Internet has reached a staggering 3 billion users in 2014 which is somewhere around 40% of the total world population. The top three countries with highest number of users are China (21.97%), USA (9.58%) and India (8.33%). To a business which runs on a local or global scale internet is one medium through which it is easy to find customer who might be interested in your product or service. Internet helps a traditional brick and mortar business model to take a quantum leap by providing immense opportunity to grow through its brick and click model. There are various ways to take leverage of internet resources to maximise your business returns with a minimal investment.
1. Internet For Market And Industry Research
Internet is the best tool for any kind of research. It is a very helpful tool for conducting market research and staying updated on the latest industry news. It provides you some crucial insights on your potential customers at minimal or no cost.
Competitor Research On The Internet
If you wish to know what all products are available in the market which is in direct competition with your product or the niche product of your industry, Internet comes to your rescue. The popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing etc will easily render you all the information you need to know about your target market. You can even search for information on your competitors, their product offerings, their pricing and their marketing strategy. You just need to type in some relevant key words in the search tab of search engines. You will get a set of pages matching your search criteria.
Reading Industry News
You can easily search for list of popular blogs related to your industry. These blogs give very helpful insights on any new updates in the industry. The changes in rules or regulations, tax related information, new products or any new technological advancement. The high ranked blogs are usually written by industry experts or seasoned professionals of the industry. These powerful insights can help you design your new product or services and even can save you from investing money on any obsolete product or service. One of the best ways to find Industry news is to visit the website of any prominent player in any particular Industry and read the blogs provided by the company. These blogs give you powerful updates and insights on the Industry and even the latest trends prevalent in the Industry. For example if you are a retailer who wishes to start your E-commerce store visiting E Bay, Amazon, Wall mart sites will help you understand the latest trends and strategies. Another way of getting industry news is keyword search in any prominent search engine like Google, Yahoo, and Bing etc. Considering the above example for an ecommerce store you can search with keywords like “Top ten blogs on ecommerce”. In the search result you will get links with the list of blogs. You can visit the blogs listed and get all the latest news on E commerce helpful for setting up your store.
Online Reports And Database
There are various companies which also provide paid market research reports pertaining to a specific industry. These reports can give your inferences and insights on your product and target audience. You can even purchase the database of your potential customers with their contact details. The only concern for this paid research is that you have to be extremely careful in selecting any organisation for getting reports otherwise the credibility of the data provided by these companies may be questionable.
2. Internet For Reaching Out To Larger Audience
The major reason for using internet is that it allows your business to reach wide variety of audiences. Every local or multinational organisation are taking leverage of social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest etc to reach out to their target customers. These mediums help you to promote your services and brand in better light. You can collect details of your potential customers and also learn about their likes and preference. You can gain powerful insights by getting online questionnaires filled by your target audience. Internet provides great networking opportunities to increase engagement of your customers in your offerings. Internet also provides direct communication channel where the potential buyers and your existing customers can easily enquire or provide feedback of your services. Not only that, internet helps you to connect with your suppliers and you can compare various suppliers to select a favourable supplier for your business.
3. Internet For Online Advertising
With the help of internet, you can easily advertise your business offerings at minimal or no cost. You can have your own company website through which you can endorse your company and its offerings in better light. You can advertise your products or services on your own website but that’s just tip of an iceberg. The online advertising through various social media is inexpensive. Facebook can run a paid campaign for your business which makes your company easily discoverable. You Tube allows you to upload videos, educating your target audience on the benefits of your product or services. You can have your company’s twitter page where you can tweet about your latest products and offers. With the help of analytic tools you can even evaluate the success of your advertising campaigns. The best approach is to advertise about your company and place at any site which caters to the audience that can be your prospective buyers. For example you are offering trendy apparel then the best place to advertise would be in any online fashion magazine. The major factor to consider in advertising online is local advertising. The first and foremost potential customers are the one which are in vicinity of your physical set up. For local advertising you need to ensure that your business is listed in the local business directories of the popular search engines. The idea behind this is whenever a potential customer searches for a product in the area of your physical set up, your business should be highlighted to get more sales.
4. Ecommerce Applications For Business Growth
The brick & click online retail stores are giving the traditional brick & mortar stores a run for their money. The key benefit of electronic commerce is that the online stores are available 24X7 and 365 days a week for the shoppers and they can purchase goods from the comforts of their home anytime. The ecommerce markets are increasing at a fast pace throughout the world. In a few years of its existence the online trade is touching a whooping 1.5 trillion dollar mark. E commerce stores are not only beneficial for your buyers, there are various ecommerce applications which help you to set up and manage your own store. The ecommerce applications allow you to efficiently manage the entire administrative task. The E commerce applications also help you manage your inventory levels and also can place order based on the condition of reaching certain inventory levels. You can easily manage all your pricing and taxations. With the help of various payment gateways, the customer can easily and safely make the purchase from your store online. You can easily run targeted marketing campaigns which you can analyse with the help of various tools. You can have visually appealing themes for your store which will give beautiful aesthetics to your online store and help you build stronger brand perception.
5. Mobile Commerce For Business Growth
Mobile commerce facilitated by mobile internet is another promising investment for business with good ROI. With the increase in penetration of Smartphones, it is expected that mobile commerce will form 30% of the total online spending by 2018. The portability and ease of shopping from smartphones and tablets is one of the major reasons of increase in M commerce market size. The next step in portability is wearable gadgets with Google Glass, smart watches already in the market. The size and growth rate of mobile commerce market is already lucrative enough that no business can ignore its potential in getting returns. M commerce is usually conducted by supplementing your online E commerce store with a mobile application which allows the customers to purchase any product from their phones. The websites which runs on a desktop computer needs to be customized for mobile or tablet screen. Any potential customer will be using a mobile or a tablet more than his computer in a day; this means a mobile phone can be used as a gateway to getting more sales. Investing on mobile technologies for your business can be a game changer in the coming years.
6. Better Customer Satisfaction
The biggest challenge is to retain customers and earn their loyalty in a highly competitive market. The internet gives a cutting edge to the businesses to stay connected with their customers. There are E commerce platforms and other tools available which allows customers to easily key in their feedbacks and complains. With the help of emails you can easily engage your customer and make your customers feel valued. The facility of comparing various products online before purchase and tracking their shipment increases their trust in a company. You can also assign a personal virtual sales person to assist your customers in shopping. There is consistent advancements and updates in web technologies to serve customers better. In today’s competitive markets a customer can switch loyalty easily as they have multiple options but with the help of advancement in technology, the businesses are becoming more transparent and customer friendly. To increase customer satisfaction you need more customer engagement. With the increase in customer engagement, the trust of the customers in brand increases. To increase customer engagement there are various strategies like providing customers a discussion forum where the customers can ask questions, provide feedback and share their experiences with any product. The other way is to organize contents where the customers can participate and compete to win rewards or loyalty points. No business can run profitably in today’s competitive market with low customer satisfaction levels.
The benefits of brick and mortar business model cannot be undermined and internet is not to compete with the traditional business model. Internet is way to enhance the traditional business by bringing efficient processes and procedure in place. Internet simplifies things and paces up the administrative task involved in a business. So for a fast paced growth of your business, you need to take leverage of internet and its resources.