If you’re still running a completely ‘offline’ business, you’re in a pretty exclusive club. Most businesses at least have a website these days. You should consider taking your business online before the competition beats you to it. Here’s how to do it.
The first thing you’ll need to do is buy a suitable domain name for your business. Think about what your business does and pick a unique, memorable domain that reflects that activity. If you’re a plumber, for example, you might want to buy plumbing.co.uk, rather than something like johnsmithplumbing.com, which could be used by any other company with the same name as your own. Similarly, if your business is a partnership or a limited company, it’s probably better to use its official title.
After you have a domain, you need a hosting provider. Cloud web hosting is fast and reliable, cheap to buy into if you don’t plan on using many of its features, and comes with plenty of free extras like email accounts and online backups. Remember that it doesn’t matter how good your software is – if your server goes down in the middle of your busiest time then nobody will be able to get onto your website, so it pays to keep an eye on things just in case.
The next step is to set up your website. There are plenty of free tools online that provide a simple way for you to build and host your own site, but if you want to make changes or add extra features it can get complicated and confusing. A professional site builder makes the process as easy as possible, which saves you time in the long run.
A graphic designer will be really helpful when moving your business online. If you have already got a great logo, you will just need someone to digitize it for you. You should adopt the same approach to the look and feel of your online presence as you would to a physical storefront. Check out these business signs from Signman and think about how they could be reworked for an e-commerce store.
If you’re selling products or services online, you need to configure your point of sale and payment methods. If you’re new to this kind of technology, it can be a little daunting at first but there are some great resources out there. The site-building tool that you use should have an integrated shopping cart so that you can start accepting online payments immediately. However, to increase conversions, you should accept payment from all of the main payment methods (PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, etc).
If you are selling physical products, you need to configure your shipping methods. A common mistake is that some SMEs sell online and then manually pack and post the items using their own resources. This approach can be very time-consuming and inefficient. Instead, you need to look for a solution that integrates with your site building tool or point of sale system so that it is straightforward to configure, manage and dispatch your shipments automatically.
A mobile app is a great way to increase your conversion rate. By integrating your POS and payment systems into an easy-to-use, user-friendly app, you are making it simple for customers to make fast, convenient purchases from their smartphones and tablets. This will also help you compete with the growing number of e-commerce giants that are now selling directly to consumers on mobile devices.
Make sure that you’re fully compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. Having a professional website doesn’t mean anything if your business falls foul of tax laws or fails to comply with trading standards. Make sure that you read up on licensing and certification requirements for your business so that you are able to deliver what is expected from an online store.
The last thing that you want to do is to launch your new website and then forget about it. Make sure that you have a plan for ongoing marketing and SEO activities to keep the site visible in search engines so that people can find you when they are trying to make an online purchase.
Search engine optimization doesn’t need to be complicated. Spend some time learning how Google works, what rules it follows and what terms it uses. Write content using a keyword-rich approach, making sure that each page has enough interesting material for users looking for something specific. Try not to stuff keywords into your text – focus on writing great content instead!
Further Read: 4 Ways to Improve Your Business Website