Merchant Capital

Is it time to take your business online?

Whether business is booming or the Pandemic has forced you to diversify your operations, moving online presents real opportunities for your business. This may well be an intimidating idea, but technology is not as daunting as you may think. It really comes down to familiarizing yourself with the landscape, asking the right questions and finding the right platforms. So here are some key things to think about when it comes to taking your business online.

What are the benefits of taking your business online?

Before you consider the logistics of opening an online store, first consider the benefits. South African consumers have come a really long way when it comes to using e-commerce and they really love online shopping. Besides the Covid-friendly benefits, online shopping offers convenience, fast transactions, easy price comparisons and a targeted experience. For you the seller, you can look forward to low overheads and the ability to market your product virtually in addition to in-person. You will also enjoy the benefit of reaching customers in many geographical locations with added visibility to potential customers using SEO. Really, the beauty of online stores is the owner can enjoy a lot more control over the selling process.

How do I set-up?

Follow the easy steps below to get the process started:

1. Secure Your Domain Name and Website

Ideally, you’ll want to get your business name as your domain name, but if it’s not available, choose a URL that’s easy to say and spell, and directly relates to your business. So if your business is called Al’s Hardware, AlsHardware.co.za is a good option. But if that’s already taken then you could consider something similar like HardwareByAl.co.za. Whatever your choice make sure it is easy to spell and remember so you customer can find you quickly and intuitively.  

2. Select and customize a mobile-friendly theme

According to  BrightEdge data  more than half (57%) of web traffic now comes from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This means that your website absolutely has to be phone-friendly. You can get to app development down the line but in the meantime most web platforms will help you optimize your website so that it works well on all platforms. You also don’t need to find a fancy web developer. Consider using website companies like www.wix.com which provide lots of user-friendly options for theme customization. Remember that your website is your store-front and should reflect your brand identity in a seamless fashion. So make sure you tweak existing templates by adding your colour scheme and branding elements (like your logo). Resulting in an e-commerce website which looks 100% custom-made.

holiday-shopping-1921658_19203. Optimize for the web

Optomization is key. This refers to ensuring your website is Google-friendly so that customers can find you in a variety of ways. It also helps convert customers once they are in your vicinity. There are a couple of key ways you can do this. The first is to write descriptive and persuasive copy to sell your products. Tap into psychological tactics like fear of missing out, reciprocity and speciality which will entice your customer to close the deal. Then add beautiful seductive images from different angles. Make sure you name them clearly so they are searchable on Google.

4. Use the right software to be productive

Technology can really simplify your life. So before you start your e-commerce business, experiment with customer relationship management tools, accounting, project management and email marketing software. Each of these will help you integrate your website and help you sustain your business more effectively.

5. Create an amazing customer experience

Customers want more than a product. They also want a seamless, professional experience. This can come down to incorporating simple aspects into your  e-commerce operation;

  •   FAQ page

Pre-empting frequently asked questions on your e-commerce website anticipates your customer’s needs and helps potential customers quickly. The quicker they find what they are looking for, the better the chance there is of a sale.

  • Reduce image sizes for quick load times

 Survey data shows more than 50% of website visitors expect a page to load in less than two seconds. Any more than three seconds and they are likely to leave the page without returning. So simply reduce the size of your on-site images so it loads quickly.

  • Leverage user-generated content

People really care what other people think. This includes what they have to say about previous customers experience of your products. So by including user-generated content like customer reviews, images from social media, and testimonials on your e-commerce site, your brand becomes ‘social proof’ which will improve user experience and set your customer’s mind at ease when buying from you online.  

The bottom line

By setting up an online store you will diversify your operation, please your customers in new ways and move with the times. Just make sure that you understand this is more than a marketing tool, but rather is an important operational decision as well. This boils down to having logistics set up for both your e-commerce and bricks and mortar stores and thinking every element through carefully. Once done though, you will enjoy a wider audience and more satisfied customers. To secure a cash advance to set up your online store, contact us today.

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