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How to Take Your Offline Business Online Smoothly

If you run an in-person business, you know that things can become difficult when trying to increase reach and growth goals. During the global crisis of 2020 most non-essential in-person businesses were urged to shut down, and while some have opened back up, it’s hard to know if it’s going to stay this way.

Many brick-and-mortar stores have shut down because of this. Even with some places reopening, people are not sure. They would rather shop online if there’s something they want. So you must give your customers what they need in this time of need. So how can you transform your in-person business to ecommerce lighting fast?

It may seem incredibly challenging, but you’d actually be surprised how fast and easy it can be. All of the apps and platforms make it easy for you to set up a store that’s easy for your consumers to buy from. Handling online orders can be pretty easy with the tools you have at your disposal. This might seem like an incredible challenge, but we’ve always known as business owners that flexibility is key. 

There are many things that need to be done before you start any online business. However, moving a business from offline to online operations comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Here are some helpful tips to get you online and selling. It could be even more lucrative for your business than you realize.

Understand the Different Types of Online Business

Many offline entrepreneurs make the incorrect assumption that their offline business can be duplicated exactly online. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While many aspects of an offline business can be duplicated online, online businesses fall into several different categories. A few types of online businesses do not even exist offline.

For example, while a physical store can be easily duplicated online as an ecommerce store, there are aspects of an ecommerce site that are unique to an online business. Things like blogging, content marketing, and video advertising are not necessary for an offline business. But in the online world, they can be important tools in making an online business successful. An offline retail business that would like to transition to online also has the option to include unique services like a subscriptions

If your business runs on the freelancer business model, understanding the difference is also important. Online freelancers include coaches, consultants, writers, photographers, and other businesses. The primary difference is the growth potential online tends to be much higher due to the freelancer’s ability to reach more clients.

Reevaluate Your Niche

Another important thing to consider is your current niche. As an offline business, your circle of influence may be customers in your community, city, or state. However, your online business has the potential to reach the entire world. Before moving your offline business online, you may want to reevaluate your niche to understand if there are greater opportunities available.

When choosing a niche for your online business you need to reevaluate your niche will allow you to fully concentrate on small and specific segments of your business. Niche markets are well-defined and specific segments that you chose to fully concentrate all your marketing efforts. It is important to note that a niche is not defined but created.

Once you find the right niche, you will be able to better serve that market. It is important to take this step before moving your offline business online. Pivoting to a new niche after the move could be costly with both time and money.

Use the Right Online Platform

The next step is to choose your platform. Will you be selling on your website or will you use online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay? These platforms already have the selling infrastructure created. If you choose to solely utilize online marketplaces, you need to make sure to take into consideration the amount of competition you will be facing. You also need to begin to understand the importance of reviews as a selling tool and for social proof.

If you choose to use your own website, be sure to have an attractive and user-friendly store. This means finding the easiest method to do this. Hiring a developer is not the only way when there are much quicker alternatives. It could be a matter of hours before your site has all its products on there and is ready to go if you use a platform like Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace. Take pictures of the things you sell, giving them a simple background so the buyer isn’t distracted by anything. These are merely photos to put there until you get more pro photos created. We’re focusing on speed right now remember?

You can also think of Amazon as an addendum to the store you create online. The most important thing here is good marketing content. This is what will sell your products. You should have a lot of this created already if you’ve had the business for a while. You’ll just have to make it more online-appropriate perhaps.

Understand Crucial Online Activities

The activities you practice online may differ greatly from your offline activities. When operating an online business some key activities must be practiced.

Your online business model should include a plan for evaluating the revenue streams you are currently working with. Online businesses enjoy the luxury of being able to change revenue models easier than offline businesses. Your plan is important because you need to know how much each stream generates and whether it’s worth continuing to pursue each one.

Another important activity you need to understand is the practice of improving technology and online features. Running any online business means that you must change as technology advances. This means using tech to better help you market your online business as well as every other operational and sales aspect of it.  You must stay on top of industry trends to keep your model up to date. If you don’t, your online business will quickly become obsolete.

Don’t be afraid of change—it may be hard at first, but it will allow you to keep things fresh and interesting for yourself and your customers. Be willing to pivot and adjust as needed, while keeping the vision of what you want in mind.

Building a habit of constant innovation will help your online business stay relevant. The activity of adapting will also ensure your venture survives the changing online business landscape. Check out our article 7 Key Activities for Any Online Business for more crucial activities that will help your new online business succeed.

Using the Delivery Process You Already Have

Being an online business means you will have to focus on a good and reliable delivery process. To manually ship and pack things can be a full-time job. As we adhere to social distancing guidelines, you already know that only a certain amount of people can be working near each other at once. The likes of Walmart and Amazon have created jobs by hiring thousands of delivery workers. The demand to deliver goods is massive right now. 

Don’t forget that shipping companies such as DHL, FedEx, and UPS are still running, so you can schedule pickups. Shipping schedules are all over the map right now with major delays but customers are aware of this. They are okay with waiting. Keeping them in the know (as much as you know) goes a long way. If you were using a shipping process when you had a brick-and-mortar shop, use this. It can take some time to get used to a new process, so use what you have for now. Chances are, you’re going to have a lot more deliveries than you had in the past.

 

Utilize Remote Teams in Different Time Zones

Right, so you’re going to be selling to the world now. This is good in many ways. All of a sudden, your customer base is going to increase by a lot. This may mean that you need to outsource your customer service throughout the globe. This alleviates your customers having to wait to have their questions answered. This allows you to have your business running all the time without you or your team members having to attend to it. 

Also, you don’t necessarily have to pay an arm and a leg for this either. These services can be very reasonably priced. This is going to increase customer satisfaction because your other counterparts in a different time zone can have products shipped while you’re sleeping. This gets shipments out faster. Here’s a little statistic to give you an idea of how valuable that remote team can be. Forty percent of customers reported that a faster response to their inquiry creates an improved customer service experience.

Conclusion

If you want to get your business online quickly, these are a few ways you can go about it. Business moves quickly, and pivoting has become essential. In light of all that’s happened recently, everyone should take this opportunity to create an online presence. Make it easy for people to buy your things and use these steps to make it easy on you. This shouldn’t take long. As you go along, you can tweak things and make them more streamlined. For now, just GET online.

For more, check out these articles:

9 Types of Online Businesses and How They Work

8 Things to Do Before Starting an Online Business

 

This article was first published in June 2020 but has been updated and expanded

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Loraine Couturier
Staff writer: Loraine Couturier is a jet set writing chick from Canada that travels around the globe. Her writing and marketing skills are what keeps her eating exotic meals and jumping on planes. Loraine loves writing about pretty much anything and likes to pass on the knowledge she has to others. Visit her at https://www.facebook.com/jetsetwritingchick

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Staff writer: Loraine Couturier is a jet set writing chick from Canada that travels around the globe. Her writing and marketing skills are what keeps her eating exotic meals and jumping on planes. Loraine loves writing about pretty much anything and likes to pass on the knowledge she has to others. Visit her at https://www.facebook.com/jetsetwritingchick

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