Having just written about the need to keep your technology current and up-to-date, we’ve noticed the Digital Manitoba Initiative, which was coincidentally announced while the previous post was being written. The Digital Manitoba Initiative is a $15 Billion fund being administered through the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce to provide grants of up to $5,000 or up to $25,000 for projects that small businesses can complete in 30 or 90 days, respectively. (Press Release) You do not need to be a chamber member to apply for funding, which is described in two tiers as follows:
TechUP digital adoption investment of up to $5,000 for fundamental digital tools, which could include a range of assets and/or applications, such as, supporting marketing and promotional activities, website development/enhancement, e-commerce capabilities, accounting, events or project management software PowerUP digital strategy funding of up to $25,000 to evolve business models, processes and operations, improve client/customer experience and increase productivity.
Both of these funding tiers can be applicable to helping you increase the effectiveness of your website for your business.
TechUP ($5k) specifically includes marketing and promotion and website development, and would be available to redevelop your website, replatform it to more current technical architecture, or enhance it to better meet your business goals, whether those are marketing-oriented or specifically focused on adding online sales capabilities to your website. Within this budget, we have been able to assist clients in rebuilding their website so it becomes easily manageable and updateable in-house. For other clients within this budget, we have added robust ecommerce functionality where they can add and manage their own storefronts with curbside pickup or automatically calculated shipping rates.
PowerUp ($25k) is slightly narrower in its focus, intended to help scale your business by refining business processes, improving customer experiences, and increasing productivity. All of these can be accomplished in part through new strategies for your website. At first glance, this may not be obvious, but we are experienced in analyzing how technology (especially online) can be leveraged to streamline business processes. One example is with a business who took telephone orders, manually quoted prices, and wrote up a work order for delivery. We streamlined all of that to take place on the website, so not only did a staff member not get caught on the phone for hours, the website took a downpayment and produced a pdf work order in the page layout they already used for production.
What Can the Web Do For You?
A basic website is simply about providing information, like an online brochure. A site of this nature can be developed economically, but the better ones invest a bit more time considering the business’ brand and its message along with the design and content of the site. The goal of this type of site is usually marketing-focused.
In most cases, website visitors today have come to expect more from a site than basic marketing information. They may still be looking for information, but after-sales materials like documentation or user manuals.
Three years ago we didn’t think there was much reason to buy groceries online, but users now want to order online even from local businesses, many of whom may find that in a post-pandemic world, their customers have discovered they enjoy the convenience of curbside pickup. Shopping cart systems can also be set up to offer wholesale pricing to select customers, to take bulk orders in advance, or to manage inventory from one or more locations.
Travellers expect to book hotel rooms B&B stays, or campsites online. Restaurant meals are no different, as site visitors expect to easily view a menu on their phone and place an order online. Online learning environments are being used not just for school students, but also for professional development or personal interests. Associations of all kinds are providing member services of all kinds through their websites, as are subscription sites that handle recurring billing of their customers, with the website directly providing the services being sold.
Websites like these are just the tip of the iceberg for the types of functionality we can achieve and offer to customers, members, or prospective clients online. Websites don’t need to be silos within a business, either — they can be integrated with inventory, point-of-sale, and accounting systems to alleviate errors (and labour) in updating these systems with information from one to another. As in the example above, output from a website can be channelled directly into existing workflows for delivery in a manner that streamlines a process without changing what already works well.
We’ve been doing a lot of website updates, upgrades, and rebuilds lately, and we’ve found that websites can often do a lot more for people’s businesses than they realise.