After more than 7 months since its start, COVID-19 is now heading toward the end, hopefully. But now, the world is different. It was refreshing to see how so many companies were able to pivot and transition their operations in a remote capacity.
As the world has faced hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of victims, it didn’t stop here. You will be shocked when you listen to the economic loss, due to it.
According to a report, during the initial three months (peak days) from April 2020 to June 2020, the world has faced a 10% fall in the income earned by people which equivalents to $3.5 Trillion.
More than 100,000 businesses closed in the United States alone and millions of businesses are just shutting down all over the world.
But, you will be surprised after listening to the stats for e-commerce and online businesses.
Amazon got record sales, Facebook reported a 16% increase in revenue during this time and all e-commerce brands along with other online businesses have made extra billions even in this pandemic.
If you are a small business and looking for how to move part of your business online, you are at the right place. In this article, we are discussing just that, how to successfully pivot and move part of your business online.
So stay tuned!
How to move part of your business online?
Before discussing the exact steps to be followed on moving your business online, we should discuss some things first:
- Why move a business online?
- What businesses can move online?
Why move a business online?
If you are in a brick and mortar business, make it completely online (or, as much as possible). You can take almost any business you have offline toward online. This could be a furniture business, a photo studio, a mortgage, a broker, etc.
There are expenses involved, of course but it’s totally worth it. And, sometimes necessary to keep your business afloat, considering the recent changes the world has seen with COVID-19.
So first, that’s the chief reason why you may need to move a business online. Due to a pandemic. This doesn’t happen often but it can, as we’re seeing. For survival of the business, transitioning to an online space may be required.
Next, you may want to move a business online (entirely or partially) for money-savings. Businesses that operate in person have more costs than online businesses. From office space, rent, utilities, and other costs, it’s just more expensive. So, save money and move online.
Then, there’s the opportunity to gain online customers. It’s a chance to increase the business income by attracting consumers over the internet.
These are just some of the reasons why you might move part (or all) of your business online.
What businesses can move online?
Nearly every type of business can move at least part of its operations online.
From service-based businesses to product businesses, government organizations, nonprofit businesses, etc.
The storefront is a website and with a shopping cart in place, purchases can be made just as easily over the internet.
Now, let’s check out 5 steps on how to move part of your business online.
5 Steps How to move part of your business online:
1. Analyze your market and competition
Before you get started, begin by checking and analyzing the market and competition.
If you just dive in without analyzing market trends, you could potentially be facing many problems.
For example, if you are a business selling a service of data recovery from devices, you can check the market trends in previous months using tools like Google Trends.
Google Trends is a free tool to analyze your market, giving you insight to whether or not you should penetrate the market or not.
Whatever industry you are in, it’s a good idea to conduct market analysis as a good first step to transitioning your business online.
2. Build your Website
Next, you’ll build your website.
You can do this in house or outsource the project to a web developer.
Your website is crucial for your online business.
How it works?
Building a website includes registering your domain, designing the site, adding a shopping cart, customizing the look and user experience, etc.
There are a lot of working parts to it.
Choose a professional name for your domain with a TLD like .com, .net to make it more memorable and professional.
Use a domain name as close to your business name as possible or a relevant name that would connect to your company well. You can search available domain names using tools like Godaddy.
Then, you have to get hosting, where you will be hosting your domain name, so when people enter your domain, they will point exactly to you.
After you get your domain and hosting, it’s time to build your site:
- Adding a shopping cart
- Designing the layout
- Adding a blog (if applicable)
- And, more!
The process can sound overwhelming but there are many free guides and resources online that can guide you through this process.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can always hire a professional.
3. Add Information and structure your website
Just like you showcase your products at your shop, the same exists online. And, your structure usually drills down to your homepage experience.
Adding important pages is a must. This can include pages like:
- And, more!
Imagine for a while, you are looking for a pair of earphones. You came to a website/page, which has all those things that you are looking for. Now, you want to purchase it.
Would you directly click on the Buy Now button without getting information about the product or seller?
A lot of online buyers try to find out more about the website or seller, including who they are, what they offer, etc.
Consider soliciting reviews from customers or use existing reviews you have from social media like Facebook, or thank you emails, etc. Display these testimonials across the site, which will help with buyer trust.
Think about the user experience. Consider conducting a user test so you can see the site from the user’s eyes. You’ll get information about what a new site visitor’s first impressions were, what they thought the website was about, if the site was easy to navigate, and more.
Also, add an FAQ page for common questions, a page dedicated to Contact so customers can reach out if they need help. These are just a handful of ideas we recommend as you develop your site online.
4. Create a marketing plan:
Build your marketing plan.
As a business owner, hopefully you already have a marketing plan in place. Now, incorporate your website into your strategy.
- Social media
- Content marketing
- Digital marketing
- Word of mouth
These are just some of the components you can include in your marketing plan.
How to do social media marketing?
Social media is super important, especially today. Find out where your customers are hanging out online. Make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site and review the data to see what social networks your website visitors are coming from.
Then, focus on building a strong network on that social media channel.
For example, if you have most of your customers coming from Facebook, you will want to make sure you have a presence on Facebook, whether it’s a Facebook fan page for your company or a Facebook group where customers can chat and interact with each other and the business, or both!
What’s great about social media is that it’s free!
So you can build an organic following and drive traffic from social media for free. You can also explore paid social media marketing.
How does SEO work?
Next, SEO (search engine optimization) is the secret sauce that gets your website found on Google.
There are key things you should be doing to help your website rank. This is a part of your marketing strategy so don’t ignore this.
This can include:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- And, more!
Content marketing is using the power of content to get your business found by customers. You can achieve this by adding a blog to your company website.
A blog is an excellent place to get traffic to your site. It’s also an easy opportunity to build up the SEO of your website.
Publish one to three blog posts per month (more or less) so a steady stream of content is being added to your site.
You can hire writers to do this or use your staff in-house.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is about marketing online and incorporates many things, from influencer marketing, Facebook ads, paid discovery, and much more. You will need to identify your marketing budget, set a plan in place for measuring progress, etc. And, of course a way to scale your digital marketing efforts in the future.
How does word of mouth and referral marketing work?
Word of mouth and referrals can be the strongest form of marketing.
And, one of the most difficult types of marketing to gain. For someone to refer a company, they should be blown away by the service and experience they received.
People are quick to share about their bad experiences but less willing to talk about their good experiences, unless it was exceptional. Work to make your customers feel exceptional and referrals will naturally start to flow into your business.
And, this is something you can totally outsource to a marketing agency.
Recommended reading: How to market a business with a marketing budget.
5. Engage with your customers:
After your business has transitioned online, don’t forget to continue engaging with your customers.
This is a different experience online compared to running operations and interacting with consumers in person.
It’s all about customer care. And, connecting with your customers, which can be done on your website, on social media, in groups, etc.
The Bottom Line: How to move part of your business online
In this digital era doing business online has many benefits. You can save money on inventory, utilities, overhead and other costs associated with managing your business.
It’s also a good way to pivot your company when in-person operations face challenges, like due to the 2020 pandemic. And, an opportunity to increase your revenue with online sales.
If you are looking to move part of your business online, you can definitely do it. Hopefully the tips and strategy we shared above are useful to you in your transition.
Why do you want to move part or all of your business online? Comment below.