By Simon Devonshire, Entrepreneur in Residence @BISgovUK and Director at Wayra Europe
Consumer behaviour has changed:
As a shopper, I literally cannot remember the last time that I went into a supermarket ‘super-store’.
Virtually everything that I buy I purchase online. My behaviour is not exceptional. I don’t think that the evolution of my buying habits is especially unusual. Even if I am arguably more ecommerce-active than the average consumer, it seems to me that soon my online buying behavior will become dominantly normal, and that this shift to e-commerce is utterly inevitable.
And yet, businesses seem to be stuck in the past:
UK Government stats suggest alarmingly that in some sectors as many as half UK businesses don’t yet have a website. And of those that do have a website, worryingly almost half are non-transactional. UK Government disappointedly estimates e-commerce penetration of the total UK business population to be approximately one third — therefore two out of every three businesses do not have a transactional website.
However, having run the business division of O2 I know from firsthand experience that as recently as three years ago, when asked, the majority of UK business owners were adamant that having a landline phone number was essential to being in business.
Getting businesses on-line:
There are many reasons why business people choose not go online. Key insights I’ve heard that drive deliberate avoidance of ‘going-digital’ include: “I have enough business already, I don’t want/need any more custom”, “I don’t know how to do it” or “Yes I use the internet but my customers don’t”.
It occurred to me that assertively insisting that they should do so is not especially helpful. I figured that rather than simply talk about something that they are evidently not compelled by, that instead it might be more useful to talk about something that they universally seem to accept as making good business sense: landlines.
Online is the new landline:
British Businesses should consider having a presence online as more important than having an office landline telephone number. Online is the new landline. A landline number used to be a mark of authenticity for businesses. The move to a digital economy has meant consumers are more likely to trust a business with a website and consider a business more credible if they offer the ability to transact seamlessly online.
Web-presence is no-longer optional:
Irrespective of a business’s appetite to win more customers; regardless of the business owner’s desire and ambition to Scale-up; in the Digital Economy I passionately believe that:
• Every business now has to have a website, irrespective of the nature of their business.
• There are no exceptions. Literally.
Being online is not just about doing business, it is about being found. It is about saving time (for both you and your customers). And importantly, it is about being trusted.