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How to Take Your Business Online

Going from a brick-and-mortar shop to an online store has become an important way for businesses to adapt to a changing economy during the pandemic.

Why is it Important to Take Your Business Online in 2020?

Going digital isn’t a new notion, but 2020 has forced previously reluctant South African business owners to reassess their stance. Where before taking your business online was just a good idea, the pandemic and consequent economic shutdown is forcing the issue. Business owners are in a unique position, but taking things online has its benefits.

One of the biggest benefits is being able to make sales even when the country goes into lockdown or when government sanctions mandatory business closures. Your customers won’t be exposed to any risk of infection, yet they can continue purchasing your products or services. A third benefit is being able to sell to customers on a global scale instead of only where your store is located.

Your physical store doesn’t have to close if you open an online store. In fact, running a business that sells in-store and online can also add to your value offering. Also called omnichannel retail, selling in a brick-and-mortar store as well as online makes it possible to offer ordering online and picking up in-store, among other shopping experience enhancements.

Business has changed thanks to COVID-19. Even though we can’t predict what it will look like once the pandemic is over, we know going online is a smart move. Many more users are shopping online now, and once they experience the ease and convenience, the door to the digital remains open for a lifetime. With trust in online stores increasing, your business can only benefit from going online.

The process of taking your business online comprises two main parts. The digital setup, and the business side of things. With a few easy steps, you can set up an eCommerce store that successfully brings in profits.

What Do I Need to Take my Business Online?

To take your business online, you will need a few important things:

  • You will need a domain. A domain is the address of your website. Internet users type your domain name into the bar in their search engine to find your website. Without a domain, your website can’t be on the internet. Your website will also need to be hosted on a server, either on your own or with a host you pay.
  • You will need a website. A website is as important to an online business as a registered address is for a retail store. With a website, internet users can search for and find your company information, view your products, and make purchases. Your website tells the world who you are as a business and gives users the opportunity to connect or buy.

    You will need social media pages. Your company’s presence on the internet is enhanced and strengthened with a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn page. Depending on the type of business you run, you may want to consider other forms of social media like TikTok or Pinterest too. Paid Facebook adverts are one of the strongest forms of advertising available on the internet. If you want your social media presence to result in better returns, hire a digital marketing expert.

  • You will need search engine optimisation. It’s not enough just to have a website. People need to be able to find the website easily. The art of optimising your website so that search engines find and rank it has become an entire industry. If you want your website to stand out from the crowd, hire a qualified and experienced SEO specialist.
  • You will need an AdWords account. AdWords is Google’s advertising platform. With AdWords, you can create adverts that will show up at the top of the search results for specific keywords. This is also a complex task, and hiring a specialist in this area will benefit your online store.
  • The Business Side of Taking Your Company Online

    An online business may operate in different ways than your brick-and-mortar business has. Here are a few things to consider:

    Changes to Product Supply and Demand.

    Due to lockdown restrictions, some of your products and services may not be marketable right now. If this is the case, now is the perfect time to consider adding new products and services that meet current needs to your online store. Also consider which products would work best sold online and focus on these products. The great thing about a digital store is the ability to make changes to your offering as the economic climate changes.

    Changes to Product and Service Delivery.

    With an online store, you don’t just scan and bag a product and send it away with the client. Getting your products to the client can pose more challenges. From source to transport and delivery, you will need to plan every step of your product’s journey. You can either package and ship products yourself or hire someone to do it for you. More shipping options are better when it comes to selling online, so look for a company that can diversify your options.

    Changes to Employee Roles.

    Your product journey is changing. Instead of needing staff to clean the shop, man the till, and put up signage at your store, you may need different roles fulfilled. You can retrain staff to fulfil new roles and hire on extra hands. Consider the following positions: designer, photographer, copywriter, web developer, SEO specialist, Digital marketing specialist, someone to manage orders and shipping, and someone to package products.

    Changes to Your Insurance.

    With changes in your business operations come changes in your risks. Your company may no longer have the same level of risk for liability claims, but your risks for data loss and theft may have increased. Your business insurance needs to cover your adapted risk profile.

    To make sure your online business doesn’t cause you disastrous loss, it is wise to investigate adding types of insurance to your business insurance policy or upgrading your insurance to a more comprehensive plan. The idea is to search for a solution that offers you only the cover you need, where you don’t need to pay extra for risks that aren’t significant to your business anymore.

    Changes to Your Marketing Strategy.

    Say goodbye to flyers, billboards, and in-store signage and say hello to Facebook Paid Advert, AdWords, and Remarketing. If you’re used to paying for traditional means of marketing, the affordability of online marketing may surprise you. It’s also way more trackable, so you can see exactly how much return on investment you are getting. Speak to a marketing specialist about how you can adapt your marketing budget for online advertising.

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical, or financial advice. Facts stated in this article are correct at the time it was published.

    Sources: shopkeep; pitchsm;

Covid-19 South Africa

For information about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, plus statistics on its spread in SA and related government press releases go to https://sacoronavirus.co.za/

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