Moving your business online is a no-brainer in the current era of digitalization. A BigCommerce survey revealed 96% of Americans shop online. They also spend an average of five hours per week purchasing items online. If you don’t provide customers with an online platform to purchase your products, you’re likely missing out on a lot of exposure and sales.
Your business will have access to more customers and increase your visibility in the marketplace when you have an online presence. This makes you more competitive. There are many benefits to moving your offline business online. However, it may be overwhelming to start from the beginning. Here are six factors to consider.
Carry Out an Audit of Your Existing Business
Before taking your offline business online, thoroughly review your current operations and brand. While doing this, you should take stock of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By looking at what works in terms of the products and services your brand offers, you’ll be able to look at ways to replicate these online.
To scale your business online, understand where your current areas of operational weakness lie. It’s a mistake to carry issues across to the new elements of your business.
Is your current brand image positive? When you relaunch your business online, it could be a good opportunity to rebrand. This means refreshing your logo, revamping your website, landing pages, and online forms. You could also review the core principles of your mission statement and evaluate to be perceived by customers.
Think About What Type of Online Customer You Want
Your online customer may be different customer from those you have in your brick-and-mortar business. Are you trying to hit a new target demographic in the digital realm? If that’s the case, think about who these people are, what they want, and how your business is going to deliver to those needs.
Create a model customer for your brand. Do market research about the way this type of customer shops, as well as the types of products and services they’re attracted to.
Decide on the Products and Services You’re Going to Offer
Many businesses that expand online feature everything offered offline in the online space also. There are, however, plenty of companies for which this isn’t the case.
You may want to focus your attention on a specific set of products or services. With any product or service that becomes the focus of your online business, ask yourself why you chose it. It may be a good idea to conduct market research to see whether those products and/or services are likely to be successful.
There may be costs to develop new services that will operate online; for example, you may need to invest in the development of a platform through which the service may be delivered. Understand how likely it is your customers will want to make use of these services before you put too much money behind the concepts.
Invest in Website Design
Decide what your customer’s experience should be when they visit your website. Think about brands whose sites appeal to you, and think about the elements that are important to you on your website. Then, speak to web designers about your project. Ask to see examples of their previous work and read as many testimonials and reviews as possible.
It may be tempting to hire the first designer that you find or the one that offers the best price. However, it’s best to work with a website developer that understands exactly what you need, and will help you achieve it. Communicate with your designer throughout the process of creating your site. Ask lots of questions and make sure you understand everything they say to you. Where you don’t understand something, ask clarifying questions.
Select an Online Payment System
If you’re going to make products available for customers to buy online, you must also set up a way for them to pay online. The payment system you choose for your e-commerce businesses is very important; it will allow you to better serve your customers with convenient payment options. If you are unsure of how to select the best way to accept credit card payments on your site, check out this article to help direct you to a method that works for your needs.
If customers feel like your payment method doesn’t appear safe, if the payment process is too long, or users are unfamiliar with your payment gateway, they may choose to shop elsewhere. Therefore, when adding a payment gateway, select the right payment flow for your business and customers. You can do this through re-directing customers to a secure, hosted payment page, or having an integrated payment form. Integrated payment forms create a better customer experience and can automate the payment process for you and creates greater efficiency. One such form builder, Paperfrom can generate custom PDF invoices automatically after a purchase is made through its forms. It also integrates with Stripe, Paypal Business, Square, and Braintree to easily and safely accept payments.
Create a Marketing Plan
As your business ventures into uncharted waters, work to attract customers to your new website. Think about creating mailing lists, setting up email automation, social media profiles, and investing in search engine optimization. While you may be able to bring across many of your offline customers, the best way of attracting new ones will be through organic searches.
It is entirely possible for a company to manage its own search engine optimization. However, if your business is quite small, has a limited IT department, and lacks the skills to make an effective job of optimization, it may be better to outsource this task. There are many great SEO tools that can help you optimize your website.
Similarly, it takes a great deal of time and effort to run social media campaigns that will drive a considerable amount of traffic to your website. Use a digital marketing company that specializes in these tactics if budgets allow it. If you prefer to do it yourself, there are a few guidelines to follow to achieve maximum results. Always create content. If you fail to share relevant, exciting content with customers, you will fail to engage with consumers. Having a prominent social media presence will boost brand recognition, brand loyalty, and your business’ reputation.
Creating an online presence is a great marketing move. In addition to increasing your visibility and accessing a larger customer base, being online offers easier access to customers. Your business is open 24/7 for the late-night online shopping bingers. It requires time and resources to get the e-commerce ball rolling, but the basic steps outlined should get you moving in the right direction towards a digital business model.
Author Bio: Tegan is a Digital Marketer at Paperform, an online form builder. She undertakes SEO strategies to drive demand and growth, and has a passion for content writing for blogs.