In the past, shifting to e-commerce was only a choice for many traditional businesses. In the wake of the pandemic, what used to be a choice is now a necessity to survive. Last year, many businesses had shut down permanently, and those that survived had no choice but to make the shift to digital. This caused a surge in growth of the local digital economy, prompting more online businesses to set up shop on different e-commerce platforms.
Many traditional business owners may find the digital landscape intimidating and, in some cases, overwhelming. Still, with enough research and planning, the digital shift can become the best business decision they ever make. If you’re looking to make the digital shift to drive your business forward in these difficult times, here’s how you can do so.
Do Your Research
Before you create a website or social media channel, it’s important to do your research. Conducting proper market research can help you figure out your target market, study consumer behavior, know what marketing techniques apply to your type of business, and other aspects that can help your business thrive. The good thing about shifting from a traditional business is that you already have people interested in your items, with some being regular customers at your brick-and-mortar store. The key is to convert your offline customers into online ones while attracting potential customers.
It’s important to remember that a marketing strategy used for a physical business differs from that of an online business, so you’ll need to learn about effective online marketing strategies as well.
Invest in Online Presence
Having an online presence is just as important as the items that you sell. Without it, your business might seem shifty or unreliable, which isn’t what you want for your business. A lack of online presence can usually deter potential customers from buying your products because most shoppers do their research and refer to social media sites before purchasing anything online. This could be in the form of a recommendation or review on a store’s Facebook page or even a video review on YouTube.
The essentials of building an online presence include a website, social media marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO), among others. It’s important to plan each aspect carefully and take each component one step at a time.
It’s important to remember that not all types of businesses need a website. Those that do, however, need to consider several things before building their site. One of the most important things you need to consider is the purpose of your site- this could be either to provide more information about your business or serve as your e-commerce platform. Whichever choice you make, remember to optimize your site for mobile. 79% of online shopping transactions are done via smartphone, so if your website isn’t optimized, potential customers may click out of your site and not push through with their purchase.
Social Media Marketing
This is an area where you need to plan carefully before jumping in. Before creating your social media channels, understand how your target market consumes social media and use this to your advantage. Use social media to show both existing and potential customers how can serve them better. It’s also important to engage with your customers as often as possible by sharing content and building a rapport with your market.
Search engine optimization is a cost-effective marketing strategy that allows you to get higher rankings on search engine results. Simply put, when someone looks up a keyword related to your business on a search engine, they can find your page if you use SEO to your advantage. Through various methods such as link-building and keyword targeting, businesses who use SEO can get significant results to raise their rankings on different search engines.
Building an online presence isn’t a one-day affair, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get any leads first.
Choose Your Platform
If you don’t have a website or don’t want to make your website your shopping platform, you can use popular e-commerce platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Zalora, or eBay. Most online businesses set up their shops on Shopee and Lazada simultaneously, but if you’re new to digital marketplaces, choose one platform you’re most comfortable with. Once it picks up, consider branching out to more platforms.
Make Your Listings Attractive
Nobody will buy your products if they’re poorly shot or have incomplete product descriptions. Ensure you take a photo of your items in a well-lit area (if possible, have them professionally taken) and avoid using stock photos. It’s also important to provide a detailed product description for each item so that customers know exactly what they’re getting.
Enable More Payment Options
Make your business accessible to different kinds of customers by enabling different payment options at the checkout. Most stores offer common modes of payment like cash on delivery, credit, and debit. Make your business more unique by accepting payments from remittance services, online wallets, and other less common payment methods.
Choose Your Shipping Method
When it comes to your mode of shipping, your best option is with contract couriers. Most e-commerce platforms are already in contact with couriers, so you may not have to worry about this aspect of your business. For business owners who conduct business via their website, however, you can get in contact with the courier of your choice and set up a contract with them to deliver your goods to customers.
Ensure End-to-end Service
It’s important to let customers know that they can come back to you at any time after a transaction if they encounter any problems. When you offer an end-to-end service, you show that you care about providing the best service and ensuring customer satisfaction.
As a business owner, you always need to prepare for the unexpected. And in uncertain times like these, you must stay flexible and continue to adapt to both consumer behavior and the changing economic environment for your business to thrive.