5 Reasons to Get Your Business Online

Everyone’s talking about it, but nobody knows what they’re talking about. More businesses are feeling pressured to join the online business bandwagon. As a small business owner in today’s web-reliant world, creating an “online presence” is essential to the overall success of your company. And this holds true even if you’re operating a brick and mortar business. Surprised? A Forrester Report states that by 2020, 42 percent of in-store sales will be influenced by the internet. And from 2015-2020, web-influenced sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6 percent.

There are five major reasons of establishing an online presence:
  1. Shift in consumer mindset
  2. Everyone is online
  3. Lower cost
  4. Global reach
  5. Better understanding of the customer needs
Let’s get in detail now;

1. Shift in consumer mindset

We all know that consumers change from year to year. It might be slight variations; it might be huge, sweeping trends that alter the way businesses market and conceive their products and services. Either way, as Sam Cooke said, “Change is gonna come,” and you better be ready.

One of the change is that more and more customers are looking for convenience when it comes to shopping in general. For example if we take new parents who need constant supply of baby care products for their infants, they prefer if they could get those products without them going to the shop by themselves every time they run out of diapers. Which in fact creates a big potential for physical stores who could open up an online store to better engage with their customers the way they prefer. It also creates new opportunities which could be explored by new entrepreneurs without having a massive budget or an established business.

Second reason for this shift in consumer mindset is to do with the freedom of online shopping and browsing without the pressure they feel when shopping in physical store. Especially the products which don’t have to be tried on such as electronics, home appliances, baby care products and etc. Please keep in mind, some customers would still do the purchasing by visiting the storefront, but the purchasing decision of most customers is made while browsing online.

The other reason for the customers to prefer to access an online store to a physical store is that they can compare the products, such as features, prices and other additional services provided between several online businesses. This level of flexibility allow the customers to choose a product they think they deserve.

2. Everyone is online
There are more than 25 million mobile connections and more than 6 million active internet users in Sri Lanka as of February 2017. Last year alone 1.5 million mobile subscriptions and well over 300,000 broadband and dial-up internet connections, increasing Sri Lanka’s internet penetration to 30%. You might wonder what it all means to start an online business. Let me tell you, this trend of people of all age getting access to internet is only going to increase in coming years until it’ll be as of a basic need. There are already a lot of players who have tested the online markets and prospered. However unlike restrictions and limitation of physical stores, online businesses know no such things.

Due to the widely available internet access has given boost to the Sri Lankan’s presence in social media. Starting from mid-2016, the Sri Lankans number on Facebook increased from a 4 million to a 5 million and incidentally more women between the ages of 18-24 were on Facebook than men. The genders reached the equal ground in the age group of 25 -34 years and men took over hence then. This behavior of Sri Lankans stands quite different to the global trend of one billion Facebook members, where men were the majority in every age group.

Bottom line is that, Sri Lanka’s interest on e-commerce is on the rise and wouldn’t see any decline for a long long time.

3. Lower Cost
Most traditional businesses require a lot of time to set up and a lot of start-up capital, but if you’re starting an online business you don’t have to wait days or even weeks to get started. You could do it right now. An online store can be a low cost startup business compared to the startup cost for a business in the traditional venue of an onsite retail location, a well-designed ecommerce site doesn’t need to cost millions of rupees or take months or a year, possibly longer to complete.

While an ecommerce site offers businesses with low startup costs compared to traditional options, you should avoid the temptation to give in to some cost-cutting strategies. Do not have a well-meaning friend, relative or web design intern/ student build your site free.

 “A quality ecommerce store doesn’t need to be costly”

The other most crucial benefit of having low cost startup is having immediate profits. Online businesses with low startup costs offer the potential to see a return on investment sooner than traditional retail stores if set up and run properly with online advertising, great customer service and products at competitive prices.

4. Flexible time commitment
Let’s be real, most of the entrepreneurs who have started or willing to start an online business have other commitments, let it be a full time job, or other business fronts or even because of the full time studies. The great thing about online business is that you don’t have to be online 24/7, you can work on your terms. Most of the online business aspects can be easily automated.

You can also hire freelancers to maintain your website for very low fee which compared to the return you’re getting, more than manageable.

And yeah did I mention that you can work from anywhere in the world at any time? As long as you have a computer and internet access, it doesn’t matter where you are—if you run an online business, you can work from anywhere in the world.

5. Better understanding of the customer needs
In any businesses the most important this is to understand our customers. Their wants, preferences, lifestyles etc. Keep in mind that nothing stays the same, that’s why it’s important to be always engaged with the customers and the online presence of your business provides this facility. With customers’ willingness to engage with their brands, reviewing, and sharing provide huge potential for Sri Lankan businesses to take advantage of it. As of now there only a few businesses who are engaged with their customers.

Having a strong online presence builds trust among your customers in ways you can’t imagine. That’s why it’s always important to be very professional when dealing with the customers, their inquiries and comments. Don’t just sell the products, sell the experience from the moment they click that button to buy to get the products on their hand.

There are more reasons to open a business online other than I have mentioned above. If anything that I haven’t mentioned inspired you to open an online business please share it with us. We love to hear them.