Starting a business and ensuring that it stays afloat is a mammoth task, even for the most business savvy individuals. That becomes even harder when unexpected challenges start to arise.
But that doesn’t mean that you will fail in conducting your business successfully. It is all about recognising the events that set you back, then preparing for these changes in your strategy, thus poising yourself to grow and succeed.
In this digital age, you will find that several businesses are yet to take their business online. There are quite a number of small brick and mortar businesses who haven’t yet ventured out into the world of ecommerce and what’s worse, many don’t even have a fully functioning website, either.
Since it is safe to say that online shopping is here to stay for good, businesses cannot ignore the value and benefit of taking their business online. Having an online presence means that a new sales channel can be utilised but it also allows businesses to cultivate meaningful relationships with its customers.
But it’s not always as easy as it looks, especially given that many other companies have clocked on and are already well ahead of the game. A LOT has changed in the Ecommerce world.
Once upon a time, you could sell just about anything and end up making a lot of money. Competition was sparse; technology was available only to those who could afford it and understand it, unlike today where it has all been made simple for every audience.
Now, Amazon has become the undisputed champion online and access to technology is no longer expensive. Your website is supposed to be your “Silent Vendor” and get you the sales that you want along with the real-world clients that you cater to. But before you launch an online store, you need to do your homework and be aware of the challenges that await you before you even begin:
Having a plan in place to address these challenges can position you to be successful for when you finally open your digital doors!
Here is a list of 6 major things to beware of before you venture into the digital world:
Finding Service Providers That Are Right For You
When you develop your website, the first few decisions you make are quite critical. This involves finding service providers that are right for you and your business and consists of website developers, payment processors and everything that comes in between.
Do your research so as to understand the features that you will actually need. Find out about the various services and the basis of their pricing, then determine if you’re getting a solution that has the potential to grow alongside your business.
If you’re unsure of the things you need or are confused about what to look for, approach fellow business owners in your niche and get recommendations. Many providers have resources that can be of huge help in the initial stage of setting up a website. It is a proven fact that majority of the shoppers are more likely to make a purchase on a website that’s easy to navigate, which tells us that aesthetics make all the difference.
The right provider can help you in shaping a customer experience that is professional and secure and will help you understand why exactly why it matters.
Attracting The Ideal Customer
The evolution of ecommerce has resulted in the evolution of online shoppers as well. Back in the day, online shoppers used to simply click on the product from a website and make a purchase, but today there is a whole ritual that they follow before finalising a purchase. These days, online shoppers search for products on Amazon because simply running a Google search doesn’t really give them exactly what they want.
They seek recommendations on social platforms for the products they wish to purchase, use their smart-phones to read product reviews and want to pay for their purchases through various payment methods, because hey, who doesn’t like having options?
Several things have changed including the way they absorb content and engage online. It is very easy for an online shopper to get sidetracked given the number of distractions that the internet provides.
Before venturing online, understand where your audience comes from and how you can successfully attract them without depleting your marketing budget.
Simplifying The Payment Process For Customers
Customers like taking their pick from the available options, so ensure that you make arrangements for their preferred choice of payment. It’s definitely a brilliant way to enhance the level of customer satisfaction and as a result drive more sales.
The latest Checkout Conversion Index by PYMNTS.com reveals that about 40% of shoppers online leave their carts high and dry amidst the period of visiting a business’s website and completing a transaction.
So, if customers have their payment related information saved beforehand with services like PayPal, Shopify or Apple Pay, it will be fairly easy for them to shop for things and make the purchase when the time comes. These payment methods are useful as it makes it easy for customers who use a mobile device to complete the transaction.
Integrating Online And Offline Payments
Integrating online and in-store purchases can become quite the task and in order to save both time and an unwanted headache, you can resort to using cloud-based tools. For instance, accounting software that works well with popular payment methods can help keep tabs on all your invoices and maintain them in one place.
So, it won’t matter if you get paid online or in your storefront as these tools effortlessly and automatically reconcile the payments received. This will save precious time that will otherwise be spent sifting through outstanding invoices and spreadsheets. Integration of online and offline payments via a cloud-based tool will do wonders during tax time as all the required data will be available in one place.
Spreading Out Your Customer Base Into New Markets
Selling online opens up new avenues for your business as customers from new markets around the globe can have access to your products and services. However, if you’re venturing out in international waters, it is important to mould your online shopping experience in a way that is specific for global buyers. The essential things to consider when making sales outside of your borders consist of:
- website translation
- secure and localised payment methods
- efficient pricing that lets you compete with the local vendors
- maintaining absolute transparency around currency exchanges and fees
Linking In-Store And Online Shopping Experiences
Considering all the technological leaps in online shopping, the expectation of shoppers has increased significantly. They expect a shopping experience that is more flawless and has consistent multi-channelling. It’s essential that you make your online and physical stores extensions of one another.
Try to use terminology on your website like “purchase online, pick-up your order in store” or “purchase online, return in store” to enable an experience that is both exceptional and engaging for shoppers.
Small tweaks like these help drive more sales, resulting in increased revenue. In addition, a strategy like this puts you in a position to make the most of your physical presence because it’s obvious that online-only stores cannot offer such a service.
Making the shift online is no doubt a very exciting prospect for any business. Conduct thorough research beforehand to help create a functional business plan that will eventually result in the growth of your business on both online and offline channels.