I recently wanted to purchase something from a local shop. Before deciding to visit the shop in person, I wanted to know more about the products they sold. So I searched for their website.

When I went to the product information page on their website I saw these words:

Return soon for information

I couldn’t believe it.

The product page is one of the most important web pages for a small business, and having strong website sales copy is critical. The product page website copy can convince customers to buy or to visit their shop, but for this website there was no information.

Customers won’t randomly check back to find out when the business owner has had a chance to put information on their site. If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for on a website, they can quickly and easily check others.

This means a lost sale for small businesses who don’t make the website copy a priority.

I don’t want to sound down on small businesses, as that’s not my intention. Small business owners have a lot they need to do, but their website can’t be an afterthought. “I’ll get round to it, eventually” won’t work when there’s so much competition out there.

Technology has made it easier for small businesses to create professional looking sites at a fraction of what it used to cost. And there are sites (ahem) where you can get help writing sales copy for your website to make it stand out and get customer attention.

Often the expectations for small business websites are low, but should they be? With sites like Shopify and a wide range of ecommerce plug-ins for WordPress to choose from, creating an ecommerce site is well within reach of local shop owners.

If small businesses aren’t ready to take the plunge into ecommerce, then at the very least customers should be able to expect all the basic information they’d need. At minimum location, hours of operation, product details, and contact information.

Clever small businesses are starting to use social media, which is great to see, and even better are ones taking the plunge into content marketing.

The time is now for small businesses to take advantage of the technologies which have made it easy for them to build their web presence and compete with larger businesses in their area.

There is no reason to ask customers to “return soon for information”, so small business owners, please avoid this mistake in your website copy.

This post originally appeared on the Copy Dojo website.