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How to Take Your Business Online

COVID-19 ushers in the era of online shopping. Are you making the most of the opportunity to go digital in your business?

Since February 2020, taking your business online has gone from a great idea to an absolute essential. The coronavirus has changed the way the world shops, and your business can benefit from the change by going online. For a traditionally run company, going online may seem daunting. Use our step-by-step guide to smooth over your transition.

Take Your Business Online in 6 Steps

  1. Analyze Your Current State
  2. 🗸 Assess Your Current Business and Brand

  3. Research Everything
  4. 🗸 What are Competitors Charging?
    🗸 Who is Your Online Customer?
    🗸 What is Your Online Product or Service?

  5. Design and Develop Your Website
  6. 🗸 Buy a Domain
    🗸 Choose a Host or Server
    🗸 Build the Actual Site
    🗸 Choose an e-Commerce Platform
    🗸 Set Up Your Shopping Cart and Shipping Options

  7. Develop Your E-Commerce Strategy
  8. 🗸 Choose Your Channels
    🗸 Set Up Your Analytics
    🗸 Employee Roles in an Online Business

  9. Advertise Online
  10. 🗸 Take Advantage of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
    🗸 Create a Presence on Social Media Platforms
    🗸 Partner with Brand Ambassadors and Bloggers

  11. Insure Your Business
  12. 🗸 Make Sure Every Aspect of Your Business is Covered

How to Get Your Business Operating Online

1. Analyze Your Current State

🗸 Assess Your Current Business and Brand

Taking your business online can mean substantial changes for your company. A traditional in-person store or service will have different benefits and challenges than an online business. Before you start the process of taking your business online, it’s an excellent idea to take stock of where you’re at.

Think about your current products and services. Are any exceptionally popular? Those are often good choices to take online. Are there perhaps new products and services that suit your brand, which you could take online? You can take your entire business online, take one product at a time online, or start a new niche of your brand online.

Consider your brand identity. When taking your business online, the ideal opportunity to recreate your image presents itself. Think about redesigning logos, messaging, assets, and your colour palette to attract online customers.

2. Research Everything

🗸 What are Competitors Charging?

The way you price products may differ online than in a retail store. Acquiring and shipping stock may cost more or less, and what clients are willing to pay changes. When deciding on pricing, look at competitor web stores and do some market research on social media platforms.

Remember to consider fees and taxes. You may need to complete legal processes depending on your business type and licensing. It’s important that your business remains within the law, and this means including terms and conditions and a privacy policy on your website.

🗸 Who is Your Online Customer?

Customer behaviour online varies greatly from the foot traffic you may get in a brick-and-mortar shop. Researching your audience to understand their behaviour and needs is especially important. Decide who you want to reach and create a buyer persona that embodies the audience. This persona is a fictitious representation of your ideal shopper and will help you identify audience behaviour, motivation, goals, and personality.

🗸 What is Your Online Product or Service?

When deciding which products or services to offer online, it’s a superb idea to do some research. This can take the form of surveys to your current customers, analysis of reviews online, and analysis of competitor products and services online. The goal is to determine what’s already out there, what is likely to do well online, and how you can make your product or service stand out from the crowd.

3. Design and Develop Your Website

🗸 Buy a Domain.

Your domain is the website address people will type into the address bar to find you, for example, “www.mybusiness.co.za.” Choosing a domain that’s easy to remember can benefit your business.

🗸 Choose a Host or Server.

Your website will be built using resources such as images, video, text, and code. These resources need to be stored somewhere on a real-life computer called a server. The server also helps process actions on the webpage. Nowadays, your website can be hosted on servers from around the world reliably, but some companies choose to purchase their own server. This is only necessary if your website grows big and gets a lot of traffic.

🗸 Build the Actual Site.

It’s best to get a professional to help you create the actual website, someone who knows the ins and outs. From design to coding in the back end, someone who understands what’s important when building a website can really benefit you. There are some platforms that allow you to build your own webpage.

If you choose to build your own site, try to optimise it for search engine results, a short loading time, and ease of use. Remember to include an e-commerce application in your build so that you can sell stuff.

🗸 Set Up Your Shopping Cart and Shipping Options

Arranging shipping and delivery of your products and services is vital for an online business. Consider how you want the product delivered and what options you want to present to your customers. Are you catering to an audience that would appreciate pricey next-day delivery? Or does your supplier make it more likely that products will be delivered within 2 weeks?

Also consider what your buyer persona would be willing to pay for shipping. Some businesses choose to include shipping in the price of the product, while others choose to offer delivery options that are more affordable. Some websites offer free delivery if you spend more than a certain amount.

Similarly, your shopping cart experience is important. Make sure to set it up so that it is easy to use, not confusing, and not glitchy. Sometimes, if a buyer clicks on something they want to purchase but they have problems with the checkout process, you may lose that customer. This can turn into a massive problem and mean the difference between success and failure online.

4. Develop Your E-Commerce Strategy

🗸 Choose Your Channels.

On which platforms do you want to advertise? Factors that play into which channels you choose include cost and whether your audience is likely to see or respond to an advert on the channel. Options include AdWords, social media, and email.

🗸 Set Up Your Analytics

For effective online marketing, it’s important to track everything. The collection and analysis of data such as page visits, purchases, and much more can be achieved using analytics applications. Most often, Google Analytics is used, but there is a lot out there to help you collect and interpret all kinds of information.

Employee Roles in an Online Business

Consider which new roles employees can play to improve the operation of your e-commerce process, for example, labelling and packaging deliveries. You could also hire a permanent web developer, copywriter, designer, marketing strategist, and photographer.

5. Advertise Online

When planning your digital marketing, it’s a clever idea to hire professionals. A professional marketing strategist can ensure your strategy is sound and will pay off. Many people think simply having a website will result in lots of sales, but the truth is that you need to build traffic to your site.

Many websites exist yet get extraordinarily little traffic. A whole industry is dedicated to getting more traffic to your website, and it is called search engine optimisation. You can attempt search engine optimisation yourself by doing research, or you can hire an SEO expert for better results.

Another often underestimated way of reaching customers is a newsletter. Your newsletter will go out monthly or sometimes weekly to subscribers’ email inboxes. The biggest benefit of a newsletter is getting people’s email addresses and contact information. You can use the provided data to build audiences on social platforms and much more.

🗸 Take Advantage of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The most common paid means of advertising on the internet is called pay-per-click. You pay a small amount each time someone clicks on your advert. Pay per click ads can run on many platforms and even on mobile apps.

🗸 Create a Presence on Social Media Platforms

These days, your presence on social media, both through paid and unpaid content, is vital. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are worth considering, but Facebook is the most lucrative at the moment. With billions of users, low advertising costs, and measurable results, advertising on Facebook can increase your direct website traffic and your return on investment.

🗸 Partner with Brand Ambassadors and Bloggers

Part of your success online depends on great content. Along with hiring your own writer, consider partnering with bloggers and brand ambassadors who can grow your audience and reach with unique content that speaks to your audience. You’ll want to work with a brand ambassador that suites your brand.

6. Insure Your Business

🗸 Make Sure Every Aspect of Your Business is Covered

As with any business, making sure your assets are insured is important. Consider which types of risks your online business may be exposed to, from delivery problems to theft, fraud, and hackers. You can find a business insurance policy that offers a combination of solutions in one comprehensive business insurance plan.

You can also buy insurance policies that cover different elements, for example, fraud insurance, stock insurance, electronic equipment and data loss insurance, and more. Finding a good policy is easy. Most South African insurance companies offer free online quotes. Before you sign for the policy, remember to read through the wording carefully and make sure it covers everything you need it to.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical, or financial advice. Facts stated in this article are correct at the time it was published.

Sources: Experthub; Founderu;

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