Taking your small business online is a great way to grow and expand your business. Many small businesses shy away from this because they see it as a huge task and don’t know where to begin. But do not worry because in this post I will be taking you through the necessary steps needed to take your business online. I will also be explaining each step in detail so that at the end of this video taking your small business online will be as easy as ABC.
Step 1. Get To Know Your Target Customers
A great way to start your online journey is to interact with your already existing customer. Get to know what they like about your business and what changes they will like to see in your business. You can also find out what they don’t like about your business or what gets them frustrated.
With this information, you can start building a profile of your average customers. Outlining how your online business can help solve some of their challenges and frustrations when doing business with you. This same data can help you know how to improve the things you are already doing right so that you leverage on it and increase sales when you finally go online.
Step 2. Check Out Your Business Competition
It is important to note that when your business goes online your business competition will change radically. This is because you are no longer competing in your local area alone but now a global competitor. However, this new change is nothing to worry about because your first sales or deal will likely come from an old customer.
A way to tackle your online competition is to figure out the main businesses in your nitch. Make a list of these businesses, and streamline the list to the ones that offer service in your area. Once you have the final list of online businesses, take some time to study each business on this list. Try to understand their weaknesses and strength. Then find ways to leverage their weakness to build a great online brand for your business.
It is important to note that you can not compete head-on with large corporations when starting as a small business. But you can find those little details that will make your business a better choice for customers. For example, if you wish to run an eCommerce website, giving out a discount on weekends is great. This will make more people buy from your online store at weekends than buying from your competitors. There are so many ways you can outsmart your competition, you just need to figure out what works best for your business.
Another way to stay ahead of your competitors is to spend some time on your competitor’s website and social media. This will give you some insight into what their customers respond to, and figure out how you can do better.
Step 3: Make A Plan For Your Online Order Fulfilment
A great order fulfillment plan is very important for any online business. This is because not having a swift fulfillment strategy will ultimately lead to online business failure. Again using an e-commerce store as an example, If you wish to run an e-commerce store, then to set up a great order fulfillment plan you must first ask yourself the following question.
- How will you ship your product?
- In what ways will you manage inventory?
- How will you handle returns?
If you are all ready running an offline business chances are that you have the solutions to these questions already. You just need to expand or improve your current plan to include your online business.
So I will focus on the most tricky one which is “how to handle returns”. A lot of small businesses shy away from accepting returns. But being able to accept returns is very important to creating a good customer experience. The trick here is to make sure that your return policy favors the customer. This will make them trust your online business and also make them buy more. Because if anything is not right, they can always return it.
It is now left to you to make sure that everything is right by ensuring the product sizes are correct, the product image is correct, and most importantly that you are shipping the right product to the customer. Although doing this will not stop returns completely, but it will ultimately increase your sales and may minimize your returns to less than 1 percent of your total sales.
Another way to handle returns is to offer “free store credit for all returns”, this way instead of paying back the money for the returned items, your offer customers store credits that they can use to buy any item they want from your store. This way the customer is happy and your business will not lose so much too.
After you have made plans for your order fulfillment, make sure that your shipping method and return policy are listed clearly on your website and are easily accessible from any page on your website.
Step 4: Get A Profesional Website
The first step to getting a professional website is to get a domain name. When getting a domain name, there are two methods that can be used to get a catchy and attractive domain name for your website. They are:
1. Keyword Method
The keyword method simply involves looking for a domain name that is rich in a keyword that is related to your business. Let’s look at an example for more clarification. If you want to put up a website for people that are looking for office space, a domain name option to this may be www.officespace.com you can see that the domain is very catchy and it is connected to the business which is very important.
2. Brand Name Method
This method involves using your brand name or business name for your website. This method is very easy to search for availability, but it may be a little difficult to promote because it is not connected to a niche. examples are Jumia.com. konga.com and www.google.com etc. When getting a domain name, please ensure you buy from a well-trusted domain seller. My favorite is Godaddy and HostGator
You can get a very good premium domain at Hostinger.com. I recommend Hostinger because I have used it and their service is great and they have all the hosting tools you need to grow your business online.
Please note that a long loading time will ultimately hot your conversions. So do check your site speed regularly to ensure it loads fast. You can use tools like “Google Page Speed Insight” to see how fast your website loads and make the recommended changes to speed up the loading time.
Another important part of setting up your website is to include a reliable and secure payment gateway. So that customers can securely check out of your website with minimum effort.
If you are on a budget and don’t have enough resources to engage a web developer, then I will recommend Shopify to you. On the Shopify platform, you can get a domain name and choose your website look from their list of templates. It is easy customization, and most importantly they have a long list of reliable and secure payment gateway you can choose from depending on your country and you can also integrate any payment platform of your choice.
Step 5: Market Your Website
If you already own an offline store, then the best way to start your marketing is to tell your customer when they come to your store that you now also offer online services. You can also make little flyers that have the details of your website and the services that your business offers. Give them to your customers when they are leaving your store encouraging them to check out your online store. Remember you are competing with a large online market so you must consider any form of marketing as valuable no matter how little the impact may be.
The next way to promote your website is through paid advertising on search engines and social media. It is a very fast and reliable way to drive traffic to your website. However, I will advise you to start with a small budget and increase it as you find out what advertising method and keywords work best for your website.
Another key part of promoting your business online is through Search Engine Optimisation. SEO can be challenging, so I will advise you to get the services of an SEO consultant. A good consultant can help you rank high on search results. A good place where you can engage a professional SEO consultant at a very low price is on Fiverr. You can click here to link to a page where you will get a professional SEO consultant to engage with your online promotion.
Finally, invest some time into growing your social media account. You can focus on those that are more relevant to your business. Ensure you post content regularly, and encourage people to like and share your content.
Conclusion On How To Take Your Small Business Online
If you follow all the steps outlined in this video, in no time your business will not only grow but will also be a force to reckon with online.
Thank you for reading this post. If you want to read more posts from me on how to grow your business online, please go ahead and follow me. I post almost daily on My Blog and Medium and weekly on Youtube. I’m on @buymeacoffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts there as well using this link. https://www.buymeacoffee.com/felixagbata
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