For many entrepreneurs, 2020 was the year when they made the resolution to transition their physical business online. Three months into the year, it is not about a choice anymore. As governments across the world impose lockdowns to enforce social distancing, a lot of businesses have two options: shut down or continue to operate online.
While large corporations can afford to offer technological unemployment benefits to their employees and call them back to work once the crisis is over, for small business shutting down is very likely to be permanent.
Adapt and Survive
You worked hard on your business, so shutting down should not be an option for you. At any rate, digitalisation is the way of the future, and sooner or later you would have had to make this change. Consider the current situation the push you needed to transition your physical business online.
While now you see only the hard work ahead of you, once you complete this transition you will thank yourself. You will notice that your business works more efficiently, your customers and your employees are happier and your operational costs are lower.
It Is All About Teamwork
At this moment, you should truly rely on your employees and use their talents and experience to make the transition. They are relevant stakeholders, because their jobs depend on the success of this change. Thus, they will give their very best to help you.
Encourage them to organise brainstorming sessions and share their ideas with you. Tell them your own ideas and listen to their feedback. Together, you can make it.
Now, it’s time to get to work. Here are some helpful tips that will help you make the transition.
1. Start Using Remote Collaboration Tools
Since everyone will be working from home for a while, remote collaboration tools are a must. However, when you make the selection, consider a tool that you will continue to use on a long term basis.
Thus, apart from current discounts, analyse the features and functionalities these tools offer and how well they fit to your business specific. Also, consider the possibility to scale up the tool for a larger team and for more complex activities.
2. Find an Adequate Ecommerce Solution
Ecommerce platforms help you build online stores and integrate checkout systems. You can choose from open source platforms like WordPress or proprietary models like Joomla.
Each platform offers various degrees of customisation, is more or less easier to use and maintain without hiring a programmer and has different monthly costs. However, before you settle for the cheapest version, consider that it is quite difficult to move your website from one platform to another when you need more complex functions and a greater degree of customisation.
3. Select a Merchant Account that Fits Your Needs
Merchant accounts allow you to collect payments by credit card, PayPal or other payment options. When exploring various options, consider the following:
- The fees you have to pay for the service (some platforms charge per transaction, others as percentage from the amount);
- The ability to customise the checkout form.
The first item is self explanatory. You should find a platform that charges you in a manner that does not cut your profits too much. The second item has to do with user experience. A long and complex checkout process will make a lot of consumers abandon their carts.
4. Improve Your Online Communication Skills
You can no longer rely on in-store brochures or leaflets given to people walking by your store. You cannot lure clients inside with an attractive shopping window. Now, you must adapt all these marketing techniques to the online environment.
Instead of leaflets, use email newsletters. Instead of the shopping window, use your website and social media accounts to show off your products and help your customers find items they need.
5. Be Mobile
More than ever, it is of paramount importance to have a mobile ready website and a mobile marketing strategy. Your customers are using their mobile phones more than ever to pass the time and look for products, entertainment and information.
If you have been postponing it for some time, now it is the time to spruce up your website and optimise it for browsing on any mobile device.