By Nicky Felix, founder and owner of Box2
Before the internet came along, there were very few ways of conducting business that didn’t involve having everything there in front of you: from office or premises to product or service, business was a very tangible industry.
Although the dawn of ecommerce did not equal a sudden open door for all, in recent years its ease and accessibility has brought around a new era of retail, in which a healthy business can be established without many of the overheads that were associated with the traditional way of doing things.
This is not to say that it is easy, but there are far fewer hurdles along the way. Here are some top tips for setting up an online business and keeping it going strong.
Use what you have
Some entrepreneurs say that you don’t have to know anything about your industry to make a dent in it. While this may be true in some cases, when starting out on your first business venture, it would be wise to found it on your skills and passions.
Not only does this put you in the strongest position to know what you are getting into and make a good job of it, but it keeps you motivated during low points. If you haven’t yet decided where you belong on the business landscape, spidergram your interests and practical skills and see where they lead you.
Every year technology is making both buying and selling easier, so make sure you take advantage of every tech at your disposal. The majority of purchases are made online, so first step is making online purchasing a quick, easy and secure experience for the customer, accepting as many payment methods as possible (don’t forget PayPal and the various payment apps that are coming into play).
Also make sure that you invest in software packages that monitor customer activity: they help you create a profile of each individual customer, which can then turn out automatic product suggestions and deliver innovative service. Don’t forget to make sure your website is mobile optimised and search engine optimised for maximum effect.
Following on from the previous point, you should be looking out for any opportunity to make your customer feel special. If you were their partner, what would you do to make them feel appreciated, based on the knowledge you have gathered from them? Remembering their birthday and sending them a little acknowledgement, such as a voucher, is a great start.
Depending on your industry, there are any number of ways you can tailor to your customer. If it’s fashion, use data from their previous purchases to make outfit suggestions. It doesn’t take much, but customers hugely value being appreciated, and are far more likely to be loyal to you as a company if you make them feel that way.
Move with the times
Business, and the trends it goes by, moves fast, and if you want to survive you have to work hard to keep your head above water. Creativity and flexibility will go a long way if you are going to thrive in the long-term, and don’t forget to maintain your brand identity throughout any transitions you make.
Times may change, but customers will want to know that you are there, offering exactly the same service they love you for, so ride the waves and don’t sink.