It can be tempting to think that small businesses do not need a website in the modern era of drop shipping, Amazon, social media advertising, and remote fulfilment. With so much business being done via e-commerce sites such as the aforementioned giant of Amazon, and Alibaba, why would anyone need a website of their own to trade through?
There are certain steps to creating a website for a small business and as it turns out, there are many reasons why it is still a good idea for any type of business to have its own website.
Websites as digital footprints
Firstly, discoverability on the internet is all about Google rankings. If potential customers cannot find you through a quick Google search, your business is going to suffer as a result. If a customer can’t find your product, there is every likelihood that they will find a rival in that search and check out their products instead. Whilst social media accounts and regular postings will also push your brand up the Google search rankings, having a website that is updated regularly will do this far more effectively than anything else.
With options such as WordPress available as a free CMS, and some of the best WordPress hosting being extremely reasonably priced, there is little to no reason for any business to put off building a great looking website, even with relatively sparse knowledge on the subject.
Don’t be at the mercy of other platforms
There is also the fact that, if you conduct most of your business on another platform, for example, through Facebook or Amazon, you can find your business in some rather serious hot water, should you ever be kicked from the platform, or the platform itself ceases to function. While the latter is unlikely to happen to those platform giants, being banned from selling on Amazon is something that many small enterprises have come to experience once they (sometimes unintentionally) fall foul of the rules imposed by the digital marketplace. If that happens to your company, and you have nowhere else for your customers to buy or even contact you, it can be the beginning of the end for many of us who rely on a steady income from our business. A website can be a kind of ‘insurance policy’ against such measures being taken by the marketplace of your choice.
Your business should look authentic and trustworthy
Having a website also provides a level of authenticity to an SMB, that those without one lack. Many customers simply do not trust a company without a website, in the same way that they may not trust a company without any obvious channels in which to contact them. A website can act as a sort of hub, in which all social media accounts are provided in one place, access to a phone number or customer service email/queries form is provided, and information about your company and its history is paraded front and centre. Sometimes it pays to put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and imagine placing your trust in a company that has all of this on a professional-looking website, and then counter that with the idea of handing money over to a company that is only present on a 3rd party platform.
Your website, your way
Having a website also allows you to showcase your products or services in a way that is extremely difficult to do without one. While your customers may see other products that you sell on the digital marketplace of your choosing, with your own website, you get to choose exactly how they are displayed, and what products are pushed to the front at a particular time, and in a way that suits your company brand. You and your business get to retain control over every aspect of your branding, and can adjust it to suit changing stock, product upgrades, and seasons.
Having a website gives your company flexibility, an aura of authenticity, and increases accessibility to you and your products. Without one, you run the risk of losing your marketplace, experience decreased discoverability compared to those with a larger online footprint and look less trustworthy than those who are easy to find online. Whether those risks are worth taking is down to each individual business, but with little to no boons associated with a lack of web presence, it does beg the question, why would you reduce your web presence in the digital era?