11 steps Ultimate Guide to take your offline small business Online
Hello everyone in today’s post we will see how to take your offline business online and make more money doing so.
You will also offer your product and services to online customers.
Now a days, when everyone carries Smartphone in their pockets, more and more Indians surfing the internet all along there day.
Only few years back every one do not have a facility of accessing internet from their mobile devices, because of various limitations.
They only access internet when they are in front of their laptops or desktop computers, But now those days are long gone, today everyone browse web by simply opening various apps from their own mobile phones.
This is a very important aspect, and makes no mistake about it; mobile age has changed the rules of the game completely and this includes doing business both offline and online.
You must have noticed lot and lot of customers constantly looking online resources to find out information about products they want.
They also search for local shops to find their credibility whether they should trust that particular local shop or not.
If it’s not available online then they doubt about its trustworthiness. Increasingly more and more customers finding local providers of goods and services on internet.
The conclusion is very simple, you should migrate your offline business as soon as possible to online. Your window of opportunity is quickly shrinking and you definitely should not get left behind.
It is not important what your business is, it can be a local institution, it can be a business that has been passed down from one generation to the next, it doesn’t matter if you have a very solid brand locally.
If you are not an online brand any tech Savvy local competitor can easily overtake you. Your local business viability and success largely depends on your online presence.
You may already have taken decision about migrating your offline business to online, but unfortunately there exist a right way and wrong way about getting yourself online.
You can also say that there is a smart way and very dumb way of doing things.
So many businesses migrating online don’t have plan and clear idea about the methods and strategies that are available to them,
by doing things in a wrong way they waste a lot of money and very little output.
If you really want to maximize your return on investment that you make from your side to get yourself online, you have to go through this post.
This post will help you migrate your offline business to the internet in a very easy way by making sure that you make very smart decisions.
You have to remember that you can get maximum output from your investment on your online migration. This post will surely give you solid Framework with which you can use winning strategy that will make your business online migration very smooth.
Be clear about your objectives.
At this point you are probably thinking that you need to get on the Internet very quickly.
But this very same urgency will make you do some mistakes and the major reason for this is having no plan with you.
If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.
In online business migration, it is very easy to lose lot of money and time.
There are hundreds of people out there call themselves as web designing agency and online migration experts.
They will give you an initial Attractive budget to transfer your business online, that eventually go out of your control.
And in a worst case the website they make for you after charging you, actually doesn’t even meet the ultimate objective of your business, and convey some other message to your visitors who are your prospective buyers.
If you want to avoid this you should have a very clear objective.
At this moment of time in your Quest to go online you should sit down and avoid your urge completely to hand over to any external agency.
Instead think calmly about the objectives of your business website:-
What message do you want to give?
Your objectives will dictate your goals and your goals will ultimately decide how your website will be designed.
If you are absolutely unclear about your objective, you will end of making wrong website with all wrong online presence.
It is very bad for your business because you will create chain of events that will finally prove very bad for your business.
Decide your business area Local versus regional
Are you planning to service only to your local area?
Many times if you own a small pizza shop or hosiery shop or a computer repair store, you may easily think that your business will never go beyond your local market.
You will serve the same local area that you have been servicing all the time. You must be very clear about your assumptions about this.
To help you try to answer these questions:-
a) Do you really looking to grow locally?
b) Are you perfectly happy with the current volume of business that you are getting?
c) Do you really want to expand your business beyond your local boundaries and to your surrounding district?
d) Are you really want to grow your business to your regional area and to cities around your city?
You have to be very clear about this because many times you don’t have any idea about how much you want to grow.
You should always think big and it is very beneficial also.
Because once you migrate your business online, considering to which area you want to serve, it is very difficult to scale from there to a larger area online.
To clarify you future expansion goals, you might want to ask yourself these questions again:-
A) What are your short term goals?
b) What are your midterm goals?
c) What are your long term goals?
One thing you must keep in your mind, even if you are just offering hair salon services in your local area or you may own Auto Parts business, that only sale spare part here and there.
It is of importance to properly scale your online presence, if you are thinking that your business will run in the same way for the years to come, you are not using your full potential.
Once you have a very clear idea of what you are actual goals are, and what your growth projections and should be, next is obviously start thinking about your business scalability.
If you are damn sure about you don’t want to grow into regional or on a national front in any point in the future, then you should rethink on building scalability into your online business.
Full eCommerce business versus only your contact information online
You should decide how you are online presence would be.
Do you want to use your online presence only as a point of sales, or as a point of customer contact?
Some businesses may lead a full eCommerce Store to showcase their products online and try to sell them, where as some other businesses only need basic information about their business online.
You have to be very clear about these two things.
If you are thinking that you really don’t need to sell anything online and only want a way for your customers to reach and know about you, then you must keep in mind and that internet is very flexible you can use its full potential to expand your business and sales.
a) You may take reservations online.
b) You may take product orders online.
c) You can simply take information about your prospective customers that you can use after the actually come to your shop.
Having an online business website is very beneficial, because people can visit your website and also refer it to others.
You can create an engaging content yourself on your website,
people just put their online information in a way of business card or on websites like Justdial.com.
It’s up to you to define which approach work best for your business not only now but also in the future.
Now that you know about two possible approaches towards your online business, you should come to a clear decision about which approach or objective apply best to your business.
No matter if you even have a vada pav stall, now and then you will need internet to get orders from online people.
Be clear about your goals
Many businesses get themselves in trouble because of only one thing and that thing is lack of clarity.
Small business owners usually don’t have any clear idea about their goals; they don’t have goals so they waste their precious time in doing things that are not actually required or beneficial to them.
This ultimately results in business failures.
If you really want your business to run as smoothly as possible, not only on online platform but also offline you have to be very clear about your goals.
In this post we are talking about online business migration so we will list down the goals that you will be pursuing towards your online business that you are migrating.
But before that you must know that you should choose minimum two goals from the following list.
Every business may have different needs and obviously their goals may be different from each other, the circumstances in which the business operates is different for everyone.
List of goals that you can look for:-
While choosing your goals think about kind of impact that you need your online business will have on your customers.
1) What impact do you want your online presence to have on your business?
This is very important because it will decide what you really want from your online business, you may be looking to increase your sale through a wider area of service.
You may also want to increase your sales by educating your customers better about your product and services.
Simply you are looking to establish a solid local brand among your competitors
2) What timeline you need to complete your goals.
Whenever you choose your goals you must know about the timeline to complete them.
Is it a short term goal?
Is it a midterm goal?
Detailed long term goal?
It is really important to know about which goal you can achieve in which timeline.
If you want to grow your business on a national level business, this must be a detail long term goal.
When assigning Timeline to your goals, keep in mind available resources to your business that you can use.
Think about the basic cost that you pay for your online migration
Now that you have a clear idea of what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them, it’s now time to think about costing of your online business.
Pay attention to the following business cost closely:-
When building your site.
You are making your first business site the basic cost to keep in mind is as follows:-
a) Domain registration
b) Hosting account
c) Website design
d) Social media promotion
Maintaining your site
Once you make website, there are various website maintenance costs.
The website cannot run on its own, you have to carry out lot of operations to keep it running.
You will need money on following things:-
a) Content updates on your website
b) Various promotional updates
c) Domain and hosting renewal
Look for your industry Standards online
Migrating any person online is easy, as you can open an Face book account, Google account and free blog on blogger.com.
But when it comes to the offline business and its migration to online business the game is very different.
You cannot just go out there, without your research open a free blog and start writing content about your products that will not work.
Instead you have to look for what other people have done in order to build business online.
Some of the things are:-
a) What kind of websites they put on?
b) How are their designs?
For example if you are dentist, there ought to be hundreds of other dentist in your city and some of them must be online.
Then you should go and check out their online presence, similarly you should do this for your whole country to see what type of websites they make and how their websites are performing.
Depending on this data you may proceed to build your own website, in other words your website should look exactly what your customers are searching online for.
If you create something else likes a personal blog that will not appeal to your customers.
How they list their products and services?
This will also help you to save money that you will spend on your designers, because while in a process of building your website if you don’t have a clear idea of your competitors blogs and websites you will have to do a lot of changes in your design.
This will eventually cost you more money than you think so you should always look for your market standard online and plan your online migration accordingly.
Mobile compatibility is must for your website.
Now is a mobile age and if you over look this aspect of your website, then you are in trouble.
Make sure that whatever design you decide has to be completely mobile friendly, if you don’t do this then lose your 50% of customers.
Make your online presence stand out from others in your market
As we have discussed about industry standards that you can follow online, depending upon your market you should look for some certain patterns.
Always try to find out these things:-
a) What method they use to tell customers about their business?
b) What kind of payment processor they use for their financial transactions with their customers?
c) How they are using navigation in their business website?
d) What type of font they use on their pages?
e) How long there content is on a particular page?
Answering above will help you bring some uniqueness in your online presence, by making small changes to your website.You have to follow your market standards while designing your website.
Like we discussed earlier if you are a dentist, then your website must look like dentists website.
Choose Word press for your website
No matter what kind of website you want to make online, there is only one option that you can go with utmost confidence and that option is open source content management system called as Word Press.
WordPress is completely free, and most importantly millions of people worldwide collaborating to improve WordPress security, and quality, functionality of the system.
WordPress doesn’t cost you anything, every hosting company promote WordPress through their platform, and give easy one click option to install it onto your website.
It’s really very easy to make changes both in the content and the functionality of your website and you can easily change your appearance of your website.
Some key points about word Press
a) Standardization of WordPress
WordPress is completely standardized, when you start using it you are not the only one to use. Millions of people all around world will be using the same code as you.
If you come up with any problem, you just have to search your problem on Google and you will find Solution almost immediately.
b) Unlimited themes and plug-in.
WordPress has its own themes and plug-ins available for you, to make WordPress unique content management system.
c) Unlimited designs and functionality.
Easy customization in your hand, WordPress is extremely standardized it is very easy to customize WordPress as per your needs and requirements.
d) WordPress is more secure than any other option available.
WordPress updates regularly with all latest security patches, so you need not to worry about your work and content getting hacked.
You can use sites like Wpthemedetector to spy on compitators.
As we have discussed earlier we should maintain industry standards and make our website accordingly.
You can easily accomplish this task by using Wpthemedetector.com
Make a list of your competitors in your market and see what themes and plug-in they use by using this awesome tool online.
Keep your customers in the loop while designing your website
In this post we are discussing about taking your offline business to online platform with no problems at all.
As you must be having your offline business well set up, you already have customer base.
You must use feedback of your existing customer base when you design your website; they are your primary sources when it comes to migrating your offline business to online.
here are the ways how you can achieve this:-
a) Make contest and ask for your customer’s opinion
Easily hold the contest and ask your customers which type of design they want.
Put standard designs in front of them and let your customers choose what different element they like. You can then use this feedback to create your website more efficiently
Contests are nothing but giving incentives to your customers when they approach your shop for shopping, you may then show them your site and ask for their opinion.
b) Build anticipation about your online migration.
This is one of the most important aspects of marketing your business online; you basically don’t want to launch your website with no people visiting your website on Launch day.
You must have noticed that movie industry build this kind of anticipation by releasing upcoming movie teaser followed by their trailers.
You may want to do the same thing with your existing customer base by simply handing over fliers that declare about your online presence.
You may also want to give them small reward for waiting and anticipating the launch of your online presence, building anticipation is a very effective way to engage your existing customer base emotionally towards your online brand.
This strategy pays back very smartly because for the simple reason when you launch your website finally your existing customer base anticipate and participate with your website and they will definitely share your brand with their social connections.
c) Your migration process must be a grand branding event
Offline businesses online website launch is really a big deal, but lot of offline businesses ignores this fact and they simply migrate online without doing anything like Grand launch event.
You have to make sure you take maximum benefits from this event, you can think of running special promotions to make your customers happy and in return they will share your online presence with their connection on social media.
Make sure to publish your blog with your business website
Only putting your website online and giving your customers incentives to promote it is not enough, because now a day’s anyone can make a website.
You must start a Blog in your website and publish useful posts about your business regularly, so that people will learn more about your product and services.
This will also help your business to show up in search engine rankings.
Use social media marketing to your benefit.
Everybody knows about the power of social media, if you miss out from using social media in your marketing plan then you will lose in a big way.
Once you get your social media into your market equation, your online brand and business stands to expand exponentially.
This will not only help with your online credit-ability but this will eventually help you to get real customers to step in to your shop or business.
Here are some ways how you can accomplish this:-
a) By using contests in your blog
You can easily create blog post about your promotions and also you can push your contest to your blog posts to your already existing client base.
This customer best in turn can easily push this information to their social platforms like facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and many others.
b) By using consumer action based marketing tactics
You can easily just share coupons or discount offers to your existing customer base to share. More they share the more they get offers and coupons delivered to them.
c) Build your brand and online presence on all social media platforms.
Firstly you can take a survey with your existing customer base to know more about their social platforms, then you can go and create accounts on major social media platforms like facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn,YouTube, instagram and many more.
After creating these accounts make big announcement about your online migration and launch.
You can hold a special sale or special promotion about your business so that more and more people know about your social media platforms and your product or services.
d) Maintain customer engagement on your social media accounts.
This is really important for you to know that many new businesses who migrate online thought that only creating social media accounts is enough for them to get large customer base.
This is big mistake because if you want successful transition, of your offline brand on to the internet you have to maintain your engagement with your prospective customers.
You have to keep sharing compelling content through all of your social media platforms and you need to actively encourage your followers to share your material, this too can be achieved by holding contest or offering big discount coupons to your viewers.
e) Email marketing for your online business.
There is very famous proverb in internet marketing that is “money is in the list”
In simple terms this means that creating a system that collect email addresses of everyone who visits your online website.
Once your collection of email ids starts growing then it becomes very easy to get connected with your customers, you can offer them anything you want and they will trust you, this is very beneficial for your online business as well as your offline business.
One way to collect these email ids is to hold contests and promotions and offer freebies to your customers like discount coupon.
When they come to your site then they have to fill a simple form where they opting for your email list.
You may also send your list member’s very nicely crafted newsletter about your business, there is also a provision called auto responder in email marketing.
We will see all this in our coming posts but for now please remember that email marketing is a must for your business when you migrate online.
When you migrate your business online it’s already connected with your offline business.
You must remember that everything you do online and offline leads to your brand trust.
You may think that online is a different thing and if something happens with your brand online that will not impact your offline business but this is not true.
Please keep in mind below mentioned things:-
a) Your social media behavior.
Be careful about what you post on your social media accounts, it should be related to your brand and business and it should always have a positive effect on your customers, don’t post anything else that is not related to your business.
b) Interaction with your visitors.
You should always make sure that you treat people with respect who come to your social media accounts. Make sure to use a standard practice to answer questions and queries that your customers may have, you should answer them as soon as possible.
c) Your reaction to reviews about your business.
People will tend to post reviews about your offline business on your online website, some time some people may post negative reviews, you have to present your side effectively so that their questions must be answered. Improve your offline business by using online business credibility.
The process of offline business migration to online business seems to be very easy like only creating website that displays your products and services, but in reality this is not the case.
You have to work hard and create a solid plan in order to move your business online smoothly.
Please remember “first impression is last impression”.