If you’re still on the fence about whether to develop your business’s online presence, it’s time to make your own ‘leap of faith’ and get online with a website and an app.

Over the last decade, one trend has become clear. You can’t have a successful business without an online presence.

Like it or not, technology has changed the landscape of modern business. Businesses that don’t keep up with new digital markets disappear —including some of the biggest retail giants.

As you’ll see, recent happenings have shown that businesses simply can’t survive without an online presence.

Still not convinced. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Why an Online Presence Matters?

Though it doesn’t seem as though ‘bricks and mortar’ stores – physical stores, will always be around, much of the global consumer base is increasingly turning to online retailers.

Online retailing has opened new markets to shoppers, giving them access to items they can’t find in their local areas.

Add delivery to the front door on a wide selection of items, and online shopping becomes a ‘go-to’ choice for many with a busy schedule.

That being said, it follows that an ever-growing market of your potential customers goes online before they ever step foot into a store.

That’s right—and what’s more telling, is that this trend proves true even for those who eventually buy their products in a physical store.

With some studies suggesting that over 80% of people will research products online before buying, it’s now more important than ever that small businesses have an effective online presence.

How Does Not Having an Online Presence Affect Your Business?

Businesses that are not online will sell less. It’s that simple.

For starters, if you don’t market online, you’ll often find your business lagging behind the competition. This is really important if you’re a small business relying on local trade.

But it’s also true if your customers come from further away.

The most important consideration that many businesses owners overlook is the fact that the digital market has increased competition.
Instead of competing with that other store across town, now businesses must prepare to compete with others from across the globe.

What can be even more troubling is the fact that customers are likely to buy their products from the first store they can find—and if you’re not online, it won’t be yours.
Even if those same customers decide to check out a brick-and-mortar store for more specific pricing information, chances are, they’re not going to give your business a shot.
If you’re just starting out, establishing an effective online presence should be at the top of your list. With a proper digital marketing campaign, you can ensure that you won’t fall behind your competitors.

For businesses that already are behind their competitors because of a mishandled online marketing scheme, the game is a bit different. It’s likely that while you’ve been neglecting your online presence, your competitors have been building theirs, so you’ll have to overcome additional challenges to get the job done.

Unfortunately, even some of the largest retailers in the history of the US have been unable to overcome this dilemma.

By examining the cases of Toys “R” Us and Woolworths, one can see the effects of not having an online presence first-hand.

Case Studies

The final years of toy-giant Toys “R” Us provided some of the most-detailed insight into just how failing to establish an online presence can affect a business.

While it’s fair to say that there was more to play in Toys “R” Us’ demise than that, it cannot be ignored that one of the driving factors behind the company’s much-covered bankruptcy was its insistence on its brick-and-mortar stores.

While their competitors were out building online brands, Toys “R” Us was investing nearly $7 billion in in-store upgrades. In hindsight, it became clear that this was an investment that would have made better returns if it had been put to getting a foot into the online market.
With competitors such as Walmart and Amazon leveraging their own online presences to slash prices, Toys “R” Us failed to recover enough profits to compete in the digital sphere.

In the end, Toys “R” Us fell victim to a cycle of debt—despite the fact that toy sells in the nation were at some of the highest levels in decades.

With the former giant closing all US-based stores in June 2018, Toys “R” Us demonstrated the absolute need for the quick and effective development of an online presence.
Australian grocery giant Woolworth is facing similar troubles. Though the company’s net income is up over last year, studies have found that Woolworths inability to establish and early market presence has put it behind its competitors.

These same studies suggest that Woolworths late entrance into the online market meant potential customers looked elsewhere, leading the company to fall far short of the global average in online sales.

The Bottom Line

Businesses cannot survive in today’s market without establishing authority in the traditional sphere. By failing to digitize, companies put themselves at odds with their customer base and fall behind their competitors.

What’s more, neither small nor large businesses are immune to this trend. With even giant retailers like Toys “R” Us falling victim, it’s important that all business owners who want to succeed, get online — no matter their size.

If you’re not online now, the chances are you’re already behind your competition. You can build a long-lasting and sustainable brand online. And, if you’ve got a bricks and mortar presence too, you can make both your business assets work together. Increase customers through the door and online!

If you’re looking for a proven and effective way to grow your business and help see those sales figures go up instead of down, invest in your business’s online presence.

Let’s face it: if you want your business to stick around for the long-term, you don’t even have a choice.

Get started building your online presence today!