The following post comes to us from Keith Coppersmith, an experienced business consultant who serves small businesses and startups.
The number of online stores running today is calculated in tens of millions, and counting, which only goes to show just how popular this particular industry has become over time. However, some companies and entrepreneurs alike are still reluctant to let go of their traditional brick-and-mortar model, where working directly with customers has retained a unique charm. Still, more customers are asking about your website, looking for you on social networks, and are eager to communicate with you via various digital channels.
It’s high time you moved your ventures online, whether you’re running a small crafts store, or you sell heavy machinery to other industry conglomerates. Let’s take a look at several key steps you need to take in order to transition your business online as seamlessly as possible and make the most of what this digital world has to offer to modern entrepreneurs.
Plan the move
Even though you’ll be relying on your existing business strategy used for your offline store, the key here is to make sure all of your processes, systems, and operations are moved online without any issues or losing your brand identity. You need to have enough knowledge of the tech you’ll be using to support your online presence, as well as the rules and regulations you’ll follow in order to successfully run your business in the digital world.
Start by analyzing your present business structure and competences in order to use the data to fuel the move. This all-encompassing approach will help you get a better understanding of how you can transition online without losing loyal customers or confusing them with an inconsistent online presence.
Build an omnichannel presence
Some businesses appear as if they don’t have the same flexibility needed to move online with ease. However, even some of the least likely candidates have successfully done just that, so now you’ll find companies selling oilfield equipment online with great success and a stellar digital presence. In order to find the right fit, you should never think of your physical stores and products and your digital presence as separate entities.
Rather, you need to treat them as pieces of a single puzzle, all serving the same purpose: to make your customers happy. In fact, if you perceive them as complementary, the transition itself will be smoother, and you’ll be able to protect your brand image throughout the move no matter the industry you come from.
Keep track of your metrics
The move itself is only half the battle. Once you have managed to integrate your offline and online presence into a unified structure, you also need to be able to monitor how effective all of your digital decisions are. A versed digital marketer knows all too well of the struggles of separating a single store in a sea of likeness online, and metrics help every brand understand their weak links as well as their strongest features.
From monitoring your click-through rates, conversions, social engagement, all the way to keeping an eye on the balance of offline and online buys, you should slowly gain a better understanding of your target audience and their online preferences. That way, you can make changes on the go, adapt to your new eCommerce efforts, and integrate them into your existing business strategy.
Don’t miss out on social channels
Although it might all begin by creating your website and moving your brand’s identity online, you cannot afford to neglect social media when it comes to your eCommerce goals. In fact, modern brands often have entire teams behind their social efforts, in order to communicate effectively with their customers, gather feedback, mitigate any crises, and harness the power of social engagement.
Find out where the majority of your customers reside, how and when they like to interact with businesses, what kind of content they prefer, and other details. Keep in mind that in addition to useful paid campaigns you can launch on social networks, you should strike a balance between sponsored and organic content so as not to overwhelm your followers. Finally, you can utilize influencer collaborations to expand your online reach and strengthen your digital reputation as a trustworthy business.
eCommerce is growing at a head-spinning rate, and its popularity shows no tendency to wane. That is why every entrepreneur and business owner needs to start planning their move to this powerful realm, and make the most of its potential to connect to a greater audience.
Do you have experiencing taking a brick and mortar business and growing a successful eCommerce brand? Share your own insights by leaving a comment below!
About the Author: Keith Coppersmith is an Adelaide based business consultant with a degree in Media Management. With experience in numerous small businesses and startups, he enjoys giving advice on all things marketing.