Customers want to access information immediately and, once they've made up their minds, to receive products and services as quickly as possible.
April Glaicar is owner of Conrad Realty Ltd. in Hay River. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
For businesses, the sooner the deal is made, the sooner they get paid.
Web sites are becoming a common business tool throughout the NWT, partly due to the advance of Internet technology and the availability of high speed service, partly because of the long distances between communities in the North.
April Glaicar, owner of Conrad Realty Ltd. (www.conradrealty.ca) in Hay River, says the company had a Web site when she bought it in 2000.
The Web site was redesigned in 2004, she said, to include more graphics, information and interactive options, printable full-colour listings, a mortgage calculator and a map to locate properties.
Glaicar says a Web site is essential for a real estate company. "When clients want information, they want it immediately."
She explained that today's consumers have high expectations and they're educated. "You have to keep pace with them."
When the web site was established a half-dozen years ago, Glaicar estimates it cost close to $4,000, while the recent complete redesign cost about $1,500.
A webmaster in Hay River keeps the Web site up to date.
Brad Mapes co-owns two businesses with Web sites -- Wesclean Northern Sales Ltd. (www.wescleannwt.com) and Muddy Waters Enterprises (www.muddywaters.nt.ca).
Web sites have a distinct advantage over other forms of promotion, he says. "Instantly you're looking at product. That's the advantage."
Wesclean has had a Web site for about seven years and it is used mostly as a way to provide information to customers.
However, there will be an online order catalogue added to the site within a couple of months, so customers can place orders directly from the Internet.
Muddy Water Enterprises, which sells promotional items like T-shirts, mugs and pens, already has an online order catalogue on its Web site.
"That works ideally," Mapes says. The Web sites are maintained by a Hay River webmaster at a cost of between $250-$400 a month.
MSS Ltd. (www.mssltd. com) has had a Web site for close to 10 years.
The webmaster is Doug Swallow, co-owner of the safety supply company.
MSS Ltd. has a lot of online sales, Swallow said.
"It's an advantage in that customers get up-to-date service," he says. "When they place their orders, they automatically go into the system."
And, when an item is added to inventory or a price changes, the information is automatically changed on the Web site.