The internet is now a vibrant space where people connect, information is disseminated, and businesses thrive. People connect, gather information, seek entertainment, socialise, and shop online. It is no wonder that businesses are fast migrating to the virtual world. Online presence is now a must if you want to keep up with the times. Even the oldest and most traditional establishments have taken steps to adopt the virtual way of doing business. There are non-negotiable steps when starting an online business. These will not only ease your start or transition to the virtual platform but could also affect the success of your new venture.
Important Step to Starting an Online Business
Find your product
If you are new to the business world, finding the right product is important. The right one will be an inspiration for you to get up and work every day, while the wrong one could discourage you. The right product, niche, or industry should be something that resonates with you personally. It could be something that you use, something that you need, or a subject of your passion. The key is to be working on something that you love. If you love cooking, think of food or cooking products. If you’re into fitness, how about fitness clothing or programs?
After deciding on a product, find if you have a viable market for it. Is it saleable? Lastly, learn as much as you can about the product and industry you are about to take on.
Know your customers
A key difference between brick and mortar and online stores is the customer profile. Opening a physical store, your target customers will most likely be the people near you – the neighbourhood community, your friends and family, and people who are expected to pass or come to your store. An online business will have the world as its customer base. As your target customers can be anyone who has access to the internet, your business model should be adapted appropriately. This could affect your marketing efforts, pricing, promotions, and production.
Learn the logistics
Logistics will be a huge part of your business planning. Unlike when running a physical store where most of your customers will be coming to you, you will have to figure out a feasible way of shipping your products to your online customers. You will face big decisions on shipping, packing, deliveries, storage, and the corresponding fees. While you can always pass the costs to the customers, you also need to consider how it will affect the buyers’ decision. Not a few buyers back out from making a purchase when they see the shipping fee.
Aside from the costs, you will also need to consider the packing and safety of the products. Heavy and fragile items will cost more to ship. Taxes will also add to the costs if you are to ship overseas.
Build a website
A business website is especially important for an online business. This is your storefront.
If you are to make a good online presence and make an impression, a great website is the best way to do it. It will present your products, your brand, and the company as a whole. It is a place to showcase and sell products and services, connect with your customers, and introduce your company to the world.
Just like an impressive business office, a reputable business website is a big factor in creating a positive online reputation. We are all strangers online, thus, people are doubly careful evaluating their connections, whether business or personal. A great business website will help reassure your clients and grow your business.
Take advantage of social media
Social media have become the primary platform for connecting and socialising. Everyone can easily access the internet, owns at least a computer, a smartphone or both, and have at least one active social media account. Given its boundless reach and marketing might, social media is the most effective and cheapest way of connecting with people – your customers.
A website is also a great marketing tool. Using your website as the hub for your marketing efforts, you do not only drive customers to your business pages, but you are also promoting your products, services, and growing your company’s reputation.
If you own a business and still haven’t gone online, you are losing a lot in terms of lost opportunities and advantage over your competitors. Starting a business online or expanding to the virtual platform comes with a lot of advantages – unlimited business hours, a worldwide audience and client base, and endless marketing opportunities. It also has some challenges – shipping and logistics and proper representation to name a few. Taking these five steps will help you manage the risks and encourage success.