Transform your back street shop into an online market leader with the right domain name
We hear a lot about the demise of the High Street. Across the UK, one in ten shops now lies empty and that figure rises to 16% in Yorkshire and the North of England to to 15% in Northern Ireland (British Retail Consortium and Springboard, August, 2016).Small independent retailers are struggling against a tide of rising rental costs, competition from supermarkets offering an ever-increasing range of goods beyond food, and of course the rise of the internet.
But it's online that traditional mom and pop stores can find their salvation. E-commerce sales have now surpassed one billion a week in the UK and are growing by double digits year upon year. The IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index rose by 18.9% between October, 2015, and October, 2016.
This summer, while away for the weekend, I had the good fortune to stumble across a fantastic little gift shop. I could have spent a small fortune there and would do if I lived within striking distance of it. I asked if the shop had a website so that I could order from home, but to my surprise I was told it didn't. What a waste of a golden opportunity.
The internet offers the nearest thing to a level playing field that small retailers will find today. Yes, it is dominated by big names like Amazon and John Lewis, but that doesn't mean small shops with an online presence can't punch above their weight.
The right domain name for a business can immediately convey the image of a market leader to potential customers - and there's nothing stopping a small retailer being a market leader online.
Take your local fancy dress shop as an example. It opens from 9am to 5pm, six days a week, serving its local community. There will be parts of the week when the shop is very quiet. Monday mornings or Tuesday afternoons perhaps. The obvious way for it to grow sales is to have an online presence. A website can take orders 24-7, 365 days a year, and orders can be processed during normal business hours, not least when the shop is empty.
And here's how that small retailer can compete with the big boys. By using a domain name that suggests it is a bigger player than a single shop in a small town would suggest. A name like FancyDressClothes.co.uk or FancyDressOutfits.co.uk immediately makes Bob's Fancy Dress Shop look like an established big player online, providing the perfect building block from which to become just that.
That's the competitive advantage gained by investing in a great name for your business. The Financial Times said that if the internet is a virtual world, domain names are its real estate. Think of a great domain name as premium real estate that can transform your business from a back street independent to a potential market leader.