The Basics Of Doing Business Online
Why Build An Online Presence?
Nowadays we turn to the internet for all kinds of reasons – be it social engagement, gaming, online shopping however one reasons stands out for business that requires a prominent online presence…. and that is product or service research.
Everyday, in-fact every second of the day, someone is searching a query for a product or service that will solve a problem that exists for them.
Having an adequate online presence will place you in-front of potential customers that stand to benefit from your product or service.
Essentially there are two main ways to performing business online.
- Having a website and social media accounts to promote and engage with customers for traditional store front business’s
- Running a full-time online business where products and/or services are promoted and transacted upon. e.g. E-commerce store or affiliate websites
The huge benefits of an online presence include:
- Global access to your brand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Faster delivery of products and services
- Improved client service through greater flexibility
- increased professionalism showcasing authority within your market
- Cost savings
- Greater opportunity to operate your business form anywhere in the world
An online presence gives your customers greater flexibility as they may prefer to visit your website to find out about your products or services, instead of visiting you in store.
Online Business Opportunities
Depending on your products or services, there are many ways to manage an online business.
Some examples of how you might utilise the internet for business are:
- A virtual digital shopfront for local, national and international customers to bricks and mortar business’s
- Affiliate marketing
- Operating an online shop (E-commerce store)
- Digital marketing such as content and email marketing
- Social media engagement
- Offer services online
- Online reservations or appointments
- Manage supplier networks
- Product and market research
- Competitor analysis
The Future Of Online Business
Keep in mind that the internet moves at ridiculous speeds in how it evolves and the huge variety of online tools keep changing the landscape of the entire digital market.
Its a good idea plan your online business and think about how you are going to best serve your potential customers.
By researching your competitors and other business that use online tools, you can decide what aspects of online business will benefit you.
Consider your requirements, including operating systems, software and other tools to assist in growth and sustainability
Be realistic about the time and budgets required to effectively manage an online business.
Setting up an online shop today couldn’t be any easier.
With platforms such as WordPress that have plugins to enable eCommerce shopping carts, you have the world at your feet, should you decide to take action of course.
It can be very profitable in the right market and a very useful and rewarding way to do business online.
Obviously it allows you to be in business without the hassles and commitment to a traditional brick and mortar business, and delivers flexibility to your customers because they can purchase from your store any-time on any given day.
Selling online also provides the advantageous of reaching customers broadly by offering deliveries to interstate and overseas customers.
So why do we shop online?
Here are a few reason people are turning to online for shopping instead of traditional:
- No crowds or waiting inline to be served or assisted
- Less pressure to purchase on the spot. eCommerce carts allow for shopping over periods of days
- Research for the best deals and buy directly from that source
- Shop anytime, anywhere
- Generally saves on valuable time spent travelling to traditional stores
The benefits of creating an eCommerce store
Here are a few things an eCommerce store can provide you:
- Attracting people can be a whole lot easier than persuading someone into a traditional shopfont store. An online store makes sales just a few simple clicks away.
- Builds a perfect global brand image
- Reach a global audience
- Sales can be generated without the requirement of staff
- Affordable – After your site is designed, setup and hosted, there are minimal ongoing costs
Setting up your online store
Researching other websites in your target market will provide you with inspiration for your website layout and design.
Planning how your website will look can save precious time and assist to build an audience whilst converting into sales.
There are many options available when setting up an online store. Web packages will usually suit most.
WordPress provides an easy to use dashboard with thousands of plugin (free and paid) that will turn a basic webpage into a powerhouse eCommerce store.
Tutorials are available, that instruct you on how to build an eCommerce store and where to begin – even if you have the most basic level of technical skills.
A typical eCommerce store should however include the basics:
- A product list (website categories)
- A tool or plugin for selecting the products to purchase (Shopping cart)
- A ordering and payment gateway (Paypal)
Further disclaimers should be included that clearly state information regarding ordering and shipping conditions.
Furthermore policies that detail refunds, warranties, returns privacy and security will provide a better and safer customer experience.
Providing Services Online
Online business can be performed within a services based industry.
Offering services online provides opportunities to reach a greater audience and help to grow and succeed in an overcrowded marketplace.
Having an online presence whilst providing services is a great way to showcase your business.
For example, if you operate a restaurant, you can place your menu on your website.
Potential customers can learn what to expect should they visit your business. Presenting the services you provide on your website builds brand recognition and appeal.
It will be vital to think about your services and how you can engage and interact with your audience via your website
Further examples of online services include:
Online education is fast becoming the education platform of the future.
More and more courses are now offered online, allowing business’s to sell their products to anyone in the world.
The biggest advantage is these courses can be taken at a time convenient to the customer.
Reservations and appointments can be managed online.
Small service providers such as hairdressers can allow customers to make appointments online.
These type of systems work with online database’s to reduce scheduling issues.
Business’s such as gym, clubs and editorials can offer customers the choice of managing their memberships subscriptions online.
Changes to personal details, membership packages, schedules and bookings are all items customers can take advantage of.
Promoting Your Business Online
The quite obvious reason for having a business website or selling online is it has the potential to reach a far greater audience.
The internet is huge and used by millions looking for something, and that may be a product or service delivered by you!
Keeping your website fresh with up-to-date content will attract and encourage new and returning visitors, making potential for greater sales.
People will link to your website, giving a virtual vote for your product or service to the search engines.
Your business and brand will receive further recognition and organically grow.
With current levels of social media engagement, it is quite possible for your business product or service to go viral.
Clever use of social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, StumbleUpon etc can yield massive activity and growth to your business.