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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Section 1-BUILDING A WEBSITE FOR YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS

This article further elaborates, how building an online store (website) for your local brick and mortar type of business will help you in expanding your business.
Website for your local business
Any local (brick and mortar) business you are at presently engaged in could do a lot better if you have its website too. An AC Nielsen survey recently reported that 53 percent of online shoppers planned to buy even more on the Internet in the coming years. It is but natural that the customers might be initially reluctant to buy something online, from you. However if you provide excellent customer services your customers would soon discover a unique quality product which they can acquire conveniently, quickly and easily, just by a single click. An online purchase can provide so much happiness and satisfaction that your customer will be tempted to buy your product again and again after buying your product online once.
Even if your customers don’t buy anything online, the first time they see your product the image of your product would remain buried deep in their sub-conscience. They may later make up their mind to buy your product. Thus your website not only acts as your ONLINE STORE, it acts as an ADVERTISEMENT (for life) for your product as well. Your customers will get all the information about your products and services from your website. If they like it they may buy it later from your store. Convincing the customers to buy a product online maybe initially difficult, but once they do buy and they are happy with your product and services, they will order again and again as they would find it completely hassle free and easy.
Every community has several small businesses - restaurants, service stations, barbers, hair dressers, lawn services, pawn shops, gyms, spas, florists, gift shops, dentist’s shops etc; the list goes on and on….
In today’s world, every one of these businesses can benefit from a professional presence on the World Wide Web.

EXAMPLE

Say you own a local restaurant, lets call it’ ‘my restaurant’. You can take your business online by opening its website, which could be called http://www.myresturant.com/.
Your website will enable your customers to browse your standard menu along with their prices and the composition of various dishes. You must place your order phone number on your website so that your customers can use it for placing their take-away orders and making reservations.
How to use your website to increase your business sales ?
Here are a few things you can incorporate in your website to increase sales. I will be explaining these tips in reference to the example of developing a website for a local restaurant, but these tips can be and must be incorporated into any type of business and will tremendously help in increasing sales.
1. Creating a visual picture of your restaurant: On the main page you must include nice pictures of your restaurant so that your visitors get to know the ambience and the level of luxury you shall be offering them. They should be able to form a visual picture of your restaurant in their minds You can add extra pages in which you describe the various dishes, so that the customers, who are not actually aware of the contents of a particular dish, can read the contents, method of preparation and then order according to their taste. You must also add mouth watering photos of the dishes. This shall attract the customers even more. It is a good idea to include the pictures of the restaurant owner and other staff members, this helps in building your trust and credibility .There is a famous Chinese proverb which says," I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand". People tend to remember pictures for the longest time, they might not remember the written materials but they would definitely remember the photographs.

2. Building up a subscriber’s list : Include an option for signing up for a free newsletter. You can send your newsletter on weekly or monthly basis (whatever is convenient for you). In that newsletter You can keep your customers updated about the important changes taking place in your restaurant e.g. new dishes being introduced etc. You can offer them a discount on particular dishes if they order online . As the festive season approaches, you can prepare a special menu for the festive season. You can send these details to your customers well in advance so they can plan to visit your restaurant. Offer them a discount for making their bookings well in advance. When you ask them to sign up for your newsletter ask them to enter birthdays of all their family members. Just before the date approaches send them a newsletter offering them some discount for arranging a birthday party at your restaurant.

3. About us section: You must include an 'about us' section, in which you can mention the history of your business, how many years of experience you and your cooks have etc. You must include a detailed address along with a map if possible, highlighting the major landmarks near your restaurant so that your customers can reach you easily. Telling them where they can park their vehicles might encourage them further to visit you. Adding your photograph gives people an impression that they are dealing with live people and not a machine. This helps in building their trust and credibility.

4. Give away free stuff: to your customers for signing up for your newsletter or for filling the feed back form. You can compile a few recipes in to an e-book which you can give away for free. You can offer them a discount for referring a friend to you.

5. Feed back form: You must request your visitors to fill in a feed back form in which you can ask them the following:

a. Suggestions,
b. Things which require improvement
c. New recipes they would like to be included
d. Their favorite recipes
e. Dishes they didn’t like
f. Any complaints
g. How did they like the service?
After collecting this information you must compile all the information and work on it. For e.g. many people complaining about a slow service means you must intervene and look for a problem, which is there most probably and try to sort it out.

6. FAQ section: might not be so useful for the restaurant example but other businesses must have a section which gives answers to the questions which are frequently asked by their customers. Many people have queries before buying, if they are solved the customer readily makes up his mind to buy a product.

7. Contact us: giving your contact details helps in building your customer’s trust in you.

8. Supply other stuff online: As your business grows you can add a bakery section and take orders and payments for supplying birthday and wedding cakes online.


9. Tracking your website customers: If you give a phone number on your website which is different from the number regularly used in the restaurant, you can easily track which of your customers have come through your website. The ideas how you can increase sales from your website are endless. You just need to let your imagination run and put in some hard work.