Although most entrepreneurs think of their Web sites as vehicles for getting new customers-from far corners of the world, no less-many end up neglecting a market with even greater potential: the one right around the corner. After all, local customers live and shop near your business. Why not reach out to them, too?
At least the trend is starting to catch on. According to the "Local Commerce Monitor," a survey of businesses in Princeton, New Jersey, conducted by Constat Inc. and The Kelsey Group, entrepreneurs who said the Internet would help their businesses compete on a larger geographic scale dropped considerably between 1999 and 2000.
of Web shoppers in the Middle East/Africa will buy from foreign sites, compared to just 39 percent in Eastern Europe.
"Businesses are realizing they don't want to compete globally," explains Neal Polachek, a consultant and senior vice president of research for The Kelsey Group. "They want to be more effective and more efficient competing where they've always competed, which is locally." In fact, the survey also points out that 80 percent of small businesses do at least 75 percent of their business locally (within 50 miles of their businesses)-whether it's selling directly to customers or buying products and services their companies need.