Small business owners might benefit from boosting company websites

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Business website design might be more important now than ever as a study reveals that consumers check online before shopping

In a trend that likely crosses the border, a survey from BIA/ Kelsey's User View Wave project indicates that most American consumers are turning to online media before making decisions about which local businesses to support.

The study found that 90 percent of the purchasing public use search engines when researching products or services in their communities. It would seem that many prospective clients regard online offers as the most important decision-making elements for products and services in their communities.

Steve Marshall, director of research at BIA/Kelsey, says the data might indicate a turning point in consumption, "where the balance of power in local shopping is shifting to online."

The survey also shows that 58 percent of respondents took advantage of online coupons when shopping in the past year. This might indicate to business owners that it would be wise to offer promotional products and rebates as part of their website services.

Additionally, 19 percent of consumers like to make an appointment online before visiting a store. It might be useful for entrepreneurs to include "book online" features on their small business website design.

Taking advantage of this information might help small business owners catch consumer dollars. Still, SME owners should be careful to make sure to uphold Industry Canada's ecommerce principles that are established to protect Canadian consumers when they are shopping online, ranging from the security of transactions to the provision of clear and accurate information.


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