With the explosion in mobile internet access driven by the ready availability of smartphones at low cost and the reduced price of access, a revolution is in the making as more people than ever before look to use the web to inform their purchasing decisions.
This revolution, says Johani Marais, country manager of HansaWorld in South Africa, is further driving the case for every business to seriously consider putting at least part of its operations online.
“There can be little question that we are the internet generation and that more people than ever are appreciating the advantages of online access to information,” she says. As that groundswell grows, Marais says an inevitable progression will follow. “It starts with accessing information and rapidly progresses to transacting and purchasing goods as an appreciation of the convenience and safety of using the net builds with regular use.”
With this developing situation, Marais says every business owner should start considering their web strategy more carefully if they haven’t already done so. And if this sounds familiar, she agrees that it is not the first time that web strategies are introduced as a pressing concern. “A decade ago, much hype surrounded e-commerce and the necessity for ebusiness,” she concedes.
Of course, that hype proved misplaced; however, the situation today is vastly different. “A critical mass is being reached where all strata of consumers and customers have access to the net and are using it to guide their purchasing decisions. If you’re not online, you may be missing potentially your biggest revenue opportunity.”
There is good news, too. Along with growing internet usage and the maturity of access comes improved software which makes the establishment of a web presence and fully-functional store far easier and lower cost than was the case ten years ago.
For example, says Marais, HansaWorld, which has over 77 000 clients around the world, provides its Webshop module which equips any company to implement online B2B or B2C trading with little or no developer involvement.
“The ability to very quickly, easily and securely create an online shop neatly solves the issue of the growing necessity to have a website which not only delivers information, but which can also take orders and kick off the processes for fulfillment,” she notes. “And just as important is the cost – such solutions are not major projects, do not rack up big developer bills and nor do they require specialist skills for their maintenance and operation.”
That’s something which Marais says many HansaWorld clients are already enjoying. “By using Webshop to extend their enterprise online, these organizations are not only taking care of business today, they are also ready for the exponentially growing number of consumers to whom finding, researching and buying o the internet is second nature. The question you should be asking yourself is whether you can afford not to put your business online, too”, she concludes.