The digital revolution is in full swing. As shopping continues its fast migration to computers and smartphones, you may decide it’s time to start selling your products and services online. If you’re considering moving into e-commerce, here are some things to consider.
Already have a web site? Put it to work
There are many reasons why your business could benefit from adding an online sales capability to your web site, but the main reason is the impact a user-friendly web site can have on your bottom line. A web site with online sales capabilities can attract new customers, expand your markets and increase sales.
Plan your move to e-commerce
Just as you created a business plan when you first started your business, making the move to e-commerce also requires some planning. Ask yourself a few basic questions:
- What are your technology needs? Is your web site compatible with adding e-commerce? Ask the company that hosts your site if it’s ready for online sales, or if there are certain requirements that would necessitate a design update.
- What kinds of resources will your business need? The doors of an online business are open 24/7; can you accommodate and assist customers from sales to service in a timely manner?
- How will you accept payments, and is your site secure? You must ensure that your web site can securely accept payments. Can your existing card processing provider deliver secure and easy ways to process payments through your website or will you have to outsource by using an online payment service such as PayPal?
- How will you fulfill orders? Are you going to pack and ship items yourself, or will you outsource your fulfillment operation?
Your plan should deal with every critical aspect of your online business. Not surprisingly, the internet has a wealth of information about starting and running an online business: check out entrepreneur.com, ecommerceconsulting.com, and allbusiness.com. Another great resource for small businesses of all kinds is sba.gov, the web site for the Small Business Administration.
Create your product catalog
Clear and professional-looking photographs of your products are essential to your online sales efforts. If you’re skilled with a camera, you can take photos of your products yourself. If photography isn’t your strong point, there are a number of companies that specialize in taking product photos for web sites. If you deal with wholesalers, ask them to provide professional photographs of their products.
Attract new customers to your site
Now that you’ve revamped your web site, you need to let customers and prospects know about your new online store. Most people won’t know the URL of your company’s web site, so they’ll use a web browser such as Google or Bing to find you. Make sure that your company’s name appears in the search results by using search engine optimization (SEO). If you aren’t familiar with SEO, it’s worth your time to do some research on this topic. A marketing plan that includes social media such as Facebook and Twitter is also a key component of any online business strategy. Depending on the kinds of products you’re selling, you can also investigate selling on social media sites like Pinterest or Instagram.
Clover Online Store
Hancock and Whitney Bank merchant services clients who have a Clover POS account have access to a toolkit that can create a secure web sales portal for your business: the Clover Online Store. Your company’s web site will be fully integrated with your Clover POS system. There’s a selection of professionally designed pre-built site templates to choose from, and Clover provides support during set up and after your site is running. Contact your merchant services account specialist for more information about the Clover Online Store.
E-commerce is here to stay
Web sites are ubiquitous for retail businesses in the 21st century, and there is every indication that online sales are only going to increase. If you’re not selling online, you could be missing out on an opportunity to grow your company, but you have to decide if it’s the right strategy for your business. For advice, guidance, or just someone who’ll listen, you can always talk with a Hancock or Whitney business banker. We’re ready to help your business grow and thrive.
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