Small Business Saturday Blog

Tips for taking your small business online

Tuesday, April 21 at 15:30

If you’ve got a bricks and mortar store and you’re not currently selling your products online, you could be missing out on thousands of potential customers from around the globe. Luckily, you can change this with just a few simple actions and by taking advantage of the latest ecommerce technology.1. Make sure you’re searchableThe bare minimum a customer expects is to be able to find some information on Google about your company - the days of putting your number in the yellow pages being enough are long gone! You can start by making sure your Google Maps entry is up to date with an accurate location and information. Next, get set up on TripAdvisor and start building up valuable reviews for your business to boost customer confidence - getting listed is as simple as clicking a button to claim ownership of the business. Make sure you add a few photos so customers know what they’re looking for!2. Set up an ecommerce storeIf you’re a retailer, adding an online store with the likes of eBay, Amazon or other Ecommerce providers is extremely simple. If you’ve used something like eBay as a buyer, or perhaps to sell a couple of personal items, then you’re three-quarters of the way towards using it for business. This handy guide will take you the rest of the way. For something like Amazon you just sign up to one of their seller programs and you’ll be prompted to add your products to their marketplace. You should be aware that different provider’s selling costs do vary, for example eBay prices listings based on how many items you’ll be putting up per month, and offers you a fixed fee based on this. Amazon charges you a similar monthly fee, but also charges ‘referral fees’ on top of this. Make sure you include these extra costs when you’re calculating the profit you’ll make on items.3. Build your own websiteThink setting up your own website with a store is a huge hassle? It can be, but if you take advantage of automated website building services it’s a whole lot easier. There are lots of providers which can do this for you simply and easily, but two great examples are ekmpowershop and shopify. Building a website that looks professional gives credibility to your brand and provides an initial point of contact for a customer searching for you online. It also allows you to sell products without the fees associated with selling via larger ecommerce platforms. Even if you’re not going to include a store on your website, it’s a cost-effective piece of advertising for your business.4. Focus on your most valuable productsMost small businesses with a physical shopfront find that just twenty percent of their products generate over eighty percent of their sales. To maximise the return on your time and energy spent creating online stores and a website, you should start by only putting this twenty percent of your product base online. You’ve just cut your workload massively without a corresponding effect on your sales! You can find the time to put your full roster of products online later.5. Manage your online sales with the latest technologySo you’ve got your own website, Amazon and eBay stores all set up. But hang on - if you’re selling across all of these platforms, isn’t logistics going to be a nightmare? Luckily, it doesn't have to be. You can use the latest ecommerce technology to add new products and monitor stock across all your online stores as well as your physical shop. There are plenty of providers which offer this service, such as e-trackit and Linnworks. Once you’re set up, the online arm of your business virtually runs itself - all the while netting you extra sales. Bare in mind that the extra cost of using these solutions has to be taken into account - you have to ask yourself if they’re worth the amount of time they’ll save you in the long run.Getting your business online has another big benefit. When it comes to finance, traditional providers won’t look too far past your credit score when assessing your application. iwoca integrates with online selling accounts as well as high-street banks and payment providers to get a real-time snapshot of your trading data. In addition to this, we take into account customer feedback scores across various websites when we make a lending decision. That means that setting up online has another benefit - it could increase your chances of being approved for finance!By setting up your company to trade online, you can make sure you’re not left behind in the digital age and empower your business to ship products to customers around the world. It’s a great way for a small, local business to compete with it’s larger competitors.
By Pierce Glennie, Head of Marketing at iwoca


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