Benefits of email and the internet

Using the internet for business

Guide

If you plan to use the internet for business purposes, there are some key issues to consider. Your choices will affect how you exploit the opportunities available and how your customers interact with you.

Connecting your business to the internet

Dial-up internet is no longer available from major telecom suppliers. Most businesses nowadays choose a broadband internet connection delivered through their phone line (either standard or superfast fibre) or mobile (available from mobile phone network). See more on choosing a business broadband connection and mobile technology.

Using the internet for business purposes

Businesses generally use the internet for a number of reasons, including to:

  • research competitors
  • buy or sell products or services
  • monitor and measure customer interest
  • find new customers
  • promote their business online

Most modern-day businesses would struggle to operate, advertise or communicate with their customers without the use of the internet.

Do you need a website for your business?

Many businesses benefit from having at least a basic website that offers contact details, location, products and services, prices or rates, etc. However, not all businesses necessarily need a website. Think carefully about your objectives. Typical reasons to have a website include:

  • building brand awareness
  • reducing costs
  • selling your products and services
  • improving customer support
  • showcasing work

Consider what customers will want from your site, how you can attract them and encourage them to return. Think about how you can use your website to create an online community around your product or service. Find out how to set up a small business website.

If you decide to have a website, you should choose your web hosting solution carefully. Most businesses use an internet service provider (ISP) or a third-party host. See how to choose an ISP for your business or read about other website hosting options.

Disadvantages of using the internet for business

Although there are many advantages of using internet in business, there are some potential pitfalls to keep in mind. For example:

  • consumers may be wary of buying products or services online
  • communication between you and your customer may feel impersonal
  • competition may copy your ideas or online success
  • conducting business on the internet is subject to several laws

See more on common e-commerce pitfalls and selling online: consumer contracts.