If you run a traditional store, you should consider moving your business online. The number of Internet users and buyers increases every year. All of this results from the rapid ecommerce development. 2020 has been an unusual year for all online store owners - the ongoing pandemic additionally attracted people to online offers. That’s why you shouldn’t hesitate - move your business online and learn what to remember about.
Online sales in 2020 - why moving your business online is a good idea?
Although all forecasts predicted increased online sales in 2020, nobody expected such spectacular results. With each year, more and more people become avid online shoppers, however, the ongoing pandemic definitely contributed to the fact that the actual data surprised almost everyone. For many countries, March was the month when people were advised to stay at home and go out only when necessary. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve been shopping online more frequently than usual.
However, some people are still unwilling to shop online due to the lack of physical contact with the product. If you run both online and traditional stores, you can offer customers with such concerns the possibility to check out the item in the brick and mortar store, provided it’s somewhere nearby.
Thanks to the pandemic, the e-commerce market has been developing truly rapidly. But what does it mean for your business? Well, numerous customers who benefited from your traditional offer will now look for products or services online. Therefore, you should give them the opportunity to find you online. Moving your business online means the possibility to:
Increase brand recognition,
Reach new recipients,
Offer products or services 24/7.
2020 is also a record-breaking year in terms of the number of new online stores. Companies are fully aware of the potential of the online world, therefore, more and more entrepreneurs decide to move their businesses to the Internet. Maybe you should also take that into account?All the above benefits definitely prove that it’s a good idea to move your business online and start selling on the Internet. However, to achieve satisfactory results, your website and offer need to be well visible. What can you do to increase your chances for success?
What to keep in mind when moving your business online?
Starting an online activity can require taking different steps, depending on the industry you operate in. However, let’s focus on universal issues you should keep in mind, regardless of the products or services you offer:
Register your domain - you’ll need to set up a website. Of course, you can use a free subdomain provided by the hosting company, however, we wouldn’t recommend this solution. In such a situation your website address may look in the following way: companyname.hostingcompanyname.com. It’s not appealing, it’s much better to have your own, paid URL that you can advertise online and anywhere you wish.
Choose hosting - meaning the server your page is published on. Consider buying this service and registering your domain in one place. Thanks to it, you may get a free year of your online activity or the costs may be reduced to a symbolic price. Depending on the kind of your website, you may need different hosting. If your website is supposed to be your business card, then one of the affordable accounts should be enough, however, if you plan to run a sizable, popular store, you may need a VPS or even a dedicated server. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to make such investments only if it turns out that the cheap hosting services actually don’t suffice.
Set up a website - if you’ve registered your domain and chosen a hosting company, it’s time to set up your website. One of the ways to do it is to use the application provided by the hosting company. With its help, you can easily install one of the popular CMS systems such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla! You can also set up a store like PrestaShop, Open Cart, Zen Cart, or Magento. Although this specific activity doesn’t require any technical expertise, the installation itself isn’t enough - you also need to complement the site with content and images. Another easy and relatively cheap solution that allows you to set up a website is the use of a special creator. You can choose one of the templates and add the necessary elements. However, the best way to adjust the website to your expectations is to commission its creation to a company that specializes in web development. Although this solution is the most expensive, it ensures that the effect will meet your expectations and satisfy website visitors.
Create a company email - if you already have a domain and hosting, you can create an email address on your own domain e.g. email@example.com. With time, you may need more and more emails, especially if you hire employees.
Manage social media profiles - there’s no business activity in case of which a Facebook fan page wouldn’t be helpful. However, social media isn’t only about this particular platform. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Youtube are also helpful for many businesses. Each of these portals requires various activities but they have one thing in common - they help you reach millions of users who can become your potential customers. Obviously, these channels need to be tailored to the nature of your business.
Create Google My Business listing - to do it, enter Google My Business, and provide information about your company. It’s a great recipe for advertising your business in local search results and attracting new recipients. Thanks to it, Google may display info about your company in response to local queries. Below you can see the search results for the “used cars Jersey” phrase. Such results can be shown in various places, they’re frequently under sponsored ads but they may also appear among organic search results.
What to remember about when creating a website?
Depending on the type of website you want to create, you may need various activities. If you aim at setting up a:
1. Business card website - you can go for a CMS system or a static page. However, the first solution offers you numerous possibilities such as creating and running a company blog. You can update the site without the help of a specialist. It doesn't involve downloading, editing, or copying any server files.
Remember about providing a comprehensive contact tab on the page. Fill in your address data, phone numbers, and email addresses, depending on what kind of information may be of interest to the users. Place a Google map with a pin marking the company's headquarters - thanks to it, people willing to talk with you face to face will be able to easily find you. Below you can see an exemplary screenshot.
An extensive description of the offered services is also a must. Dedicate a separate tab for each category and make sure that the content is in line with SEO principles. A price list is also a good idea. Thanks to it, you won’t need to address numerous inquiries from people who may not be interested in your offer due to its price. Remember to precisely describe which elements affect the amount. Don’t mislead users because they may decide to leave your store.
If you’ve any concerns about whether the recipients will be able to properly understand your pricing, encourage them to contact you (e.g. with the use of a CTA button) in order to get an individual quote. In the case of many services, such as SEO, it’s impossible to provide a specific price without website and competitor analysis.
2. Store - in this case, only a modern CMS system can be used. However, you can choose the SaaS (Software as a service) model, use OpenSource or have your own store created. The last solution is the most expensive and it’s chosen mainly in case of projects whose investor has special requirements concerning the store's functionality. The remaining two options are more popular.
In the case of SaaS, you get a ready-made store, which you have to customize. You don’t need to look for a hosting company or install the software yourself. The company that provides the service is responsible for updates and operations of the server. In return, you pay a monthly or quarterly subscription fee. It’s an extremely convenient solution that allows to set up an online store without having any technical expertise.
In the case of OpenSource, installation can also be relatively easy - just use the application installer mentioned above. However, you’re responsible for updating the script or making modifications. Of course, you can have it done by a specialist.
Every online store should have an SSL certificate. You don't have to pay for it - in the vast majority of cases free Let's Encrypt is enough and it's activated automatically on many websites. It may also need to be activated, but in case of problems, you can contact the admins. What are the benefits of the SSL certificate? It's a protocol that provides encryption of the connection between the site and your device. Data cannot be collected or changed by anyone. Pages without SSL are marked as unsecured by Google Chrome. Besides, having SSL is one of the Google ranking factors.
Check out our article: SSL certificate installation - the most common errors
If you decide to open a store, you’ll definitely have much more work than in the case of a business card website. Among other things, you need to select payment methods or make agreements with courier companies responsible for delivering your goods. You should also work out the order process and adjust the store to the users to maximize the chances of conversion.
Moving your business online - what marketing activities to perform?
When your website or online store already exists, it’s time to perform advertising activities. At the beginning, the brand will be anonymous, so you should carry out actions that will improve its recognition and encourage users to order your products or services. How to do it?
If you run a boutique, a store with garden or electronic equipment, bikes, or other items that can interest every Internet user, you can incorporate all of the activities mentioned below. Of course, you should verify which activities bring your business the finest results and use the available budget to your advantage. So what activities to focus on?
Social media - activities on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.
SEO - which stands for Search Engine Optimization and means activities aiming at making sure that the website is in line with all Google guidelines. Thanks to it, you’ll reach high positions in the search results.
SEM - standing for Search Engine Marketing. This means sponsored Google Ads in the search engine.
Display Ads - this point is mainly about using the Google Advertising network that reaches more than 90% of Internet users.
Video marketing - why don’t you create a YouTube channel?
Email marketing - create a newsletter or send ads to users who have consented to it.
Influencer marketing - meaning cooperation with opinion leaders. These activities are based on the recognition and position of a given person such as a popular blogger or a social media user with a lot of followers.
In the case of some business types, it’s best to focus mainly on local activities. Are you the owner of a car workshop? Do you offer towing or a mobile electronic equipment service? If so, you should consider:
Google My Business listing - create the abovementioned Google My Business profile. If you optimize your listing properly, you’ve great chances for attracting new recipients. Reaching high positions in local search results, especially in the case of competitive industries, is quite a complex issue. Customer reviews, your offer’s content optimization, and NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) cards are some of the most relevant elements. In the case of local businesses, they may be the most abundant source of clients.
Facebook Ads - this solution allows you to reach a very specific group of recipients. You can determine many elements such as the location of users the ad is displayed to. Another way to attract people potentially interested in your offer is to set up a Facebook fan page.
Google Ads - you can advertise your business on Google and the offer can be shown only to users who live in designated areas. This is another effective way to reach local customers.
As you can see, activities should be tailored to the nature of your business. Make sure that your actions are also addressed to people living in the local area. Send email ads to local service users. Consider buying sponsored articles as they may also bring you numerous benefits.
What’s the cost of moving a business online?
You already know that it’s a good idea to sell products online and offer services on your website. So now you’re probably wondering how much it’ll cost you. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to give you one specific answer.
The first year of running a business card website may involve really small expenses. Your own design of a simple website and the annual cost of the SaaS model store will be much more expensive. On the other end of the spectrum, an e-commerce site created from scratch can cost an arm and a leg.
The marketing budget is another relevant issue. The cost of entering the network is relatively low unless we’re talking about sizable projects. One of the greatest advantages of online marketing activities is the fact that you can easily measure their effectiveness and choose solutions that bring you the greatest benefits.
There’s only one possible takeaway from today’s entry - it’s worth moving your business online and enjoying the profits. According to analysts, we’re likely to shop online even more in the upcoming years. Take advantage of this opportunity!
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