looking to find out more about your company and the products or services you offer and they are looking for that information online. The Internet is important to your potential customers and it had better get important to you. The Internet needs to be a place where potential customers can find out about your products or services and get to know you a little bit better.