If you run an offline business, no doubt you’ve heard plenty of talk about taking your business online. Perhaps you have even considered establishing an online presence, but then decided it was too complicated or not worth the investment.
The truth is that in this online era, if you want your business to grow then you can’t afford not to be present online. But fortunately, it’s easier than ever to get started. Here are eight reasons why you should bring your offline business online.
1. A Better Company Image
When a potential customer wants to know more about your company, where are they going to look? The internet. Without your own website, blog or social media profiles, people may question the legitimacy of your business. If they begin to browse your competitors and find one with a professional website, it’s unlikely they’ll give you a second thought.
It doesn’t matter how big or small you are; an online presence will reassure people that you are serious about doing business with them. It also tells them a lot about who you are, what you stand for, and how you can help them.
2. Global Reach
A brick-and-mortar business is great for reaching the local market, but it’s heavily limited. Whether people are purchasing goods or services, they must travel to you to make it happen.
Imagine how many more people you could reach if you could be discovered by anyone, anywhere in the world. Even if you can only service the local market, there is untapped potential in the global market. How so? Take the example of a florist who, by setting up a website, can take orders from people hundreds or thousands of miles away, for delivery to someone nearby. With an online payment gateway, the transaction can be made quickly and securely from anywhere in the world.
While this sounds good in theory, we should add that simply having a website doesn’t mean the orders or leads will start flooding in. A lot depends on how well you market your business too. A blog is a good place to start, and you’ll want to get to grips with content marketing and local SEO so that people can discover your business when searching online. Social media is also a powerful tool for helping people connect with your company, and it doesn’t require much investment (in fact you can get a long way without spending a thing).
3. Low Start-up Costs
Of course, some investment is needed to construct a website and start selling, but it doesn’t come close to the cost of renting a building and fitting it out. Ongoing maintenance costs are also comparatively low.
If you already have an established offline business, then expanding online simply means a new source of customers. Over time you can look at adding a wider range of products or services for your online audience, once you understand more about demand in your market.
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that a good website needs to be technical and expensive, but that’s really not the case. There are plenty of great website-building tools which let you set up a custom online store with very little technical expertise. Start out simple, and then work out where it’s worth spending a little more time and money.
Also don’t think that you have to do everything yourself. Although this will keep your costs low, it may not be the best use of your time. Some things, such as social media marketing and content writing, maybe worth outsourcing to an expert.
Starting out from scratch, you should budget from several hundred to several thousand dollars. This includes basic expenses such as web hosting, a domain, an eCommerce platform, and an email tool.
4. Online payments
If people still have to visit your physical location to make use of your services, you may wonder what value there is in being able to accept payments online. Well, it’s all about securing the deal while the customer’s interest is piqued. They might see a great offer on your website but if there’s nothing making them commit until they visit your premises in person, you’re giving them a lot of cooling-off time. Give them a way to purchase right there and then, and it’ll do wonders for your conversion.
5. Improved Customer Service
With a little time spent up-front, your website can answer a lot of your customers’ questions and solve their problems, without them ever having to contact you.
Here are a few ideas:
- A sales webinar to inform potential clients about your product or service
- An FAQs page to help with buying decisions
- A ‘How-to’ video to offer post-sales customer support
Not only will these save you time in the long run, but they will give your customers a better experience. After all, if you have a problem with a product you bought, would you rather call a customer service line or watch a two-minute video to get the solution?
You still need to provide traditional customer care, of course, but using your website in this way means you’ll spend much less time answering the same questions day in, day out.
6. Lower Overheads
Reducing customer service costs is just one benefit of having an online presence. Similar savings can be made on administration, salespeople, and business overheads. Fewer staff, after all, means not just fewer salaries to pay, but also less office space and other associated costs.
Look at it another way: having many of your processes automated online means a greater percentage of your revenue turning into profit, especially as your business grows. Data input and customer service are two of the biggest areas for potential savings. It’s also easier to integrate with other systems like stock management and order fulfillment, making everything run more smoothly.
7. Better Responsiveness
With the right systems in place, you can confirm orders instantly and answer queries within minutes. Proposals and purchase orders can be delivered quickly and efficiently, lowering the risk of a potential client losing interest while they wait. All of this results in happier customers and higher conversion.
Plus, internal tools like automatic inventory tracking and stock replenishment mean less admin for you.
8. It’s What The Internet Was Made For
The internet has given online businesses access to customers all around the world; who knows how many of your potential clients are just a click away? Whatever your market, having an online presence will only serve to enhance your brand, reach more customers, and improve the experience of those who interact with you.
In the last few years alone, consumers have started to expect companies to have an online presence — and if they can’t find you online there are plenty of competitors ready to snap them up.
So, now you know some of the key benefits of taking your offline business online.
It may still feel daunting, but the good news is that there are more tools than ever available to help business owners move online and market their company to a new audience. And where you lack the expertise or time to do something yourself, you’ll have no problem finding a third-party service to fill that gap.
While you get your store up and running digitally, start accepting payments online with Dibsy. You can accept payments using SMS, WhatsApp, email, and social media. Ask us how!