Making sales is like ten-pin bowling
So, why does my business need a website anyway?
This is a question we’re met with a lot. For some, a digital presence just seems like a no brainer. It would be like shop refusing to install a door – for most businesses it’s just one of those things you should have if you want to be in business.
The questions tend to start around the same time the quotes start arriving in the inbox. Websites can be expensive, and ecommerce sites even more so with costs starting from as much as $4000 NZD. (Don’t believe me? Just Google “average cost of ecommerce build” and see for yourself.) With a considerable sum hanging over the decision, it’s natural to start questioning whether that money is best spent on a website. Afterall, just because you shouldn’t run a business without online channels doesn’t mean that you can’t run a business purely through your physical store.
Rather than giving you the same surface level arguments about why you need a website, let’s take a look at some specific, quantifiable things that demonstrate why a website is such a valuable investment.
Sales is like bowling
Imagine, if you will, that selling is like a game of 10-pin bowling. Each frame represents an opportunity to sell to a prospective customer and each pin represents a touch point with that customer on their path to purchase. When you knock down all 10 pins, that represents a sale.
For the sake of our analogy we need to recognise that each of the pins aren’t of equal value. For example, if we bowl our ball and hit just one of the pins at the back corners, chances are we are only going to knock down that one pin. Perhaps that would be like your customer seeing a small ad in the local newspaper. They might notice it, and it will no doubt contribute to the overall score, but it is unlikely to drive them to rush out and buy something from you.
In comparison, hitting the pin that is front and centre greatly increases the chance of getting a strike (aka getting a sale). For our purposes, that might represent a customer coming in store. When they step into your physical store they’re met with all sorts of interactions that can have a chain reaction resulting in their decision to make a purchase.
“The trouble is that having two lanes is quite a lot of effort. You’re essentially running two distinct retail businesses and weighing up the costs and benefits of each.”
The question we have now is where digital channels fit in this analogy. Imagine if your competitor in this bowling match decided to rent a second lane right next to their first. They began bowling down both lanes for each frame, thus increasing their available pins to 20 per frame. That is what ecommerce has done to the retail industry. Sure, you could just keep bowling down the traditional lane, but you’re leaving a whole lane with potential value completely untouched.
The trouble is that having two lanes is quite a lot of effort. You’re essentially running two distinct retail businesses and weighing up the costs and benefits of each. Instead of spending double your energy on two lanes, you could adopt an omni-channel strategy. This would be like putting your extra 10 pins in the first lane, effectively doubling your potential score with every bowl. Sure you might have to bowl a little harder and knocking down all the pins won’t be as straight forward, but the potential upside is huge, even if you don’t get a strike every time.
This metaphor might be reaching its limit, but hopefully you get the picture.
It’s about touchpoints. The more you have, the more likely you are to hook a new customer. Simple as that.
There's more where that came from!
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Less why, more how.
The answer to why you need a website is very simple: it is a tool that will help you grow your business and make more sales. That’s the ultimate goal and every part of your website should be optimised to support that goal. But that’s not all that useful in measuring the value that your website creates for your business.
To fully understand how a website creates value for your business, it is important to understand what those touchpoints are and how they affect the way your business is perceived by your customers.
Simply put, you can’t sell to customers who can’t find you and see what you have available. This is one of the most significant and underrated benefits of being online. I could throw a whole lot of stats at you here about how people interact with people, and I will!
Source: Think with Google
As you can see, people are looking for you online. If you’re not even visible when they enter a search into their phones, then you might as well take half of the pins out of your lane before you bowl. In short, being online ensures that your customers can find you and buy from you.
And let’s be honest – before they phone you, there is a pretty low chance they’re picking up the phone book to grab your number, they’ll be dialling the number they found online for you.
There was once a time when online services were met with scepticism and mistrust. That time was 20 years ago and it’s now the exact opposite. Younger consumers are increasingly looking for online and even automated help from the likes of chatbots. In addition, they have reported preferring these interactions over dealing with a real person. That goes for seniors too, older consumers are reporting higher levels of trust in digital channels.
Taking this one step further, research suggests that the quality of your online experience can have a significant impact on whether customers will choose you again in the future. This shows us that digital channels are no longer a competitive advantage, but are a core part of building strong customer relationships. If you aren’t online, you’ll struggle to build trust with your customers.
We couldn’t talk about online channels in 2021 without touching on the importance of business continuity. Not to labour the point, but we’ve all seen how quickly and drastically the nature of retail can change in the face of uncertainty. From a purely practical standpoint, having multiple channels through which you can operate your business creates flexibility. If you want to provide some level of security to your business, then getting setup online is a great first step.
Long story short, if you're not online then you're leaving a whole lot of potential on the table. It may not be easy but it will definitely be worth it in the long run.