The Reality is...
It takes time, patience and effort. It will not happen overnight. This is the reality.The answer is: Yes it is well worth the effort and time spent and you can be a success at it. If it is done right, the reward and growth to your business far outweighs the effort. And if you choose not to do e-commerce, think of the potential loss in business that your competitors are getting from YOU because you are not selling online.At the start you may not see traffic or sales from your site, but there are steps you can take to start building visitor traffic and generating sales through your online store. You should use your online business as a tool for your offline marketing. Ecommerce is really a part of the marketing mix. In today’s business - your customers expect you to have a website. So why not use that to your advantage?
Setup an online storeMost companies are moving web site development in house at a fraction of the cost of the old days when you had to outsource. You simply need three things: a domain name, a hosting service and a good easy to use all inclusive ecommerce software package that includes the shopping cart functions.
Building your siteSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is the term used for ensuring your website content is ranked on search engines. You may need to do a little research on how to properly build your site content. As it takes time to get listed on search engines, you can build as you go. Start out with a limited number of optimized pages and products on your site to get going and add more over time as you can.
Online marketing tipOnce your website is up you can start to submit to directories and small business community websites. The idea is to get your website listed so there is a link back to your website that the search engines can find. This will help with your rankings on search engines over time. Also search for “related partner companies” who may be willing to exchange links on their site with your site, this is called “referral linking”.
Offline marketingRemember your online business is part of the marketing mix. By developing an online store, you can both streamline how your customers interact with you for ordering and you can use your offline material to promote your online business. Make sure you use your website on all your marketing material – IE: Business cards, brochures, flyers – and email marketing! If you have account customers who fax you orders, you can then start directing them to the online store for ordering –making your order processing a whole lot easier. You can run specials for your website and market those specials for a limited time to promote your current customer base to your website. Or, you can offer online voucher discounts for clearance items. The main idea is to look at your current business base and find the opportunities to promote your website to them for streamlining and reducing your marketing costs to them. Obviously, your website is your lowest cost solution for advertising to your customers.
- Ecommerce success is an ongoing learning initiative you can do as you go. Take the time to search and read about other opportunities in online and offline marketing – you never know what you might find that will be useful to your business.
- As you have time, look into promoting your business on eBay, Google Base – these other online stores can provide synergy to your online business growth.
- Make sure your website is clean for your customers – an unprofessional looking site and too much clutter will distract them.