GREENSBURG -- Small businesses must embrace modern technology and attract customers through Facebook, Twitter and other social media if they want to succeed in today’s changed business environment, according to a retail expert who visited Greensburg Friday.
Marc Willson, retail and restaurant industry consultant for the Virginia Small Business Development Center, said that small businesses also must adapt to changing needs of customers, by, for example, staying open later to accommodate today’s families. In most families, both spouses work, Willson said, which means they do not have time to shop at a local store before 5 p.m. Instead, they go to big box retailers, which tend to be open around the clock.
“Get found and be open,” Willson proclaimed as his mantra.
If businesses take just one thing from the seminar, Willson said, they should move their business day by two hours and open at 10 a.m. instead of 8 a.m., and close at 7 p.m. instead of 5 p.m., because about 70 percent of in-store spending occurs after 5 p.m. and on weekends.
Willson visited Greensburg Friday to present a seminar on “Staying relevant to a changed customer,” which was hosted by the Greensburg/Decatur County Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Greensburg and the Southeast Indiana Business Development Center. Willson’s retail experience includes work for Earth shoe, the book selling industry and Circuit City. He also owns consulting firm The Willson Co.
Willson listed four steps for businesses to enter the digital era:
1. Create a website. Businesses can do this themselves or have one created for them at relatively low cost. A website is critical, Willson said, because nine of 10 customers will find the business on the Internet before they set foot in it. Websites should display a photo (or short video) on the homepage, while subsequent pages should include information about the business and its owners. Willson suggested that long-established businesses highlight their longevity because it indicates trust. The website also should include a photo and some personal information to create a better connection with customers, Willson said.