How online creates competition for rural businesses
The development of online retail and trading has changed the way small and regional businesses sell their products.
As online erases any geographical or location challenges a business may have, it provides greater opportunities for rural and regional businesses to deal with a wide variety of clients.
eCommerce also allows rural businesses to introduce much more efficient purchasing options where payments can be processed on the spot without the need to invoice or provide personal banking information.
However, although there are many positives to online retailing and trading online, it also increases competition. Businesses not only have to deal with local competition, they also have to compete against international businesses.
eCommerce allows businesses all over the world to introduce competitive pricing and provide greater choices into markets that may have only had a limited amount of choice before – which is great for the new international competitor but not so great for the local business.
With the NBN already rolling out across Australia, businesses should start preparing – not only for the increase in competition, but also for this great technological improvement that can bring so many advantages.
Below are a couple of things you can do to help you leverage the advantages of online and ensure you keep up with the competition.
Introduction of the NBN
What will the NBN really mean for households and businesses in rural Australia? While this opportunity allows companies to compete more effectively it also opens the way for more competitors to enter the market. Here are a few things you can do to start ensuring you are prepared.
- If the internet is one of the avenues you use to deliver your product or service, make sure you investigate how you can leverage the network to update your ordering or delivery options. Leveraging the speed and quality of your internet offering can improve your customer’s experience with your brand which can only be positive.
- Research marketing tactics used by similar companies online and see what might work for you. Online marketing can often be cheaper than other traditional methods.
- Do not just add technology layers to your site just for the sake of it. Changing your business model just because the technology is available without fully understanding the impact can often do more damage than good. Take your time and make any changes based on sound business strategy.
- Keep an eye on the new industries or products that start up as a result of the NBN. Monitoring your potential competition will ensure that you can plan for the challenges that this can bring.
Ensuring your business stays visible
Online visibility is what distinguishes successful internet ventures from failures and underachievers. Even companies that invest thousands of dollars in sophisticated websites struggle to connect with their target audience because they are unaware they even exist.
Here are some methods to help you increase your exposure online:
- Include related keywords
Search engines look at the keywords included in your website copy to assess what your site is about. These keywords need to be included into the page title, meta tags, page description and then repeated two or three times in the copy on the page. By using a range of keywords you should see an increase in traffic from search engines.
- Update your website frequently
Search engines like websites that have fresh content, they do not like out of date or static websites. Each time you add content to your site you improve your ranking in the search engines.
- Use different content In addition to fresh content, search engines will also reward you for how engaging your website is. Offering users a video clip that demonstrates or showcases the benefits of your product or service will result in positive user signals (like time on site) which tell search engines that users value your business’ content.
- Enlist the help of online directories and associations Not all websites can be easily found online. It depends on your website’s search engine optimisation – or SEO, which is the strategic process of making a website more search engine friendly in order to achieve improved organic search rankings. In approximately 50 percent of online searches, people select a company found on the first or second page. So if your company does not appear in the first 10 to 20 results, you have already lost about 50 percent of your potential business. Listing your business with online directories like Fatcow.com.au or associations relevant to your industry can provide additional channels for customers to find your business.
Opportunities to learn about what is happening in agricultural industries around Australia and worldwide as well as the ability to connect with people who can share their knowledge and experience are integral parts of building a business. These opportunities are made more easily available for rural companies via the internet.
Whether it is through online forums where people share their problems and solutions regarding agriculture, farming and horticulture, or through popular social media avenues such as Twitter or Facebook pages, the net opens up the communication lines between people who would never have the chance to connect otherwise.
Although the internet may bring forth competitors from all over the world there is no reason why your business should excel. The internet has created an opportunity for your business to connect with a new target audience – one that you may never have been able to connect with before. Take advantage of this opportunity and prepare your business for both increased competition but also the possibility of increased sales and customer engagement.