Beginner’s Guide To Shift An Offline Business Online Rapidly & Successfully
Moving a physical business online is no easy task, clicking your fingers and bam, is not enough. While the emergence of the Coronavirus has accelerated online shopping, today it is beyond doubt a necessity for businesses to sell their products online and not solely rely on their offline activities. Your physical shop may be very profitable and successful, but if you do not make the transition online, let’s be honest, you may not be able to survive in the long run to make more sales. But how do you take that first move to shift your offline business online when you are a beginner without the knowledge or previous experience in e-commerce? You probably have many questions and apprehensions which are normal. After all, your journey started out as a traditional business and for years you have been successfully serving customers, so why move your business online now?
Let me be frank with you, the process of moving a business online is often composed of various challenges – one false move and it might result in a pitfall. It is even worse if you do not receive the right information and guidance right from the start. It can be difficult for businesses in certain industries (such as restaurants) to grow without putting an actual storefront in place, which can often mean opening a second location. However, having an online business offers many advantages over traditional ways of running an offline business. For that purpose, in this blog, we will explain some important steps about how to move an offline business online. Through detailed and simple steps, we will share with you everything that you need to know to confidently move your offline business online.
Create a website to move your business online
There are many steps to taking your business online. But before you can do anything, there is one crucial first step: creating a website. It is normal to have no idea of where to start when creating a website. You might be wondering what the site should look like or how it will help you to sell products when you’re just starting out in this industry. After that comes the crucial question; who will create the website for you? The truth is you’ll probably end up in a state of complete confusion, and frustration. There are many web developers and agencies to choose from, but it’s not necessarily an easy task to choose the right expert. Not only should you hire a professional that will meet your business goals, but you should also ensure that you are being guaranteed after-sales service and proper assistance.
A website is the hub of your online business, so it must be pleasant for your customers to visit. We don’t want you to worry, but if your website isn’t easy to navigate, you may have difficulties selling online, and your customers will walk away and never come back. A good website should be
- On-brand design;
- With A Smooth Checkout Process
We fully understand that building a website can be a real hassle. Therefore, we can advise you which website will most suit your business needs, and most importantly, where to get the ideal web developer.
Get Your Merchant ID
Are you wondering what a merchant ID is and why you need one to start selling online? In short, a merchant ID is a unique code given to your business to process online transactions for customers. It enables you to move your business online and start accepting online transactions securely. But first, you need to set up your merchant account to get a merchant ID. So how do you get a Merchant Account? Getting a merchant account may be a frustrating step in your online transition as it requires an assessment being completed by an acquiring bank, just to make sure that your business is eligible to operate online. Here are a few things that you need to check:
- Is your business eligible for an account?
- What administration and documentation will you need to get you set up
- What support is there to help you with the administration
Though it may be complex, time-consuming, and discouraging, we can smooth the process for you by assisting your business with all the admin work so you can move your business online rapidly with your merchant ID. Appletree will work with you and the acquiring bank to help obtain your Merchant ID rapidly, taking the frustration out of one of the important steps.
Choose The Right Payment Solution
One of the most important aspects of moving your business online is to opt for the right payment solution. Being in traditional shopping, you will be familiar with classic payment methods such as cash, card, or juice payment. Well, online shopping is no exception.
To start selling online, you need to set up and integrate a payment system that will enable your customers to securely purchase on your website, allowing you to collect money without any hassle. Today more than ever we find that cybercriminals are cunning, just like for traditional shopping you may encounter pickpockets, online cybercriminals who try everything to hack your customer’s data and financial information. If you want to shift your business online and make sales, having a secure payment system is vital. If your customers don’t feel safe when entering their personal information, they may leave your website without making a purchase.
Keep in mind that the watchword to sell online is safety. Easier said than done! Choosing the right payment method for your website can be challenging, especially when you are a beginner and have little, or no knowledge about online selling.
You may be confused on what or which payment solution is best for your business, and also which payment solution your customer is more at ease with and will use regularly. With so many thoughts in mind, it will be difficult for you to make a decision. Here are a few things that you need to check when choosing a payment system for your online store:
- Whether your payment system provides an easy solution to connect to the platform you want to go with
- Can it connect directly to your bank account; you ideally want the money directly into your account.
- Can you customize the payment page to your requirements?
- Is the checkout process smooth and easy for your customers?
At Appletree, we speak to a lot of potential and existing clients who are not able to decide what payment method to choose, simply because they do not know how to choose the best option for their business. With this in mind, we have decided to share a list of some eCommerce website platforms with information on what they can or can’t do and how easy it may be to use a payment gateway. Download our list of eCommerce website platforms and get a better idea of how to choose the right payment gateway for your business.
Get Your Audience On Your Website
It can be exciting to start selling online your website is live with an online payment method ready to go. But let me tell you something, your online transition cannot be fruitful if you do not attract the right audience to your website. In the same way that customers need to visit and walk in your physical store to make a purchase, you need to get customers to visit and shop in your online store to make sales. What is the purpose of selling online if you are not reaching the right audience? But how do you get your audience to your website? Firstly, you need to identify who your target audience is. Well, there’s no need to panic. As a physical shop owner, ask yourselves who regularly buys your products. Is it women more than men? Are they from a specific groupage? or do they come from a distinct location? Set up the profile of your ideal customers as this will help you to better reach them online. Depending on your business nature, your audience may vary.
However, as compared to traditional shopping, for online shopping, you have to go find your customers and not wait for them to come to you. Ideally, your product or service should address customer’s frustrations or problems. Here are a few questions that can help you to identify your audience:
- What is the demographic profile of your audience (age, gender, profession, income level, education level among others)
- What needs, challenges and frustrations do they have?
- How will your product or service help your target audience?
- Where does your audience hang out?
- What is the desired action of your target audience?
At Appletree, we understand that finding the right audience when moving a business may be difficult. This is why we can help businesses to understand their audience better in order to reach them successfully, and sell online seamlessly.
Moving a physical business online when you have poor or no knowledge about it can be a real hassle which tends to discourage businesses from taking the plunge. In addition, if you do not have the right assistance, you might end up frustrated and giving up on the transition. Yet, today more than ever, moving your business online is necessary- but this does not mean that things should be done in a hurry and carelessly. After all, moving a business online has many implications – be it financial, sentimental, or even legal, to make sales online, you need to follow some golden rules.
Though it may sound very complex, at Appletree we have your back covered. From technical assistance to administrative support, we can help you from A to Z so that you can move your offline business online rapidly and successfully.