Ever heard of the term "Brick and mortar business"? Well for as many of us that know what this means you can skip the next paragraph. For those of us that are not so conversant with the meaning of this term, A quick glance through the following paragraph will serve as a brief introduction to its semantics.
Brick and Mortar Business
This term as defined by wikipedia refers to a physical presence of an organization or business in a building or other structure see full details brick and mortar business
. More specifically, brick-and-mortar businesses are companies, SMEs and Startups that have a physical presence (e.g., a retail shop in a building) and offer face-to-face customer experiences.
Realistically there are several advantages of having a physical presence for your business such as:
- Location based marketing
- Increased brand legitimacy
- Direct customer relation (No intermediaries)
- Autonomous warehousing
- Instant gratification
Now you wonder despite having all these advantages from your physical presence why should i still take my business online? Well if you happen to already have a physical location, going online will buttress the business in more ways than one. While those of us that haven't got a physical location to set things up yet can start here by harnessing the digital opportunity online. There is not one major reason why you should get online but several. A few of them are explicitly listed below:
- Lower Opeartion Costs (Rent): The costs of setting up an online presence for your business is very low as compared to having a physical location which involves paying rent, furnishing, and other mandatory expenses.
- Virtual Offices: The idea of a virtual office came from the combination of technological innovation and the information age. As opposed to the high cost of incurring office space and setting up an executive suite. Virtual office provide communication and address services for a fee without providing dedicated office space. Depending on the budget and size of your business you can choose whether to go for a fully featured virtual office that comes with lots of professional and communications services as listed below and if your business is not financially fit enough to get a dedicated virtual office space. A website can incorporate the primary functions of a virtual office:
- Remote receptionist
- Virtual assistant
- Answering services or call centres
- Phone answering services
- Round The Clock Availability: You have the ability to run your business 24 hours, 7 days a week. When work closes at the physical locations, your online presence continues to serve your customers. Most especially if you have an ecommerce related business.
- Go Paperless, Go Green: Paper documents frequently generated before, during and after a sale process can be minimized or even stopped in some cases which will be replaced with electronic billing system and electronic documents. This in return promotes the global go green campaign by making the environment more friendly.
- Access To Global Market: Projecting your business online makes it available to 345 million internet users in Africa and over 3 billion users worldwide. This allows you to get access to large audience of prospective customers from all over the world.
- Affordable and Cost Effective Marketing Techniques: Digital marketing as compared with traditional marketing is very cost effective. A simple analogy: You get to reach more defined audience with online marketing techniques. For example a facebook ad can reach a well predefined target audience already interested in your business unlike a newspaper print ad that lacks demographic control.
- Level Playing Field: Any business have a chance to go up against its competitors whether big or small with a well planned digital marketing strategy. In reality following traditional methods, a business woud have to meet certain physical standards already established by big organizations before been able to get the attention of its target market. But with a good digital presence; an iconic brand image, a website that offers undainted user experience and online marketing plan. You are well on your way to been noticed by potential customers in need of your products and services.
- Customer Relationship Made Easy: Follow up and after sales relationship has never been easier. In the past initiating follow up with a customer that has purchased your product will be to manually exchange phone numbers or business card. But with email marketing you can collect customer email when they visit your website and use it to send follow up messages and offers. Social media is also a very good platform for two way communication between a business and her customers.
- Online Brochure: Presenting your products and services in a way that aligns with your niche industry is now very easy. A sound website with an elegant portfolio and services page can pass for a good brochure only this time it is digital and comes with a lot of advantages some of which are:
- No need to spend huge amount of money on printing brochures and distributing them
- Distributing this digital brochure is only a click away. All you have to do is send a url link of the page to respective recepients
- Your potential customers can easily find out about you and any of your products or services online
- Instant Credibility: Have you ever been in a situation where you need to convince someone that you are the real deal? You could be having a chat with someone somewhere far from where your business is physically located and you need to make reference to your work. Having a website with a portfolio section gives you a chance at proving your credibility instantly by having your work references with you at all time and in all places.
In a nutshell the above are some good reasons to do business online. An online presence for your business is a very powerful marketing and communication tool, an incredibly cost efficient platform, an environmentally friendly way to work, a sign of professionalism and pretty much a requirement today. So stop procrastinating and get online today!