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Small businesses turn to free tools and hosted ecommerce solutions
A survey of small businesses in the UK reveals just how many adopt a DIY approach to their online presence and marketing. Are off-the-shelf websites a good idea, or is it worth the extra dollars to have a custom presence?
Small businesses, with their smaller budgets, are becoming savvy in the use of free online services and platforms that keep the cost of hiring outside help to run their online presence to a minimum.
Of the 500 small business owners surveyed by YouGov, 39% created their own websites. That's not the only online, hands-on activity that small businesses keep in-house - 31% handled their own online advertising and 34% conducted their own PR.
The survey, commissioned by web-publishing platform Wix.com, found even more, 58%, turn to online blog or website platforms to create their online presence and promote their business, using free listings and social media to create awareness.
In an interesting article in The Guardian (UK), one businessman tells of how he set up his now-burgeoning company online on the back of a thirty buck, hosted e-commerce solution - far cheaper than the thousands he had been quoted by professional web development companies to create his own online space.
The businessman, David Lenehan of Northern Industrial, explains how, after setting up his hosted website, he "spent some time reading around the subject area of SEO (search engine optimization) and online marketing", enjoying the free information and community support that can be found online.
"Over the past five years, Northern Industrial has grown 40% each year and now has customers all over the world and more than £9m [$14m] worth of stock," says Lenehan. "We have supplied the Pirelli factory in Argentina, a beverage factory in South Africa, the US Air Force, and an oil rig off the coast of India. Not bad for a small family company starting off with a £19.99 [$31.11] website."
While off-the-shelf websites are cheap to set up, they can't be compared to custom ecommerce solutions. Yes, custom solutions cost more because they require specific programming and design, but the end result is a professional, high-end consumer experience and a more flexible, responsive approach to the overall business presence.
Image via Shutterstock
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