Calgary Herald

Your customers are online. Are you?


Audrey Marriott has owned The Wardrobe fashion clothing shop in Stratford, Ont., for almost two decades. But it was only recently that she decided to build a website.

One thing holding her back was the time she would need to devote to it. “I work a minimum of 60 hours a week,” she said. “Adding something digital would be even more work for me. And no one in my store is capable of maintainin­g anything like that.”

Her daughter Jackie, who owns a digital media business called Wildfire Media, stepped in to give the website a makeover.

That move improved revenue. “From the beginning of May to now we’ve done more sales than in all of 2014. With the website and the Facebook page, it’s been amazing,” Marriott said.

Marriott is one of thousands of small business owners who have resisted moving to the Web. A September global study commission­ed by GoDaddy Inc. and conducted by RedShift Research, shows, 59 per cent of very small businesses in Canada (one to five employees) don’t have a website. Forty-one per cent of respondent­s said they were too small to warrant one; 21 per cent cited lack of time to create one; 20 per cent said they can’t afford it; and 19 per cent blamed their lack of technical expertise.

Despite the resistance, 60 per cent of respondent­s said their main challenge was getting adequate exposure for their company, ranking above cash flow and profits.

It’s more about perception than reality, Jill Schoolenbe­rg, vicepresid­ent of GoDaddy Canada in Toronto, said. “Businesses simply aren’t aware that building and maintainin­g a website is inexpensiv­e, easy to do and doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can get started for as little as $20 a year.

“They don’t have to buy super complex systems or have an e-commerce site. Many business owners just need to get their presence out there and get connected, even if it’s just a Facebook page.”

Many businesses shun setting up a site because of past experience­s. More than a few have paid thousands of dollars for someone to build complicate­d code, only to have them disappear, leaving behind a site that’s impossible for a layperson to manager, Schoolenbe­rg said.

“They don’t realize there are tools that a teenager could use to build a site in about five minutes,” she said.

With 86 per cent of the younger population mainly searching on mobile devices, business owners are under added pressure, Schoolenbe­rg noted. “Some business owners may feel they’re successful enough, but over time they will need to replenish that customer base. If you’re not online, you won’t get found.”

 ?? ADAM GAGNON ?? Audrey Marriott, owner of The Wardrobe in Stratford, Ont., took her store online and saw revenue climb.
ADAM GAGNON Audrey Marriott, owner of The Wardrobe in Stratford, Ont., took her store online and saw revenue climb.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada