Small businesses that conduct all of their sales in a brick-and-mortar shop often can’t afford to pay big bucks for advertising. That is why it is crucial that a small brick-and-mortar business have a good-quality website.
I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to find information about a business via a Google search only to discover that the store or restaurant only has a Yelp listing. Do you want the only information about your business to be provided by someone who stopped in your shop for about 10 minutes three years ago and wrote a one-sentence anonymous review?
I’ve also run into a problem with businesses that have a website, but don’t update it regularly, or had someone else set it up and then never checked to make sure all of the links worked.
The following are some quick checks you can do to make sure your customers (and potential customers!) get the most out of your website:
- Include your address, telephone number, email address, and business hours on the website. When your business hours change, be sure to change them on your website. If your shop will be closed for a couple of weeks while you are away on holiday, make note of it on your website! On multiple occasions, I have shown up at a business to make a purchase, only to find the shop closed, with no notice of when they would re-open.
- Include an email address. Not everyone is going to be able to call you during business hours. Many of your potential customers may have jobs at which they cannot make phone calls during your business hours. If you don’t have an answering service, or take/respond to voice mails for calls placed outside of business hours, you simply must have some way for people to get an answer to a question they have about you BEFORE they take a day off of work to come to your shop.
- Do you use “contact forms” instead of providing a phone number or email address? You would not believe how many businesses I have tried to contact whose website contact forms fail to load on the page properly, or show an error message after I’ve written all of my info and a detailed question and hit the “send” button. If you use a contact form, you had better make sure that it works, and that it continues to work, and that you have an alternate way that a current or potential customer can contact you in the event that the form stops working.
- Check your links. I have mentioned this very recently with respect to business marketing materials, but it also goes for websites. Make sure that all of your links go to the correct page. If you redesign your website, you need to go through every link on every page to make sure new page names are reflected in all of the links.
Small brick-and-mortar businesses are very important to communities and those citizens who want to shop local. But you need to make it easy for them to find you when you are open.
Bernadette Geyer provides writing, copy editing, and translation services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and writers. She also leads online workshops on a variety of topics for small businesses and writers. Geyer likes being a small fish in a big pond, and enjoys helping others move to bigger ponds themselves.