If you run an independent high street business – whether a fashion store, a hair salon or anything else, the internet can be your friend, helping to attract more people into the store and boost sales – both in store and online.

What’s more, with a little thought and a clear focus, doing the basics right can be relatively quick and inexpensive – you can use these five online tricks to get your online strategy up and running:

1. Go Mobile: Build a Website that Works on Mobile Devices

According to Google[i] around 70% of consumers agree that they are more likely to buy from a business that has a website over one that does not. So, if you already have a website, you’re ahead of the game and, if you don’t, it may be time to get online.

These days, however, it is increasingly likely that shoppers will visit your website from a mobile device – more than half of online shoppers already buy by mobile[ii].

That means having a mobile-friendly or ‘responsive’ website is vital. But don’t be put off; creating and maintaining a mobile-friendly website does not have to be expensive. Using services like wix.com, shopify.com or other suitable providers means you can quite easily build a mobile-ready, ecommerce website for as little as £13 per month[iii] .

2. From Online to Store: Add Click and Collect

There are a number of ways to do that, from using your website to advertise in store promotions and offers to advertising high demand products that are only available in store. But perhaps the easiest way is to add a ‘click and collect’ or ’collect in store’ delivery option. Both wix.com and shopify.com offer ‘collect in store’ options, which can be added to your site very easily – and when people come in to collect their purchases, you have the chance to build a personal rapport with them and a second chance to sell.

3. Be Local. Capitalise on the Local Search Trend

Recent research found that 46% of Google searchers were looking for local information and that 72% of consumers completing a local search visited a store within five miles [iv]. What’s more, SEO Tribunal reports that 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else[v].

This is clearly a trend that could benefit high street independents, and one that can be capitalised on at very low cost. Simple steps to make the most of local searches include:

  • Keywords[vi] are essentially used to make it easier for people to find your website via search engines like Google, and should be included in areas like your website’s content and web address (i.e. URL). So, if you run a ladies’ fashion shop in Bolton, your basic local keyword is pretty obvious – ‘Ladies fashion in Bolton’. For more sophisticated local keywords, you can use Google’s free Keyword Planner.
  • Add a location page to your website: It should include opening hours, contact and address details, a short description of your business, testimonials, promotions, parking availability, and a Google Map of your location.
  • Use local online directories: Make sure your business is listed, with up to date information, on directories like Yelp and Yellow Pages.
  • Optimise your Google My Business account: An optimised account is imperative for local search. It’s completely free and means your business will appear in Google Maps. Be sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information, including your logo, opening hours, acceptable payment methods, the product or service you sell and plenty of images.

4. Get Social. Use Social Media to Build Awareness and a Community of Shoppers

Social media can also be a great way to build awareness and showcase your business. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms via which to reach a lot of potential customers easily, cheaply and regularly, for instance by sharing useful content like hints and tips, as well as more sales orientated content like promotions, sales event details and information on new lines – ideally including engaging photos in your posts. You can find more information on social media marketing for small businesses here.

It’s even possible to create a community of shoppers around your business to help spread the word. Encourage people to ‘follow’ your business on social media and then regularly reply to posts, comments and questions.

5. Reach Out. Use Email Marketing to Promote Your Business

Email marketing is a another way to tempt existing customers back into the store, though you have to be aware of the law [vii] around storage and use of personal data for promotions, sales, season offers, new lines and so on. Clearly, you first have to build up a list of people, and their email addresses and secure their permission to contact them via email in future. But, with that list in place, you can quickly and easily use low cost email marketing platforms to contact your entire list with details of promotions and sales event, and information on new lines.

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways to use the internet to boost business, whether selling online, using the internet to attract more people into the store, or both. But these five tips offer a great, low cost starting point and a solid base to start from, so get cracking today.

Georgina Rayner

Georgina is a search marketing specialist currently working on behalf of a number of insurance brands including, bespoke, off-the-shelf, small business insurance provider smei. Georgina has over ten years of experience working with a host of brands to delivering search marketing and wider digital marketing campaigns that are underpinned by thorough data analysis and deliver measurable return on investment.


[i] https://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/business/website-builder/

[ii] https://internetretailing.net/mobile-theme/mobile-theme/uk-mobile-spend-set-to-double-to-332bn-in-the-next-five-years-globaldata-19624

[iii] https://www.wix.com/upgrade/website

[iv] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/local-seo-stats

[v] https://engeniusweb.com/articles/google-my-business-guide/

[vi] https://help.shopify.com/en/manual/promoting-marketing/seo/adding-keywords

[vii] https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/

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