You have a website, and you're even taking orders online. But is that enough in today's digital age to meet the changing demands of your customer base? Not if your online strategy doesn't include a digital strategy, says Philippa Gamse, a professor at Hult International Business School.
Gamse spoke at the PTDA Industry Summit in Orlando last month.
Mobile usage has overtaken desktop usage for website access, Gamse says, which means your customers are now looking for information on their smartphones and tablets. If they can't navigate your site and find the critical information, they won't buy from you.
Having a mobile-friendly site – whether a separate mobile site or simply one that adapts for mobile specification – also makes your company more findable, regardless of the platform customers are using to find you.
"If your website doesn't work on mobile, Google won't show it in the results anymore," Gamse says. And if customers can't find you, they can't buy from you.
But having a mobile strategy does not mean you have to create an application. "Don't just try to be like the cool kids," Gamse says.
There are already several apps competing for time and space on most people's smartphones, but how many of them are actually used on a regular basis? For most people, the answer is two or three, and they are not the apps created by manufacturers or distributors. Most of the time, a mobile-responsive site will be enough to engage with your customers how they want to engage.
The way customers interact with businesses isn't changing; it has changed, Gamse says. To stay relevant, distributors must have a mobile strategy.