A guide to starting selling your business’ products online quickly.
Your business is as important as ever in trying times, perhaps more. It is a beacon of stability in your community, is a source of support for your employees, and produces something your customers still need. If your business has traditionally served most customers in person, it may already (or may soon) suffer due to decreased customer traffic, inability to provide services due to health concerns, or government-mandated restrictions on activity. We want to help your business stay open even if your physical location cannot.
CLOUDPOKO helps to build infrastructure for the internet. We have experience working with many businesses as they shift from offline to online—and we support many online platforms that help businesses like yours operate online.
We are optimists, but can’t predict how long it will take humanity to vanquish COVID-19, or how long disruptions will last in your area. You should consider opening up online revenue streams if possible; they will help you both in the current circumstances and may provide interesting opportunities for growth into the future.
Your first online store
Building an online store from scratch is a major project. We would, candidly, likely advise most businesses against that project even in the best of times. Luckily, technology companies have created extremely good options over the last few years. These e-commerce platforms are inexpensive, easy to get up and running with, require no engineering effort from you, and provide your customers with high-quality experiences similar to the ones they get at the largest online-first retailers. They are, by far, the best, quickest, most reliable way to boot up an online presence capable of transacting with the largest number of customers.
We partner with multiple platforms and marketplaces that help businesses move online quickly without any code required. Some of our most popular platforms are WordPress, Joomla, etc. These solutions can help you open up alternative revenue streams and easily reach new or existing customers online to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business. You can also search for a specific solution that fits your needs in our partner directory.
Many of these tools are built specifically for use cases like:
- Donation platforms
- Non-profit platforms
- Faith-based platforms
- Restaurant and food delivery options
- Property management platforms
- Field service platforms
If the thought of putting your entire inventory or menu online seems overwhelming, focus on your top-selling products or services and build gradually from there. Starting small will help you get to market faster, give your business experience with the mechanics of operating online, and help you adjust to logistical challenges gradually.
Selling online is very different from selling offline, in that customers generally have limited options to viscerally experience the product or speak to staff prior to making a purchasing decision. You’ll find that writing copy, shooting photos, and creating video become core skills quickly. Happily, these are all easy to experiment with, and you likely already have all of the equipment you need to get started. (Smartphones are extremely capable of producing commercial quality photos and video!)
Attracting and retaining customers
To help you maximize traffic to your site, you may wish to consider leveraging the following tools:
Use your physical storefront: Your loyal customers likely represent a large percentage of your existing revenue base. Even if you are presently unable to service them at your storefront, that is, as of this moment, likely the primary anchor for you in their minds. Put up an external sign (especially if your storefront is closed) and/or internal signage (if you’re still open for business but preparing for a range of outcomes in the future) telling customers where to find you online. Depending on your region and clientele, it may be most natural to direct customers to a website, a QR code, or a search query on a popular platform.
Get in touch with existing customers: If you have customers’ email addresses, strongly consider sending them an email explaining the current status of your physical operations and directing them to your online presence. Your customers may want to hear from you now more than ever; it has been widely reported that local businesses are suffering and some customers want to know how they can help. Ask for their continued patronage; consider asking for their help in “getting the word out” about you via e.g. social media, referring friends, etc. We have a guide about effective email marketing for e-commerce websites.
Use social media (even more): Many businesses have active social media accounts. If you do, wonderful: now is a great time to make use of it. If not, setting up a simple account (consider asking staff or family what service they would expect to find you on) is generally free and easy. You can post updates about your operations to it and broadly just be present for the segment of customers who use social media and like your business. In addition to using social media yourself, you can encourage your customers to post about you. Presenting your goods in a way that makes them attractive for photographs or placing a thoughtful card in a delivery package that expresses gratitude for a customer’s support and invites them to post about you can help drive awareness.
We would love to help
We know none of us can do this alone.
Connect with us here and let us help you building your own online store.
You can try reading the blog here – https://blogs.cloudpoko.com/e-commerce-want-to-sell-online/