Q: I have a small online store in a popular social networking site and it’s been doing okay so far. However, I’m thinking about coming up with a formal website to be able to reach more customers and appear more credible. Should I go through with it or stick to my current portal?
In the digital age, having a website is almost a must. As more and more people turn to the Internet for their personal needs, it is essential to have a World Wide Web presence to lure customers to your company’s products.
Social networking is huge in the Philippines, and this phenomenon has spawned a new breed of entrepreneurs: pocket retail stores that exist in these densely populated sites. In lieu of a traditional storefront, these free accounts give businesses an outlet to source customers and make money. But if you’re thinking of taking your online store to the next level, building a formal website should be on the top of your list.
According to Alvin Tan, CEO of Web services company Technominds Inc., the virtues of having your own website is enormous in this day and age. “A website is the virtual face of your company, where clients have easy access to your products and services 24/7. It’s like an interactive calling card. It is a great cost-saving tool as well, as it markets your products and services without the costs of a print ad; it also helps you get your foot in the door with international customers looking for solutions your company can provide,” he said.
Tan says being small is no excuse for not having a website, reasoning that the Internet is a great ‘equalizer’ where smaller businesses can take on the big boys on a level playing field.
“It doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 employees or two, the Internet is a place that does not discriminate against size. In fact, small businesses can be at an advantage here because they can be more flexible and more responsive than their bigger competitors,” he said.
RULES FOR CREATING A BUSINESS WEBSITE
According to Kent Lim, Chief Technology Officer for Technominds, a business website must conform to some basic rules of web design in order to succeed.
“It’s easy enough to setup a website if you have a plan in place. But it’s not enough to just put it up there; you must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer,” he said.
He lists five things to keep in mind when starting a website:
1. Know your visitors. Your site should be designed to fit customer needs. That means if you\\\'re a retailer, know the demographics of the people you\\\'re selling to. “A good rule of thumb to follow: know more about your audience than they know about you,” Lim said.