Whether you are looking at bringing your business entirely online or are exploring a mixture of clicks and bricks, this post outlines a range of items that you need to consider before you make any adjustments.
Anticipating your clients’ needs is vital when it comes to making any changes, regardless as to the reason behind any innovation. This is true whether or not these changes are intended to be temporary, or represent a new way of doing business.
Do your research into marketing
Marketing an online business is different from marketing an offline-only business in a variety of different ways. It should be hoped that some of your offline clients will join you online, but you will need to research a whole range of online marketing strategies in order to maximise your presence on the internet. This may include areas such as social media, advertising and above all building a presence online. You should thoroughly understand your demographic in order to ensure that you know who you are targeting and to then tailor your marketing endeavours towards them.
Build your site
Your website is your online business premises, providing the first interaction a potential client will have with your business. Ensure that your website is fully functional and compatible with browsers across a range of devices including tablets and smartphones. Similarly, your site should be debugged and proofread with the same level of detail that any other business publication would undergo.
Reveal your site at the right time
Ensuring that your site is high quality and well designed can take time, so it is important that you do not rush this in order to meet an unreasonably tight deadline. A short delay in revealing your site is preferable to launching a half-built or buggy website which can have a negative impact in building your brand and developing an online presence.
Don’t over-complicate things
The old adage to keep it simple is definitely worth following when building a new site. In addition to keeping your site simple enough to be accessible for the average user, your wider online presence should be targeted and on point. Keep your social media presence small and fairly simple to begin with rather than a scattergun approach across all platforms. Don’t be too complex, keep your content clean and to the point for your audience.
Unlike a product catalogue which once released is ‘done’, a website is a living, breathing entity which will need regular ongoing maintenance. From the inevitable updates of products and pricing over time to the periodic need to fix broken links and other glitches that occur in line with the ever-shifting sands of the internet at large, maintenance is essential. At the same time, regular insertion of relevant and topical content will help your site in two different ways, firstly it shows clients that your site is regularly updated. It also helps no end in optimising your site for search engine listings.
Ensure that your online payment methods are supercharged
If you are taking money online, ensure that your payment process is simple and robust enough to cope with demand. There can be nothing more frustrating for a customer who has their credit card in their hand ready to confirm an order than a website’s payment service to fail at the crucial moment. In producing the payment policy for your website, ensure that the pricing structure is as transparent as possible, to eliminate any hidden costs as these can shatter trust in an instant.
Look at the big players
No fledgling website is going to bring down one of the big boys such as Amazon or eBay, but lessons can be learned from studying aspects of their model. Learn how they built their business as well as how they continue to keep their client base engaged and develop your own strategies for this to fit your own business.
Make refunds and returns simple
Making your refund and return policy clear for customers helps to build trust in your brand. Ensure that this is clear in your own mind before going live, in order that customers can follow it clearly, whilst working in the light of the distance selling regulations.
Use pre-existing tools
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when building your new website. E-commerce sites have been going for more than 25 years, so using analytics and other tools from providers such as Google can help you to track and refine the performance of your site efficiently and effectively.
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