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How to move your business online

As a digital presence becomes more important than ever, we look at how you can transform your business from offline to online.

 

The benefits of an online presence have become clear in recent years. But while some businesses have digital plans in the pipeline, others have no intention of making the leap: either because they don’t know how, or they simply don’t think their business can work online.

In reality, embracing digital can help just about any organisation – whether it be with reimagining operations, or simply making current services more efficient.

So, here are some considerations for moving your business online.

Moving your services online

If you’re a bricks-and-mortar shop, opening an ecommerce website can be a relatively simple jump with obvious steps. But what if you’re not in retail? How can you move your business online if you own a gym, a restaurant, or a consultancy?

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many to think outside the box. Businesses that once thought their offerings were ‘un-digitisable’ have found creative ways to engage customers online.

Here are some strategies that have been successfully adopted in recent months:

  • Gyms and personal trainers offering home workouts via video conferencing tools
  • Pubs offering ‘takeaway pints’ with the option of ordering ahead online
  • Restaurants transforming into takeaways by joining food delivery services
  • Organisations such as museums, zoos and galleries launching virtual tours

All it takes is thinking about your services carefully and exploring which of the digital tools and platforms at your disposal best mirror your business online.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – a little can go a long way.

How to move your business online

Choosing the right online platforms

Digital platforms are a great foundation for you to build a new offering on. And getting it right doesn’t have to be difficult.

Experimenting is key here – find the platform that best delivers what you’re hoping to offer. You never know, something as simple as a phone call may be the most effective way for you to communicate:

  • Consultative businesses – from therapists to music teachers – can replicate their people-based services via conference tools such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams
  • While Amazon and eBay are great entry points for ecommerce, it’s important to consider your competition and the demographic of your customers. For example, Etsy can be more effective for custom-made or vintage products
  • Even fine dining restaurants have found they can effectively use food delivery services such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats. Check details like the service fee of the platform, whether it provides delivery drivers, or which has the fastest service in your area 

Remember that building a website is surprisingly easy – so a good plan might be to integrate the above platforms with your own site, tailoring it to your business needs.

And when it comes to digital platforms, don’t forget the likes of Instagram and Facebook – both of which have account options specifically for businesses.

How to move your business online

Moving existing customers online

Of course, moving your business online opens you up to a new audience, but you’ll need to continue appealing to your existing customers too.

So many more people are now experimenting with broad online services beyond basic shopping – make the most of this moment:

  • Encourage customers towards your online business by announcing low price sales through email newsletters
  • Reach out on select social media platforms and use techniques such as time sensitive discount codes to create urgency and encourage site visits
  • Have a virtual conference – it can be a great way to engage customers and let them see your brand in a different light
How to move your business online

Finally, bear in mind that not everyone is comfortable with digital tools. Make it as easy as possible for people to access your site and navigate it.

Also consider how you can guide them through using your online services – whether that be over the telephone, or even sending them instructions through the post.

Think long term

Ultimately, digital technology is not just something to help you in the short term. Once you get started, you’ll discover dozens of ways that being online can add value to your business in the long run.

Online doesn’t have to eclipse your day-to-day operations. Instead, explore how your digital and physical businesses can stand side-by-side. Invest in the right talent and resources accordingly and build a business that can reap all the benefits that digital has to offer.

For more support you can also speak to one of our Business Advisers by phone or web chat. Wondering what you can ask? Our team can help with a range of digital topics

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