If the idea of shifting your brick-and-mortar store online has been giving you the “Should I or Should I not” vibe, then we’re here to set your mind straight. In this era, the internet has become a super-important part of our lives, and running a brick-and-mortar business without following the online rules is an idea that will not work. Why is that? Well, the reason isn’t that hard to guess. Today, people prefer the virtual world instead of picking up their keys and driving to a store to get what they want. Chances are, your current customers are already searching for a way to purchase your services/products online.
And, of course, creating an online version of your business isn’t a walk in the park. You have to set up a website, learn the laws of having an online business, define your image and brand, source products/services to sell online, and so on. We know; it is a lot to take in, but its benefits are beyond your imagination. Yes, that means you can save more money, provide faster service, have more flexibility, and do things that you couldn’t with a brick-and-mortar system.
So, if taking your business online is what you want, but you don’t know where to begin, let the following steps be your guide:
Choose the right website builder
In recent years, website design has become increasingly manageable and accessible to the average user. You no longer need a computer science degree to plan and style your website or online store. Website builders now provide users with the tools they need to rapidly and effortlessly create their sites.
Therefore, the first step in having a profitable online store is to select a great website builder. The best option for online startups is to sign up for a cloud-based builder. Cloud-based platforms are all-inclusive solutions that include domain names, online selling capabilities, web hosting, web design tools, and technical support. Moreover, don’t get so caught up in creating an online presence that you forget to hire a team of professionals to manage and provide support 24/7. In a fast-evolving industry like yours, you need to hire at least one person who possesses research, analysis, and risk management skills. So, focus on recruiting employees who have business-savvy degrees. For instance, candidates who have obtained accredited online MBA programs credentials know how to create innovative opportunities for a business. These online programs instill essential business skills indispensable to running a competitive organization.
Get yourself found
Many businesses put billions into developing a website to set an online presence and then abandon it. In the offline world, if you open a business in a high-traffic area of town, you will attract customers. They notice the building and decide to go inside. It’s a different story on the internet. After you’ve built your site, you’ll need to put in a lot of work to get it found. So, get your business listed on Google Places, local directories, industry lists, etc.
Connect to a warehouse and inventory management system
You must integrate both systems to fulfill your online orders directly from your warehouse while maintaining a precise inventory system that updates each transaction. You can accomplish this by creating a separate bin at the warehouse for the online store and transferring stock into that bin. This stock will be obstructed in this bin and used solely for online orders, and unless you move it back to them, it will not be replenished for the brick-and-mortar locations. Then you must connect the chosen online platform to the WMS (warehouse management system), particularly the bin specified for that. This technical step is dependent on the warehouse management system you are using, so we recommend delegating it to someone else.
Integrating both systems is critical to avoiding fulfillment issues that result in reimbursements or complaints from customers who paid for a product that is no longer available for shipment. It creates a negative customer experience, even if the payment was only authorized and not captured.
Always remember SEO
Search Engine Optimization tactics allow your website to appear higher in search engine results. Good SEO is essential for online selling. Below are some valuable ideas to get you started with SEO:
- Create Unique Meta Descriptions, Page Titles, and Title Tags: Create your product meta descriptions, page titles, and title tags. Use relevant keywords and ensure that your page titles are conveniently searchable.
- Optimize URLs: All URLs on your website should be written in plain English. Ensure that each of your product web pages has a URL that ends with the product’s name. Use forward slashes to add the terms of products and categories to your URLs.
- Look for long and short-tail keywords to target in your meta descriptions, page titles, and title tags: Look for both short and long-tail keywords (keywords that are two to four words long). Long-tail keywords are usually the best option for smaller online stores. These keywords are less competitive, and they help you get more targeted traffic to your product lines.
- Create a Blog: It’s indeed an excellent way to improve your SEO. By revamping your blog regularly, you signal that your site is active, which helps you rank higher in search results. Furthermore, blog posts help disseminate a large number of keywords, which aids in driving traffic to your website.
Make use of QR codes in novel and creative ways
You have offline clients, and you eventually want to communicate with them online. QR codes are scannable barcodes that people can scan through their mobile and be directed to a specific site. QR codes on direct mail pieces, store windows, checkout counters, and other vital locations can help you move offline traffic online. Keep in mind that cell phone users use QR codes. So please direct them to mobile-friendly pages where you provide something in exchange for their contact details.
Make use of online partners
You may have been slow to get your company online, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer indefinitely. You probably know other downtown business owners who have made the switch. They could already be receiving a lot of traffic. Find successful people online and set up a system for them to drive traffic to you and you to them. Businesses that augment each other can try referral or affiliate programs to drive traffic to each other at appropriate moments in the sales cycle. Using partners can help you get your online business off to a great start.
That concludes our list of steps you need to follow to take your business online. Each of these steps will help you set up your virtual business and allow you to stay on top of all the trends. And sure, the internet is constantly experiencing new upgrades. Still, the principles of setting and growing an online business have not changed. So, what are you waiting for now? Get your knowledge and details in order, set up an online business today, and you’ll excel in no time.