The saying, “it’s a small world” has never been more appropriate as it has in the 21st century. The internet has broken down barriers and borders, and made interaction between all the corners of the earth possible. It has turned the planet into a much smaller place, one in which someone in the UK can instantly strike up a conversation with a person in Australia without any hassle. In the process, it has also opened up a whole host of new opportunities for businesses to widen their scopes massively. Now, going digital is imperative for businesses, and the companies that fail to do so are getting left behind.

Land-Based Companies that have Successfully gone Digital

There are some cases of massive land-based companies that have moved a lot of their operations online and enjoyed great success. If Argos had stood still and continued to be a high street retail chain, it would have probably followed in the footsteps of companies like Woolworths and faded into nothingness. Instead, though, the British retailer founded by Richard Tompkins in 1972 has undergone a digital reincarnation and adapted to the changing tides of consumer markets. Some of the modifications include swapping the laminated catalogues of old for tablets and using fast-track queues for people who have ordered online.

Newspapers such as the Guardian have also adapted well to the digital age, and now its mobile offerings are bringing in more revenue than its print additions. The Guardian Media Group, which also owns the Observer, reported digital revenues of £108.6 million last year, with £107.5 million earned from print and events. The news site uses clever SEO techniques and focused advertising to boost its revenue.

Other examples of well-known land-based companies embracing the digital age include IKEA, which turned to e-commerce after seeing a dip in visitors to their brick-and-mortar outlets, and Tesco, which now understands that large stores are not always necessary in some areas.

Going Digital Enables Companies to Offer so Much More

One of the primary benefits of going digital is the fact that a company can massively increase its target audience and reach so many more people. But there are also numerous other advantages, such as what businesses are able to offer their customers.

Free trials and welcome bonuses have become a major selling point for online businesses. These kinds of promotion fit with the freemium model of marketing, which has been so successful in the internet era. Sites like Netflix and Spotify offer a one month free trial to new customers, which effectively gives users a chance to get hooked on the product and often leads them to make a purchase. It is also a good way to get to know what the sites have to offer, and it means that customers know exactly what they are going to be getting. Online casinos offer a similar way for players to test the website, usually with deposit match bonuses and free spins on certain games. For instance, Betway Casino offers up to £1000 to new customers, so that they can play the games for free first without risking their own funds. Other companies that offer users a comprehensive taster of what they have to offer are YouTube Premium, HBO Now, and Apple Music.

These promotions have become the norm for online companies, and sites that don’t offer users something free first rarely succeed. In the digital world, it’s easy for companies to keep track of users who are taking part in free trials. When they know that a trial is coming to an end, they can then send emails to the customer to encourage them to begin paying for the service.

Companies that Fail to go Digital get Left Behind

One of the most famous cases of a company getting left behind by the rise of digital businesses is Toys “R” Us, which went bankrupt in the United States and United Kingdom in 2017. The world-renowned company had been the leading player in the toy business for 70 years, but failed to adapt and evolve with the rise of the internet. In the spring of last year, the company founded by the late Charles Lazarus sold all of its 735 locations across the States, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of people with fond childhood memories of the toy store made famous by Geoffrey the Giraffe.

The Toys “R” Us story had a lot of similarities with another past retail giant which no longer exists. Blockbuster was once a world-famous video rental service, with international operations in numerous other countries. At its peak in 2004, the business which began in Dallas, Texas employed 84,300 people worldwide, and had 9094 stores in total. By far the most dominant force in the industry, it was hugely shocking when Blockbuster rapidly declined. With the rise of mail order and video on demand services such as Netflix, Blockbuster’s demise was swift. By 2010 when the company filed for bankruptcy it only had 1700 stores left, which were then sold to satellite television provider Dish Network. These two major cases prove that failure to move with the times and adapt to the internet age can bring about devastating consequences.

The contrasting fates of businesses which embraced and adapted to the internet age and those which didn’t highlights the need for all companies to go digital. The online world is growing at a rapid pace, and in the near future, there may not be a need for land-based stores at all.

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