There are huge numbers of people around the world shopping online. Almost everyone in the western world and beyond is connected to the web at nearly all times of the day and night.
Year on year there are more sales completed online than ever before and that number is expected to keep growing for the foreseeable future.
Smartphones send users updates from Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. Users can access the internet from almost anywhere and can buy anything, anytime, anywhere.
The number of online shoppers using mobile devices is also increasing all the time, with more people shopping online from tablets and smartphones than ever before.
A report commissioned by Google in 2010 and carried out by the Boston Consulting Group to show the depth and reach of the Internet in the UK showed that Northern Ireland is behind the rest of the UK in terms of online shopping. It hasn’t changed much over the last couple of years, which means there are opportunities out there for local businesses.
If you own a local business in Northern Ireland and you’re not taking advantage of online advertising, then you’re as good as giving away sales to the competition.
Around 96% of people in the UK shop online, compared with only 66% in Northern Ireland.
So why is Northern Ireland lagging behind the rest of the UK?
One reason is that local retailers have not been investing enough money or time in their online presence.
Unlike the old days, when someone could design a website with very little content, a few well placed keywords and a few pictures and still rank number one in Google there is now more and more competition and it’s growing on a daily basis.
We’ve found that local internet shoppers when searching for goods online, for example “bmw car parts” are being shown websites and advertisements for English, American and other European websites, unless they specifically search for the keywords
Online shoppers in Northern Ireland have another problem when dealing with companies based in England and elsewhere. A lot of them don’t ship to Northern Ireland. Others advertise on TV and online with special offers, which a lot of the time exclude Northern Irish shoppers.
There are four main reasons why local companies don’t show up well in local search results.
- No onsite optimisation
- No advertising
- No social media links, Facebook, etc.
- No website
The point is that if more local shops were selling their goods online, local online shoppers would get a better deal and more local shops would make money.
Local businesses in Northern Ireland tend to still use traditional forms of expensive advertising. For example, one local company advertises in the Autotrader magazine at a cost of £400 per month, with no way of tracking sales that come from this type of advertisement they may as well be money down the drain. They are getting no new visitors to their website and no social engagement, which means their online business presence is stagnant.
In comparison, a rival company who spends around £400 a month in online advertising is seeing an excellent rate of sales growth, with the number visitors to their website increasing on a weekly basis. In effect, they are cornering the local market and it will be more expensive and time consuming for their rivals to catch up with them.