If your business is mainly offline and your only way of trading with customers and clients is in person, you might be starting to feel like you have been left behind. And you could be right – there’s a very good chance that you have in fact been left behind. That’s largely down to the fact that the vast majority of businesses these days now have some form of online presence. Many entrepreneurs have realized that they can increase their revenues by selling online as well as at a physical location as anyone who is on the internet can purchase from them. As a result, their customer base increases vastly.
So, do you think it’s time you moved into the 21st century and started taking advantage of moving your business online? Don’t worry; that doesn’t mean you need to close your shop or office; you’ll be able to have both offline and online forms of your company running alongside each other. But you will need to spend some time focusing on the launch of the online side of your business. Here are a few pointers to follow to ensure that the move from offline to online goes as smoothly as possible.
Come Up With A Plan
You won’t get very far if you don’t plan your move into the online world well. Even though you might think that there isn’t much to plan, it’s still necessary to jot down a few notes and goals on some paper that you can keep reviewing as you go. The majority of your plan will be focused on setting up your new website or improving your current one. But you shouldn’t stop there; it’s also important that you develop a site maintenance plan so that you can refer to it whenever anything goes wrong. You should also cover your marketing campaigns in this plan as well. After all, you might need to increase your marketing efforts to boost exposure for the new online side of your company.
Give Your Website A Makeover
If you already have a website for your business in place, then you might think that you don’t need to do much to set up your online company – but you’d be wrong! If your website hasn’t been touched since you set it up, then it will no doubt be well overdue a makeover. The design will probably be dated now, so this is something that you will need to sort out. It’s also worth checking to see if it has a responsive design so that it can be viewed properly by mobile users. Making all these tweaks not before you launch your online company ensures that you have plenty of time to see to them and that you aren’t rushing around to try to complete them at the last minute.
Add An Ecommerce Platform
Next, you will need to add an ecommerce platform to your website. This is basically the online shop on which your customers can view and purchase your products. If you already have a skilled developer on your team, you could of course try to build your own ecommerce platform. This has many advantages, but the biggest pro has to be that it will have been uniquely designed for your business and products so you can have it exactly how you want it. Don’t worry if you don’t have anyone with killer design skills on your team, though. You could simply hire an ecommerce designer and creator to do it for you. I’m sure that you will be able to find many great freelancers who you could outsource this type of work to.
Choose The Best Payment Method
Once your ecommerce platform is all set up and ready to go, you will need to attach a payment method to it. This is the process that customers use to send their payment to your company. There are many common services you can add to the majority of ecommerce platforms, such as PayPal and Stripe. Each payment processing service will come with its own set of pros and cons that you will need to weigh up when choosing one. It’s generally best to go with a trusted brand that your customers know they can rely on and one that isn’t too expensive when it comes to payment fees. If you use an ecommerce service that creates an online shop for you, you may be restricted to use the payment processing methods that they offer.
Digitize All Your Documents
Of course, running an online shop isn’t the only part of taking your business into the online world. You should also digitize all of your paper documents and contracts so that you have digital versions of them all. This can help you save space when it comes to storage and it should also help you cut down on all your paperwork. Not only that, though, but it ensures the safety and security of your documents if you store them on a cloud platform. You might want to sign up for an intelligent information management when you are in the process of digitizing everything as it can help you with plenty of support. Once your company is fully digitized, you will find that it really helps all of your organization!
Keep One Eye On Your Competitors
Are you already monitoring your competitors and their current business developments? If not, you need to start doing so now that you are moving into the online world with your business. You might want to check out your competitors’ ecommerce sites to see what they do and how they are utilizing the online side of their business. Make sure that you don’t copy their work, but it’s perfectly fine to take some tips and inspiration from them.
Think About How To Deal With Returns
Once you start selling your products online, you will need to start dealing with returns and refunds. After all, your customers aren’t always going to be happy with what they buy from you for various reasons. You just need to figure out how they will send the product back to you and how you will refund them their cash. Most customers expect businesses to accept fee returns when they buy online, so you might need to be prepared to cover the cost of postage. One way to do this is to team up with a courier service. Your customers can then send their returns via this service, as long as you cover the overall cost. If you develop a long-lasting relationship with the courier, you should find that their rates are very reasonable.
Take Advantage Of Social Media
Once your online shop is up and running, you should then start to promote it on all of your business’s social media profiles. That way, more of your customers will find out that you have started to sell your goods online. Once the word gets out, you will start to notice that more of your orders come from further afield. Many businesses find that, without the use of social media, they would have little chance of promoting their online shop to a wider audience.
Be Ready For The Possibility Of Expansion
When you start off, you probably won’t have to store a large amount of stock as you won’t be getting many orders. But it’s a good idea to think about how you will expand when the time is right. For many companies, that means renting a warehouse for extra storage.
Good luck with your move from offline to online!
This post was written in line with my disclosure policy.