Ian Phillips -owner of Letsgoplanting – discusses the benefits of an online presence.
Many company owners and managers believe that having an online presence means having a company website, but in fact this is only one element of it. Other examples would be to have a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, a blog or a Google + and Places account. There are many other possibilities such as Pinterest and other social media, and the amount of online presence can be measured in the number of sites an organisation has, which appear on the web. One of the greatest advantages is that it can be a very cost effective way to expand a business, saving money on advertising, printing and communications. This will enable an increase in sales beyond their normal catchment area and at the same time reduce business and office costs.
What the web can do for you
- Using the web can also be considered an environmentally friendly way to conduct business, telecommunicating reduces car miles; newsletters, blogs and catalogues all can go online thus saving literally tons of paper? and trees!
- Freedom! A business owner or manager is easily able to run an online business whilst travelling (or on holiday!) as web connections become almost universal.
- A well designed website or other social media profile can be used to show the business in the best possible light and can give a sign of professionalism, making the company look more credible.
- One of the most important things about social media is that information can be given to customers immediately, and if they can easily link to your website, this should give many more opportunities for increasing sales.
- Garden centres are able to gain customers feedback by using online forums, surveys, independent review sites, social media pages etc. which in turn will help to improve the products and services on offer.
- Stability: by conducting business online one can move the business but the social media and website stays open for business in the same place 24/7.
- Having your own business website is more convenient for your customers, and makes it easier for them to do business with you, especially internationally.
- Click and collect is a fairly recent development which can obviously only be completed from a business website which brings in more sales as it provides customers with more options to buy.
- Digital marketing can also be good for the automation of your garden centre business; systems are available for order, and payments processes and also inventory management.
- Your website can be used to point to Facebook and Twitter or even Pinterest all to gain more exposure and followers and to give an opportunity to show your customers that you are an expert in your field.
By using the web, one can easily grow a whole community of people passionate about what you have to offer. This alone will expand the reach and awareness of your particular brand, but even more importantly it will affect viral marketing from satisfied customers, again without any marketing costs! At Letsgoplanting, we started trading just less than a year ago, and the first three months were fairly slow whilst the search engines completed their indexation of our site. We have since been working tirelessly on updating, improving and adding stock to our inventory and have seen a steady increase in sales over the last seven months. Our social media repertoire consists of Facebook and Twitter (using a website called Hootsuite to schedule our posts for us) Google plus, Google places, LinkedIn and finally Pinterest which we think has a great future. We still have a long way to go, especially with our blogging and we intend to use YouTube much more frequently in the future.
If you are new to the digital online experience, do not underestimate the time and effort required for success, which is considerable, but if done correctly, piece by piece the success will follow and the web will show you its true value.