In the year 2016, an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world shopped online. The estimate shows that by the year 2021, over 2.1 billion people will be doing their shopping online. Online business is booming. The period between 2014-2017 has been an exciting year for businesses which went online to promote or sell their products and services. Amazon.com tops the pile. By 2015, Amazon was already controlling over 300 million active customers.
What does this information tell us about online business?
We should have taken our business online ages ago! Shopping online is not a trend that will lose footing in the next few years. On the contrary, the trend is expected to rise. There is no better time to start than now. Customers are ditching physical businesses in favor of online businesses, citing convenience and increased trust levels as some of the main reasons.
2018 is already here and I know most of us who do not have businesses online have been thinking about how to explore this space for some time. If you own a brick and mortar business, getting an online presence offers a great complement to the existing business. Join the band wagon. Now is a time as good as any other.
Lack of a good strategy to take your business online could be a major source of headache and could also lead to monetary losses. To establish a good online presence, there are a number of factors and action points you need to take into consideration.
Follow the following points keenly and you will definitely achieve success in your first few months of getting your business online.
What do you wish to promote/sell online?
Basically, there are two types of stuff you can sell online; Products or services. These determine largely the approach you will use in establishing your online business.
– Selling products
When selling products online, there are a variety of options available for you. These include;
Setting up your own store via own website
This is my favorite way because it offers me absolute control over everything, including pricing and shipping. A few years ago, setting up a website was very costly and most entrepreneurs didn’t see the need to pay thousands of dollars for the service. Today, the prices have plummeted considerably and once can get a nice website set up without having to break the bank.
Even better than this, drag-and-drop platforms and systems of creating websites have been developed, enabling non techies design beautiful websites on their own without any external assistance. These platforms are many but WordPress and Wix are my favorite.
Want to learn how to make a WordPress website on your own?
Using existing stores to sell your products in your online business
In some situations, you might find it tedious to create your own website and opt to sell your products in pre-existing stores. There’s no shortage of these stores on the web. Some of the famous ones include Amazon, Etsy, EBay, Shopify, TpT and many others. Explore each one of them, learn about the kind of products that is being sold in these stores and apply for yours.
- Most of these stores charge some sort of fees for using their services. These charges are made irrespective of whether you have sold any product or not.
- Setting up shop in some of these stores could bit a bit technical and cost you extra as you may need to loop in a developer.
- The main advantage of using these stores is that they have pre-built features that are rich and powerful to assist in the growth of your business.
- Most of these platforms have customer and technical support round the clock to take care of you in case you experience difficulties
- The platforms have an already established presence, giving you an advantage in that you do not need to invest much in promotions
- Conversion rates for some platforms such as Amazon are incredible. If customers view and like your product, there is a pretty high chance you will make a purchase.
- Selling directly on social media and other platforms
You may also promote your products on social media. If you have a good social presence, it is possible to make good sales if you implement the best practices to ensure success when selling products on social media. Facebook, twitter and Instagram convert quite well if well used.
Each of these options have a different system of implementation and approach and it would be important that you understand them before engaging in them.
– Selling services
You may also sell services via a variety of similar ways discussed above. If you wish to offer specific set of skills, consider websites such as Fiverr, Upwork and related sites.
If you are looking to hire services of all kinds, I recommend hiring on Fiverr.
Let you potential customers know where your physical business is located.
It is important to let your customers find you online. Google launched a great feature for placing businesses on the map. Customers can find you online as they go about their businesses and this could be a terrific way to convert them to sales. For instance, when someone searches for “pizza in New York City”, Only the pizza houses registered on Google maps in the city will show.
Register your business for free on Google maps here.
Online business is about testing and scaling
You will need to conduct a number of tests to see what clicks with your clients if you are offering an online product. Then after you get the product that receives the most engagement, you can scale it up and make some profit.
One of the best ways to know what works best for your business is to test what’s working and what isn’t. Be willing to change your strategy if you see it’s not effective – Kimanzi Constable, on Entrepreneur.com
Remember that something that worked for another person in establishing their online business might not necessarily work for you. You will need to find your own strategy, perfect it, scale it and stick to it.
Create an audience
How will you let people know about what you are offering or about to offer?
You will need to create some sort of an audience. Social media pages is a great way to build, engage and convert your audience. There are a few tricks to learn when building your audience on social media, particularly if you are just starting out.
In some instances, (too many, sadly), I come across pages which have excesses of 40k followers and any kind of engagement they receive are one comment or a like when these page owners post something.
Learn how to create a fully engaged page that you can monetize.
Create trust and maintain it
Creating trust and maintaining it online is a crucial element to success for these businesses. Clients need to know that they can trust you to deliver the product or services they paid for. lack of trust is the number one killer of online business. If you cultivate trust, you will be have crossed the first major hurdle people face. This will increase the probability or repeated business in the future.
There are numerous things one needs to do to be able to attain and maintain profitability in online business. Do not worry about them, you will learn along the way. You should note that changes in this field are many and frequent but if you keep yourself constantly updated, you should have no problem with creating, maintaining and developing a great business online.