Business websites are now a common feature in South Africa and elsewhere.
In a world where ever growing numbers of people have access to computers, mobile phones and other devices which facilitate access to the internet, it seems obvious that small business owners can only benefit from having a website. Not only can customers quickly find the information they need about the product/service or company by visiting the website, websites can also be configured for e-commerce (online purchases), or to allow users to send e-mail messages to company representatives.
Despite these benefits, do small businesses in South Africa really need to have dedicated websites as an enabler for success? This is a valid question given the time, money and effort required to design a well-constructed website that boosts sales and is a valuable marketing tool.
As starting point, where the business is located and who it serves plays a role. In a small town where everyone knows each other and the business’ customers are all locals, one could argue that a website is unnecessary as it is easy for community members to keep track of who provides what.
Also, in small town people are far more likely to physically visit a store even if only to browse, as there are limited opportunity costs for wasted trips (e.g. most service providers are likely to be located close to each other, allowing the customer to attend to other matters of interest). In this kind of setting, why would a small business need a website? Other factors to consider are the type of industry the small business operates in (some are more technologically-oriented than others, and a website signals that you are a serious player), and whether the business intends to service customers outside its immediate physical vicinity. The size of the small business (i.e. whether it employs one person or twenty) is irrelevant as the main purpose of the website is to let people know who you are and what you do. For those small businesses who want to test the waters where websites are concerned, Google acting in conjunction with local partners has recently launched a new offering called (Woza Online). This allows South African small business owners to create their own websites, free of charge, in just a few hours.
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi