Have you pondered the prospect of moving your business online? The thought of doing so may fill some of you with dread, uncertainty and above all no idea where to begin. As business owners, besides perfecting your craft, product or service, you are also required to maximize all of the other necessary components such as sales and marketing to run a successful business. If you are a sole trader, this can be a difficult and sometimes overwhelming task to behold.
However, with technological advancements and opportunities within the digital sphere continually updating and improving, there are increasingly more opportunities to automate tedious tasks, improve productivity and above all decrease your outgoing costs.
If you are launching a new business, you hold the advantage above existing enterprises to jump on board the digital train from the get-go. Although it is still possible for companies who attain mostly a physical presence (such as shops and agencies) to move online, it will be more challenging to implement cutbacks.
Below we shall walk through the advantages to you, your business and your customers of moving your business to the digital realm. Subsequently following this with examples of processes you can transition to the web.
Meeting Customer Expectations
The decision to move your business online is one that also concerns how your customers perceive your business and how your company can meet their ever-increasing expectations. For example, a business owning a website and online presence is no longer a privilege it’s an expectation. Beyond this, it isn’t enough to just have a website, your site must be easily accessible, easy to navigate and mobile-optimized. On top of this, your presence online must be visible. For new customers, this means succeeding in being visible in front of customers that may not know your company exists. With Google promoting the expectations of websites on their search engine it’s an ongoing requirement for your website and online presence to be in top shape and conform to what best suits the audience.
A few examples of customer expectations of online processes are
Online Banking – It’s unheard of for a bank not to have an account for customers online to instantly access their account balance and make instant transfers. This demonstrates the necessity of consumers to have everything they need fast at their fingertips.
Online Order Processes– such as checking the stage of the delivery process. The reassurance of knowing at what stage their product is at in the delivery stage provides people with the security and knowledge of where their product is. The tracking process is available for people to monitor the journey. For example, when you purchase a pizza online from Domino’s, you can view the stages of the pizza being produced, cooked, and when it’s on the way.
Ordering an item online – Sophisticated business websites save the concern of consumers wondering whether a product is available to pick up in store. By providing data to show the customer if the item is in stock, where it is in stock and when you can collect your product. This saves time for the consumer traipsing to the store for something that may or may not be there when they arrive.
Understandably, each business has different operations, and ways of doing business and not all will instill the necessity to move their entire business online. However, there are some online platforms such as a website that are deemed as a necessity. Past your opening hours, your site is a way to connect with your customer 24/7, to provide details, prices, directions products and services around the clock.
The above online experience examples are tailored to benefit the customer, to meet their expectations, to stay ahead of other competitors that haven’t caught onto the advantages of using the digital world. And in turn, keep customers happy and giving them back time will enable the brand to develop credibility and professionalism, which translates into the customer trusting the provider and potentially purchasing their products or services now and in the future.
The Benefits of moving online for your business
Beyond filling your customer’s expectations of shifting business operations online for a quicker, seamless process to order, control and retrieve their good or services, satisfying your customer obviously has its advantages as mentioned above in proving your business credibility which in turn will likely encourage more sales. Past this, there are other benefits.
For instance, if you are a sole trader living in the big apple, renting a space (office, shop) to advertise your goods and provide a walk-in service for your customers can be quite costly, to ensure you make enough sales to sustain the cost of running your business. Which is why if you can move your business online to relieve the cost of purchasing physical premises you should. For a present example, the need for a travel agency to have multiple building to be accessible is no longer a necessity where the majority of consumers are happy to tailor and book their own packages online, sometimes for cost, sometimes for control, and other times because it is more convenient than leaving their apartment to visit an agent. Cutting down on keeping physical premises and travel agents will relieve holiday companies of outgoing costs. For instance, if you are selling custom-made clothing, you can reach a much larger audience online, opposed to renting and running a physical shop in a big city.
Other huge benefits besides saving business money from renting a purchasing a place to sell your goods, is that you can work from anywhere in the world. You are not restricted or confined to a set place of work. Meaning whether you wish to work in a local coffee shop, your home office or away on a beach, you can acquire the desirable life of a digital nomad and anywhere in the world. In doing so, to keep more of your profits you may opt to live in a cheaper destination, to increase your disposable income. Obviously, this is only if you can bear to tear yourself away from the city life.
Transition Business Processes Online
Now that you’re halfway to being convinced of the compelling reasons why you should consider running your business online, you may be wondering which processes are possible for transitioning. Below are a few of many aspects you can incorporate into your business to relieve expenditure, save time, and improve methods for you and your customers.
Transition your products or services online by creating an e-commerce store. With an array of site builders available at your fingertips, you are spoilt for choice on whether to hire a website designer or take control and design your own site using platforms such as Wix or WordPress.
Meetings and Interviews
With a steady internet connection and an application such as Skype, you can quickly conduct your meetings and interviews online without the need for excessive funding for travel and hotels to stop over in different countries.
A vital component for all businesses is active communication, as mentioned in the last step video calls enables you to see and hear someone who is in a different location to you. Beyond this, you have a barrage of options to send relevant information and data. With advances in technology, you can use a use a system to send a fax from computer to recipient by using software from a site such as Efax, to electronically submit documents, beyond this the regular forms of interaction online such as email will enable you to keep a relationship with your clients, business partners, and customers.
An integral confidential aspect of the business is the acquisition and protection of customer data. With a risk being posed to paper files, whether by a natural disaster or thief, considering moving your data online to a cloud will enable you to access this data from anywhere in the world, and save it from being infiltrated or destroyed by keeping it in paper form. The added benefit being you can free up physical space, if you do wish to maintain office space, by digitalizing all of your paperwork.
With a multitude of people offering their expertise online, you have a wealth of professionals ready at your fingertips willing to complete tasks you no longer have the time to do or that may be beyond your intellect. By outsourcing your work online to freelancer, you can relieve time taking care of taxes, sickness and holiday pay, as freelancers will cope with their own finances.
Print Marketing To Online
Moving you marketing collateral online and utilizing sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Business directories and developing marketing campaigns for PPC, display advertising, email campaigns and so forth will help you connect with the target audience specific to your requirements which is something paper advertising fails to do. For instance, providing you have a website with a good quality score and you pay for PPC advertising to arrive at the top of Google specifically for people within a set location searching for the word local Italian restaurant, you will appear only in front of people who meet these criteria. By funneling down your marketing processes to engage with the audience who are searching for a business like your you can save money on print advertising.
If you’re second guessing investing time and money to change and improve your current business processes or move your business online completely, you may want to consider the following; anticipate your own expectations of businesses as a consumer and research the likelihood of reducing existing outgoing costs by using some of the options above that may be applicable to your company. Forward planning the potential benefits of moving your business or specific methods online will enable you to devise a conclusion on how the digital world can benefit your business specifically.
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