Currently, you operate a business that works offline and offline only. When you started this company, you had no need to go online, as all of your customers encountered you in the physical world. You may have a store that people visit and buy things from, but for whatever reason things aren’t the same as they used to be. You’re still making money, but your company won’t grow. Or, even worse, the money is starting to dry up as fewer people visit your premises.
Consequently, you’re thinking about moving your business online. It’s something you avoided for a long time, thinking that it wasn’t necessary. Now it is, you need to know how the process works. Here are some steps to follow to help you move your business online:
Your domain name is basically the name of your website. It’s a crucial part of moving your business online as it determines where people will go to visit your site. You can buy a domain name online from various providers, but the main concern is that it matches your business name. This makes your website look more professional right away. Avoid adding hyphens or numbers to your domain name and try to secure one with .com if possible.
Next, you can start building a site to fit this domain name. There are two ways you can approach this:
Website builders let you sign up for a service that creates your site for you in seconds. If you are selling things from your site, you will need to set up an eCommerce website. There are countless platforms out there that let you do this, delivering lots of template designs to choose from. It’s all very straightforward; you choose from different templates and the platform creates your site for you.
Working with web designers will be more expensive than using a website building platform, but you can get a completely customised site. You also receive more care and attention, with many web designers offering maintenance services as well. Ultimately, both approaches come with pros and cons, so try to figure out which one will be best for you and your company.
If you already have an in house web designer, you’ll definitely want to be thinking about cybersecurity, especially when customers are buying through your online store. You can read here about the “Essential 8” steps when it comes to cyber security to clue yourself up, but it’s recommended to hire an IT services manager to help protect your website and your business.
Once your website is up and running, you can start listing your products for sale. Again, there are a couple of approaches you can take here. Depending on your business size, you may want to sell all of your products or a selection of them. If you have a small business with limited products, it makes sense to sell them online as you can easily stock them on your website with no issues at all.
However, if you have hundreds of different products to sell, your website might not be able to handle it. You’d have to upgrade it to make it function properly while still holding so many products. This can be too expensive for some, so you have to decide which of your products are worth selling online. A good rule of thumb is to list your most popular products online – or the ones that cost the least money to ship.
Naturally, you need to get your products sent out to your customers. When you’re offline, this isn’t an issue as they come to you. Well, you could give them the option to pick up the product from your store, if you are keeping your physical premises. However, you will need to sort out some form of delivery and shipping service for your customers.
You need to find a service that can get your products to your customers as quickly as possible without being too expensive and all while keeping the products in excellent condition. A simple search for courier services near me will show you all the options in your area. If you are only going to deliver locally, opt for local couriers. If you are selling your stuff around the world, you’ll need international shipping partners. Regardless, be sure that you sort out a delivery and shipping service to get your products to your customers.
You need ways for customers to pay for your products online. Therefore, you have to set up payment systems on your site. A few different ways for people to pay include:
Offering multiple payment options can help your business make more sales as it adds convenience for the customer. Instead of typing in their credit card details, they can click to pay via Apple Pay and end the transaction in seconds. Thankfully, all website building platforms will let you integrate different payments on your site with ease, so this is a simple thing to do. If you’re working with a web designer, they can do this for you without any issues as well.
Lastly, be sure to make a big song and dance about moving your business online. Place posters all over your store so your customers can see that you have a website. If you have customer contact details, use these to send out adverts, emails, or texts explaining that you now have an online store.
General marketing tactics are also required, so focus on boosting your SEO, marketing through social channels, and investing in ads. It could also be smart to have a special discount for first purchases from your website. This can encourage offline customers to come online, and it can also draw in lots of new customers as well.
After all of this, you have now got a small online business. This can operate alongside your offline business if you are still getting money from physical customers coming to your store. Or, if things have dried up, you could make it a permanent switch and close down your physical premises. Ironically, this tends to happen to a lot of businesses; they move online, then realise the benefits of being an online business greatly outweigh having a physical store. So, they shut down the store to save money and focus on online success instead.