By Chris Simpson of Business Link

The internet is playing an increasingly important role in the way in which products and services are purchased. For any business, the internet is an excellent way to interact with potential and existing customers.

key tool for doing business online is through a company website. It is essential at the planning stage to identify what is the purpose of the site? There are a number of reasons why businesses develop websites which include: building brand awareness, selling products and to provide improved customer support.

It is important that your website is designed and hosted to suit your individual business needs and key considerations involve functionality, performance and reliability. The website will act as the face of your company so it should be fast, professional, reliable and easy for customers to navigate around.

Prior to your company website going live, it would be beneficial for you to define what you hope the site will achieve so that you can review its success on a regular basis.

A list of questions you may want to ask yourself whilst doing business online may include: What is the number of hits you are trying to achieve? How many sales leads are you hoping to generate? And what percentage reduction in customer telephone calls are you expecting to achieve?

If you are planning to take advantage of e-commerce and sell your products or services online you may need to rethink many of your business activities prior to starting up your website. Doing business online will change the way in which you interact with your customers. For example, every aspect of the transaction process must be considered, from how orders are handled, confirmed and paid for to deliveries and returns if a customer is not satisfied with their order.

Pre-sales is an important aspect of doing business online and you should take advantage of the widespread use of the internet to raise awareness of your products and services. With so many companies online email campaigns, search engine optimisation and online advertising will allow new visitors, and potential customers, to find your company website. Business Link’s team of expert advisers can offer advice and expertise in developing an effective online marketing campaign.

For further information on developing a website and doing business online, please visit the IT and e-commerce section of the Business Link website

Business Link has a team of expert advisers who offer advice, help and information to individuals and companies across the region, giving them access to the ‘business brains’ who will help to get their business idea off the ground, or grow their existing company. For further information about Business Link visit or call 0845 600 9 006.