A Website for a Local Business? Should I Have One?

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A Website for a Local Business? Should I Have One?

by
Harry Bartlett

"My business is local. I don't need a website". I have heard this from many fellow small business owners. Perhaps at one time this was true. But now you may want to reconsider this business philosophy. I recently had lunch with a good friend of mine who is expecting his first child with his wife. Due to their busy schedule they are doing most of their "new baby" supplies shopping on-line at night after dinner. He told me that they had recently purchased a new rocking chair (to rock their new baby asleep) on the internet and he said "we decided to buy it from a Maine based company. It was nice to be able to buy something local even though we are too busy to go to the store in person."

One of our most popular items on our website agathaandlouise.com are Puppia Harnesses. They are designed for small dogs and they are very soft so they tend to not rub against a dog's coat and leave marks on a dog's coat. Many local dog owners have discovered us because they simply Googled "Puppia Harness in Maine". Once we meet them guess what we often hear? "I'm so glad we found someone local".

We have countless examples of local people walking into our retail store (and now our showroom) with a shopping list of items from what they found on our website. They already know what they want. Why? Because they already shopped in our store before they walked in the door. Our store just happens to be on their computer in the comfort of their own home. For a retail business owner it doesn't get much better than that.

A website where local people can shop is one of the best customer service and sales tools available to you. Some small business owners have told me that they fear having people shop on their website would be impersonal and that they won't be able to establish relationships with their customers. We have had the exact opposite experience. Our website has brought us new customers and often times new friends. When designing our website we told Harry and Fletcher at Bartlett Interactive that we wanted an About Us page that had a photograph of us and that we wanted a page that conveyed to our potential customers something personal and honest about us. We don't want people to feel like that they are clicking on another website in the internet abyss...we want clients to know that - yes we are real people and yes we have a family too. In other words: You can have a personal relationship with us.

Remember local people search the web for products to buy. They are looking for answers to questions and many of your neighbors would love the opportunity to speak with and shop with someone in their community. Wouldn't you?

I have been quoted saying that, in the future, all companies will be Internet companies. I still believe that. More than ever, really.
--Andrew Grove (founder of Intel)

Gray Ashton
Agatha & Louise

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About the author

Harry started Bartlett Interactive in 1998 and focuses on integrating best practices in branding, user experience design, Internet marketing and technology to increase the value of an online presence.
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