Starting your own business may have been one of the greatest decisions you have made in your life. It allowed you to take control of your life while earning a living. It also allowed you to monetize your passion and hobby. Setting up a small business has its challenges: from establishing customer service, expanding your marketing efforts, and applying for a merchant account for credit card processing for small businesses to make it convenient for your customers. All these have made your small business flourish and have secured you a solid customer base.
However, things have suddenly turned around. Doing business the way you did it before will not cut it anymore. Taking your business online will give you flexibility in your operations. Regardless of shutdowns or any safety restrictions that may be imposed in your area, your business can continue to run.
From preparing your business for its transformation to applying for a merchant account specifically for high-risk credit card processing, here are the things that you should consider when taking your small business online.
1. Assess your business.
Before you get all too excited to take your business online, prepare your offline business for the transition. Take stock of your current offerings. What products and services can you add to your catalog to make your online business successful? What are your best-selling products or most sought-after services? Thinking about these things will help you to think of ways to improve what you have to offer and which of them will make great online products and services.
Next, identify your target audience. Of course, by now, you know what customers your business attracts. You must decide the type of online audience that you want. Do you want to reach more types of customers to widen your market?
You will also need to think about your brand. How do your customers remember your brand? Are you happy with how your customers identify your brand? If you think you can still improve something in your branding, now is the perfect time to do it. Reinvent your brand image with a new and more relevant logo. Play up your brand theme. Think of a catchy tag line. The web is a crowded place, and you want to stand out among thousands of competitions.
The answers to your assessment will help you in the development of your e-commerce website.
2. Create your domain name.
For your online business to look and feel legit, you must have your domain name. Your domain name is your address in the vast world of the internet. It has to be unique, yet it has to represent your business. It must be easy to remember and easy to type, as well. Stick with short, recognizable, and easy to spell domain names.
Once you have decided on your domain name, you must check if it’s available and register it through a domain name registrar.
3. Set up your e-commerce website.
Hire a website professional to set up and design your website. If your domain name is your address, your e-commerce website is your business establishment. It showcases what you offer: your products and services.
Your website should be designed in a way that will make it easy for your customers to avail of your services. It must be easy to navigate and must be designed with your target audience in mind.
To make your e-commerce website useful, you should include the following in your e-commerce plan:
Shopping Cart: A shopping cart refers to software that allows your customers to browse through your product catalog. Through a shopping cart, your customers can select and click on items that they want to buy, make changes to their “cart,” and proceed to pay for their chosen items.
Payment Options: You have the option of using third-party services to collect payments. Another option is to apply for a merchant account. A merchant account will let your customers pay for their orders using their credit or debit cards without leaving your site. If you have a merchant account for your offline business, you may have to apply for a merchant account for your e-commerce site. E-commerce businesses are tagged as high-risk merchants, which will need a different processing solution for credit card payment than your offline business.
Secure Sockets Layer Certificate: If your customers are online savvy, they will be looking for this before they buy anything on your site. An SSL certificate encrypts your customer’s information, so having one will make them feel secure in purchasing through your website.
Valuable Content: Engage your site’s visitors with informative web content. Tell a story about your business and include informative blogs that are aimed to help your customers solve their problems. You can also hire an SEO expert to help drive more traffic and leads to your site.
The internet may be an overwhelming place, but it provides businesses and buyers a convenient way to sell and shop, respectively. Confidently take your small business online so you can expand and grow your market, and make your business more resilient.