Having an online business is almost imperative to a successful business at this point in history. While a physical store front is still extremely important to generate foot traffic, an online presence is not only expected by your customers, but also required for obtaining those online customers who prefer to shop via their computer instead of setting foot in your store. For example, you wouldn’t normally consider purchasing something like wine online, but when you promote it effectively, especially from in store, your online wine sales can easily take off.
Because of this demand, many business owners are having to take a business strategy course in setting up an online business as a supplement to their current physical store. Along the same lines, many new business owners are requesting or, later on, becoming business mentors to help set up a successful online business.
To get you started, however, here are seven tips that will jump-start your successful online business without requiring too much investment from you straight away.
The place for first impressions, the place for buyers or just passerbyers, the website is your ultimate key to a sale. By the time a customer has visited your website, you’ve already gotten them on the hook, one way or another. As in, you’ve already had your customer establish a need, and gotten them to a place where they can fulfill that need. The next part relies extremely heavily on how accessible, attractive, and desirable your products are on your website.
From even the more mundane products, like a pizza box supplier, to elaborate and attractive print packaging on electronics, your website should showcase them in a fast, efficient, and organised way for the website viewers. Nothing turns a customer away faster than not knowing where to find the product they need, or a slow page taking forever to load. Mitigate this by making your website as simple as possible and using the fastest type of website your money can buy. Follow these additional tips for more help in making your website stand out.
- Labeling and packaging
Your customer has purchased your item, and it is shipped off to their home or office. You may think you’ve already locked in the deal, but in reality, you’re only halfway there to a satisfied and returning customer. Product labels and packaging are incredibly important to the perceived value of the product to the customer. If you’ve ever received an especially appealing packaged item that you almost savour opening, you know how much it had an impact on you. You almost come to think of the product as worth more than it might actually be, purely because of the delight you had when unpackaging it.
As an online business, you may not have a physical store and therefore may not have the ability to interact with your customers and establish trust that way. Therefore, you need to find a way to make a great first impression when sending your product. Packaging and labeling will help you get there. Make sure your packaging equipment, from your creasing machines to your paper tape are of the highest quality and allow for versatility and variety in your packaging to provide the best customer experience.
- Warehouse safety
Office safety has become more and more important in all kinds of environments, including corporate and small businesses, but what about online business safety? Depending on the size of your online business, you may be running your business out of a home, or for larger businesses, you may have a product warehouse where they are created and shipped out of. Either way, keeping you and your employees (if applicable), safe, is vital to keeping your business running smoothly and efficiently.
Make sure you place safety as a priority, and that anyone operating machinery in the warehouse or shipping materials have all the safety protocols in place that they need.
- Have a niche
With the amount of businesses and websites on Google these days, trying to make sure your website hits the top of the page when searched can be extremely difficult without professional help. Because of this, you might want to become a bit more specialised in what you’re selling.
Finding a niche that fits both your mission as a company, and the customer’s needs as talked about below, will ensure that when customers search for products that you sell, you’ll be easily found.
- Customer needs
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. You can’t sell anything and be successful if you aren’t selling things that people need. Do some research, and establish who your customers are and what they’re looking for, before you begin to market your website and really drill down what you want to sell. Follow this guide for more help in establishing customer need.
Along with finding what your business’s niche is, you’ll also want to find the gap in what’s available to customers. When you’re just starting out, it might not be wise to try and jump into a market full of big competitors, otherwise you’ll never be seen among them. Find what’s missing and capitalise on it.
- Expand your traffic
You’ll need to find out where your customer base is coming from in order to expand your customers. What we mean is, you can’t begin to try and reel in new customers until you find out who your current customers are. Google analytics is the industry standard for finding out how visitors behave on your website, and will help you find out where visitors are coming from, and is easy and free to set up.
- Continuous improvement
Capturing customer feedback will help you improve not only your product, but also the pre and post sale customer experience. Use surveys, easy feedback loops at time of purchase as well as after purchase, and make it simple and fast for customers to provide their thoughts.
Along with that, make sure your customer service is top notch. When things go wrong with the customer service, you can make or break the experience with how quickly and easily the customer can report the problem. Be available and answer queries immediately to show your customers you care about their experience.
These tips will get you on your way to a successful online business, and hopefully spark your imagination for being bigger, better and faster than the competition. Good luck!