Many small and medium sized businesses don’t even consider the option of using a Content Management System (CMS) to help them manage the day-to-day operation of their company, as they think it unnecessary. However, these days, CMSs have a lot to offer small businesses and due to the way technology has raced ahead recently, it’s more cost effective than ever.
As more and more bricks and mortar-based retailers make the shift to doing business online, it’s especially important to ensure that they have the right tools to help this come about. Of course, it is possible to manage an ecommerce website manually, but this method is time consuming and often, counterproductive.
If you take online credit card payments, then not only could a CMS save you time, it can also keep you within the law as to how customer data is stored, perform automatic stock control, manage social networking and much more.
A CMS can be all the difference between how well you compete with others in your industry. Whilst there are plenty of options available should you want to build and maintain your own website, this is not recommended if you want your business to grow.
Why? Because the complexity of running a site manually are many and therefore the pitfalls are numerous. In theory, you can have a card machine or software at home, you take an order via email or a form on your website which provides you with the credit card data and you process manually, doing away with the details as soon as the order is completed.
However, in practice this has a few problems, the most obvious being that of how the information is transmitted. Most people are wise to what a secure connection is when purchasing from the web now, but are you? It’s vital to ensure you’re working within the law or you could come in for a nasty surprise fine.
In addition to this, let’s look at managing a site manually and implementing a decent CMS. If you’re going to make increasingly more sales online, then think about the following:
- Time: this has to be the biggest area in which you will be hampered if you don’t employ a CMS. Whilst of course you can take on more staff, is that really the most cost-effective solution for your business?
How a CMS can overcome this: your website and all of your workflows will be automated, cutting down the time needed for you to carry out stock control, website updates, order processing, social media management, accounting and more. The time spent on administration for you and your staff can be reduced significantly by investing in a CMS, especially one that is adapted to suit your business specifically.
- SEO: one of the most important aspects to doing business online is getting found. The past year has been a big shake-up for SEO companies, thanks to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, which penalise sites that don’t offer ‘valuable content’ to consumers.
A CMS can help as it makes SEO and the creation of content much easier and automatically adds elements that will help your site climb the search rankings. This is vital in today’s online marketplace as there are millions of websites available which may offer competition.
It’s equally important now that your site is updated frequently, in order to remain in a good position in search, and this can be achieved by blogs, news posts, special offers and so on. Of course, this all takes time, so a CMS can cut this time by automatically laying out content and adding to it. Social media is also important to your online marketing efforts these days and having social sharing buttons on your site is imperative to its success. This is because Google will look at how much your content is being shared in order to ascertain how valuable it is.
If you have lots of differing content on numerous platforms, then Google will feel your site is more valuable than a static webpage. Posts of any nature should be mixed up so that Google doesn’t see any ‘pattern’ to it, so ensure that posts are different lengths and have various elements including photos, videos, audio and text.
- Compliance can be a tricky area and one that businesses of all sizes worry extensively about. It’s necessary that your site falls within the law and remains that way.
A CMS automates this and produces reports, carries out audits and so forth, so that you can feel safe in the knowledge that it’s taken care of. This is perhaps the most important aspect of your online business, as it can be a great idea, with great products that are selling well, but if it’s unlawfully taking online payments, or you’re not keeping data in accordance with data protection and privacy laws, then you could be in hot water.
If you consider that in 2012 each consumer in Australia spent $2108 on ecommerce, then you begin to see the opportunity that putting your business online presents. In order to do this effectively, a good CMS is necessary in order to promote and maintain growth.
Technology used to offer the SMB little, as before now, many simply couldn’t afford to use the same solutions as large enterprisers and retail corporations did. However, that’s now changed and software such as CMS, alongside better, more stable internet connections and solutions which are cloud-based, mean that smaller companies now have the same opportunities as the big boys.
In order to make the most out of this though, it’s necessary to use it. CMS can be implemented at a relatively low cost and is often paid for on a monthly basis, doing away with the need for a huge amount of capital to be spent on office networks. Additionally, the potential ROI is significant, taking into account time-saving and automation.
For the small and medium business who wants to compete online, some form of CMS is invaluable and those who continue to run a site manually will always struggle to keep up.
* SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) - Definitions of what constitutes an SME differ per country. In Australia an SME is usually deemed to employ less than 200 full time staff and generate less than $50M in revenue per annum. In the United States an SME is usually defined as having less than 500 full time staff.
The following infographic (source) highlights the opportunity: Online sales in Australia is predicted to be worth a whopping $37.1 Billion dollars by 2013, showing that more users are becoming more comfortable shopping online.
Infographic by Competitions.com.au