Do I need a web-site ? I have an e-mail
address, can't I manage with it ? Can I invest in a web-site later
How often do you hear these utterances ? Well, I hear these very often - almost everyday. Somehow, it reminds me of early days of Internet when even experienced exporters used to question necessity of e-mail when they could very well communicate with fax and telex. Fax is still around (though not telex) - but the answer is a foregone conclusion. Today, e-mail is as essential for export business as IEC number - if for no other reason than your buyer's preference.
The truth is - if you wish to use Internet for marketing purpose, web-site is an essential investment. Without it, you are ill-prepared to survive and grow in overseas markets. Going to a battle field without arming yourself sufficiently has more probability of causing disaster or failure than success. Prudence demands that you prepare yourself well before starting a venture. Web-site is part of your preparedness - not the other way round.
If you are still not convinced - here's some compelling reasons for your consideration:
Establish Your Identity - Build Trust
Trust is the bedrock of any business transaction. In the anonymous world of Internet where buyer and seller seldom meet face to face - establishing one's identity is the first step towards building mutual trust and confidence. A professionally designed web-site inspires far more confidence than an anonymous (and mostly free) e-mail. With a web-site - you can provide detail information about your company including names, numbers, addresses, and directions for interested customers to get in touch as well as cross check. Besides, one can verify brief details like name, contact address, tel etc. from domain register (WHOIS) or web-host.
Attract Customers from All Over the World
The Internet has no geographic limit - reaching a customer in Canada requires no more effort or resources than reaching a customer in Calcutta or Chennai. Use this wonderful opportunity to showcase your products to worldwide audience, attract customers from all over the world. Your Internet presence exposes you to far greater number of potential customers - local, regional, nationwide, or worldwide.
What's more - information about your company and product remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No matter what time of day/night or which corner of globe - anyone can find basic information about your business, or products and get in touch with you. Web-site is not only your global show-case but it remains open 24-hours without your physical presence.
It is Superior - Yet Inexpensive
Web-site is not only a superior way of promoting products, it is far more inexpensive and effective than print or CD publication. Let us compare it with a traditional way of promotion like printed catalog.
Cost of printing a multi-page colourful catalog on quality paper is substantial. On top of that - there's postage and packing costs. Above all - there is a time loss in dispatching printed catalog that may result in opportunity loss as buyer may decide to buy from someone else by the time the catalog arrives. Finally, one can not change content of printed catalog - they are dead as soon as published.
Compare this with web-site - one can have a reasonably good web-site at fraction of cost of printing a 25 page colourful catalog. There's no postage or packing cost and access is instantaneous, so no time or opportunity loss. Maintenance of content is a breeze as you may add new products or update existing ones as many times as you like.
Apart from economy there are many other benefits like business e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), live chat, auto responders, payment gateway etc. that go with web-site.
Unlike most forms of advertising or promotional material, the web is not a one way street - it is interactive. Your web-site facilitates two way interaction between you and your customer. Customers' Comments, suggestions, feedback etc. are invaluable input to improve your business and customer relations.
Help Your Customer to Locate You
Directories and yellow pages help us to locate suitable vendors. There are enough businesses, organizations, and people now on the web that many people use it as one of their first sources for information. How can you get listed in search directories to be accessible by the public when you don't even have a web page?
Think of the internet as a huge Yellow Pages with no limitation on the size of your advertisement. By investing in a web-site, you are enlisting your company in this global yellow pages and helping your customer to locate you conveniently.
Build Professional Image
A professionally designed web-site is a statement about your company, an excellent communication medium to convey your image. Use this tool to build a positive image about your company that inspires confidence in your customer. Information is a powerful marketing tool. Educate your customer with detail information about why and how they can benefit from using your products and services (whether you want to sell online or not).
Web-sites have emerged as an essential tool for those who wish to use Internet for marketing. Its effective use may decide the extent of your future success. If you have a web-site, explore how to make better use of it. If you do not have one - go for it right away.
Happy and Productive Surfing
Dr. Amit K Chatterjee
- Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad
Vol: 6, Issue 11
; September 9' 2005