Usually, when we want to find something in 2016, whether its news, information or a local business, the first place we turn to is the internet. It helps that most of us have now access to it wherever we are, provided our smartphone can get a signal.
Some experts, such as digital-focused charity the Tinder Foundation, have predicted that 90% of transactions or more will take place online by 2020.
This makes it all the more baffling that, according to research from GoDaddy last year, 60% of the UK’s small businesses (those with five or fewer employees) do not have a website. Presumably, these companies are reliant on people calling into their premises, thumbing through the phone book to find them, or good old-fashioned word of mouth for their business.
Why, though, would any company choose to distance itself from the online world in this digital era? Earlier this year, American digital company Clutch asked some U.S. internet-dodging businesses what their reasons were for not having a site, and two key explanations emerged:
1. It’s not relevant to my business
This was the reason given by almost a third (32%) of businesses, but it’s a bit of a puzzling one. What industry has no use for the internet in today’s business world?
Businesses taking this viewpoint might include manual services like plumbers, electricians and handymen, but they could use the web to promote their work and allow people to contact them. It’s actually a much more practical and reliable way of booking and managing jobs than taking queries over the phone while trying to fix a boiler or unblock a toilet.
Companies that primarily cater to elderly people may think that online investment is a waste of time, but Office for National Statistics research shows that even among Britons aged 75 and older, 38.7% of them have used the web within the last three months. Among those aged 65-74, this figure rockets to 74.1%, so the idea that ‘old people don’t use the internet’ is untrue and will become increasingly so as we all age.
2. It’s too expensive
All successful businesses need to keep an eye on their funds, but a website is a real investment.
Of course, it’s possible to get one free of charge through a tool like Wix, but a professionally designed one, customised to your business, is something you can barely afford not to have.
There were a few other reasons given, such as using social media instead of a company website (14%). Social media channels are of course commendable in business, but can’t be customised to the extent of a well-built site, so should complement your website rather than replace it.
Some companies also said they were worried about ongoing website maintenance (11%) and their own lack of technical knowledge (10%), both of which can be overcome by hiring an online marketing or web development company. Amazingly, 3% admitted that they simply didn’t know why their business didn’t have a website, which is honest if nothing else.
Really though, not having a website makes little sense, and goes against all logic in an era when so many of us can barely even imagine life without the web.