Having a strong digital presence is essential to online selling. If customers can’t easily find you, how can they buy your products?
It’s not quite so straightforward, though. For small businesses facing the disruption of COVID-19, the prospect of building a successful e-commerce presence can be daunting. Prior to the outbreak, many smaller firms were generating only a minority of sales from e-commerce.
Rapid economic changes triggered by the coronavirus have turned ‘business as usual’ on its head. With entire communities going into lockdown and non-essential stores closed, small businesses found themselves rushing to expand their online presence—or, in some instances, create it overnight.
The first step to e-commerce success is building a solid foundation for your digital operation. Fortunately, there are many third-party e-commerce tools and solutions on the market to help with this. Here at jumpstartcreatives.com we were inspired to developed an efficient, manageable and economical e-commerce solution for small to medium enterprise (SMEs) that aims to maximise their online presence.
You can easily checkout our demo site at https://ecom.jumpstartcreatives.com to give you an idea on what solution and online position you want to your target market.
It’s easy to quickly maximise your visibility when doing business online. But this won’t happen by itself. You need to be constantly building your online presence.
There are different ways of achieving this. While marketing through your company website is an important element, it takes time to grow traffic. To get the word out fast, you need to promote your products across other channels too.
Of course, it isn’t all sweetness and light. With online marketplaces, you don’t own the customer data nor is it easy to customize the user experience for your brand. Also, if you operate only on one channel and your account is suspended or closed, your line of revenue is gone.
So, which online marketplaces are right for your business? Not all channels are created equal. Take pricing, for example. While some marketplaces are very price competitive, others offer more room for margin, says Pick.
It’s all about the marketplace dynamic. Larger, more mature marketplaces tend to offer smooth selling processes for merchants and strong potential for international sales. The challenge here is differentiating your products and getting eyeballs on your listings.
Meanwhile, some marketplaces are still scaling up. This may mean they offer a favorable buyer-to-seller ratio in your product category. Other platforms are particularly selective about the sellers they accept. Once you’re approved, however, these marketplaces can quickly develop into key revenue streams for your business.
And then there are the social media platforms that we more commonly associate with posting and sharing with our friends and followers. But what about selling on social? Several of these social media channels are fast developing into solid e-commerce platforms that you should seriously consider listing on.
So, you’ve secured a new online customer and you’ve fulfilled the order. Job done, right? Wrong. You now need to develop that initial sale into a meaningful, long-term relationship.
As with any relationship in life, communication is key. But knowing how to communicate with customers online doesn’t always come easily. Many small businesses find digital communication hard and avoid it altogether—unless absolutely needed.
Indeed, it’s particularly important to communicate with your clients during the current pandemic. Your customers are your best advocates, and they want to know how your business is responding to the crisis. Now more than ever people want to feel part of a community.
So what kind of messages should you be sending customers? Keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Let them know how you’re giving back to the community. Tell them about any promotions or discounts you might be offering. Update them on operational changes, such as curbside pick-up or your returns policy. And take inspiration from the messages other companies, including competitors, are sending to their customers.
Keep your email strategy under close review in the weeks and months ahead. Assess open and clickthrough rates carefully. Run split testing—where you send out a modified version of the original message to monitor for performance differences—when crafting and tweaking campaigns.
Just remember to strike a human tone in your messages. How you’d normally talk about your product to somebody in person is how you should address your customers through email. Online communication is here to stay, says Whitfield, and there’s no better time to get good at it than now. Feel empowered to own your tone.