Online shopping has a bad name for itself - killing small vendors on the high-street by encouraging consumers to buy the same products, for less, from online competitors. However, the key to being a successful business is recognising these changes and making them work for you. Even if you’re a small, independent boutique, exploring the potential of e-commerce could be the best thing that ever happened to your business. Since 2007, online sales in the UK have increased at about 7% each year and for 2013 they totalled £32billion (according to the UKTI). This trend is changing the landscape of business worldwide and organisations that do not adapt will be swallowed up by those that meet the new expectations.
The first thing to understand is the cause of this dramatic change: computer technology. The UK has one of the most responsive cultures to new technology and the largest adoption of internet broadband connection in homes. Most restaurants, cafes and bars now offer a free WiFi connection and we are starting to see this more and more in public spaces. For example, it is becoming the norm to have WiFi access on busses and trains and York has just rolled-out a city centre free connection for anyone on any device, with plans to extend this to the city’s walls (York City Council website).
Technology is embedded into our day-to-day lives and traditional forms of consumer engagement are simply not enough anymore. Consumers spend more and more time online so businesses must actively engage with the online community. Social media, for example, allows businesses to communicate and share ideas directly with their target audience. An engaging website, with lots to offer and an attractive, easy interface will encourage greater interaction. Most importantly, communication is expected to be quick and efficient. Cloud services provide you with the right tools and setup to offer the experience your customers expect.
This new breed of e-commerce may seem daunting or overwhelming but it opens up a wealth of new opportunities for your business. By becoming a tech-savvy organisation you can streamline the internal processes of your organisation. You can easily take advantage increasing ease-of-access with the cloud. Collaborative work tools can be securely set up and easily managed remotely which allow your employees to work better together regardless of where they are. This allows them the freedom to work from anywhere, from any device. For small businesses this can be a huge game changer. It means less time can be wasted on long commutes which means more time being productive, plus you can now employ the qualified professionals you require without the need for them to relocate.
Cloud adoption allows you to integrate the key processes of your business. More simply put, as well as internal communication being faster and more efficient, customer management and data records can be stored, tracked, visualised and utilised for better business development from an easily accessible portal. Using applications that manage your systems better results in your customers receiving a better service. This enables you to build better and stronger relationships with your client. By having a well thought-out website, with payments, orders or bookings easily taken over the web, means less fuss for your customers. The internet is borderless and limitless. You can reach new customers from all around the country, even from all around the world. Cloud allows small businesses to become international players and the results are usually fast growth.
The internet benefits everybody in the market. As well as allowing businesses to reach more and do more, consumers themselves have greater choice. More choice creates a healthy and competitive market, reducing the monopolisation of large corporations. Small businesses may feel that the pressure to compete is too great. That’s why at Vodanile we want to give you better tools, with reduced costs to gain a strong, competitive edge. Your money is better spent improving products and services, generating sales and increasing visibility.
Talk to us today about how you can build your business through e-commerce and online solutions. We have the right tools and know-how to reach more people and create a bigger impact in the vast landscape of the internet. You are only limited by your drive to grow.