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How to Take Your Business to the Next Level by Moving It Online Staff
How to Take Your Business to the Next Level by Moving It Online
With the world in disruption and entire industries closed down there has never been a more important time to get online. If your business only has a bricks and mortar presence then it’s about time that you started thinking about ways to get your business onto the internet.

You might be wondering what you need to do in order to create your online store and begin selling that way, particularly if you’ll be handling the process yourself. If it all sounds too overwhelming take a deep breath. We’re here to break things down into bite sized pieces.

Online Money Making Sites: The Technical Components 

We’ll cover these in less detail but there are a few things that every business needs in order to create an online website to sell its physical inventory with. These include:

  • A domain name: Commonly referred to as a URL, this is your physical web address that customers can type in in order to access your business’s website. You can sell online and also provide directions to your physical store so that customers know where to find you once your doors are back open.
  • A web host: A domain name saves your customers from having to type in an IP address to access your website. But you’re also going to need a server on which to host the files that make the site work. That’s called a web host. And we have a number of great options to recommend. 
  • A website builder: Unless you have a coding prodigy on your team then hand coding your website is going to be an awful lot of work. That’s why most small businesses turn to website builders to get their site online. Take a look at some of our top recommendations. 

You will also likely need to make sure that when you choose the best website builder for you that it has an ecommerce theme available for you to use. If not, you might need to run an ecommerce script like Magento, or use an externally hosted tool like Shopify, to give your site the functionality to sell online. Finally, you’ll need a payments gateway/processor in order to take payments and issue refunds when required. Paypal is enormously popular but there are others. Your choice should be guided by the processor’s fee structure and by your requirements. 

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Read This Before Attempting to Build Your Own Website

For Your Online Business to Make Money You Need an Ecommerce Plan

After your offline business is finally ready to grace the pages of Google and various social media outlets, you’re going to need somebody to take responsibility for keeping the site in good working order. Beyond ensuring that your domain renewal and hosting fees are paid on time you are going to ideally need the input of some professionals to make sure that the site is a success. Here’s what you need to do when creating your own online store:

  • Set KPIs

Many businesses selling online develop a marketing plan which includes a detailed overview of what their plan is to sell over the internet. Like any good plan this should be measurable — and therefore include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which can be used to track online selling success. 

Assuming that you have a web analytics script installed on your new website you might want to keep track of and set targets for:

  • The card abandonment rate (this is the percentage of people that abandon the shopping process)
  • The average order value (AOV)
  • The repeat customer rate

These will all give you indications of how your site is performing on the internet.

  • Get Your Digital Marketing In Order

Just like in real life, you can’t expect customers to drop out of the sky and discover your website by happenstance. Instead, you’re going to have to do some hunting to find them. You can use the services of a digital marketing contractor in order to advertise your website to prospective customers through search engines or social media networks. 

If you’re targeting a younger demographic than you might find that advertising your online store on Facebook might be highly advantageous. For an older audience, a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign that targets the Google search engine might result in a higher Return on Investment (ROI). 

Other Essentials When Building an Online Business

Once you have your website on the internet and loaded up with your inventory there are a few other bits and pieces that you will need to have in place to make sure that ordering from your business online is as easy as it is for customers as strolling into your physical premises. 

  • Customer Support: These days customers expect to be able to easily get in touch with those that they buy from online. Most top ecommerce builders are set up to send automatic emails after key touch points like order placement and goods dispatch. But you also need to have some form of customer communications system in place to handle these queries professionally. Sure, an email address will do the trick, but you can opt for a more professional look by using a ticket management system. Additionally, a live chat functionality on your website is a great addition as customers do not need to have to wait in a (virtual) line to follow up on their order. 
  • A Phone System: For the same reason, you might also want to make sure that your small business can be reached over the phone. If your usual phone number is not reachable because your physical premises is currently closed, then consider setting up a virtual phone number and routing it to your cell phone. This will ensure that your customers still have a convenient means of reaching you without you having to reveal your private cell phone number to the world. 
  • ERP: Most ecommerce platforms include some means for keeping track of your physical inventory. If you want to take a leaf from the professionals’ book, then you might also want to consider subscribing to an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system — to make sure that when your customers place an online order your online and real-life stockeeping systems are speaking to one another. 

Now is the Time Make Your Own Online Store

This is possibly the best moment in history to make a step forward and bring your business online. Setting up an effective online complement to your physical store may involve a bit of planning and strategy work — but the long term results should more than pay dividends. Follow our tips to get your online site up and running. Staff's editorial staff is a professional team of editors and writers with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.