‘Why should I bring my business online?’ That’s a question that many business owners have been asking for years.
2020 has brought many challenges and online shopping has become a necessity with countries going in and out of lockdown and ‘non-essential’ outlets being forced to close.
In Ireland, the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that only 32% of the 248,344 SMEs in the country can process a sale through a website or social media page.
Developing an online presence has become essential in 2020. We have outlined some steps to getting started below.
Social Media for Business
This is the most basic step in setting up your online offering. Think of your social media page as your new shop window. There’s plenty of platforms to choose from here. Facebook and Instagram would be the go-to sites for retail businesses but you can also look at Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok and others. If you’re operating a B2B company then LinkedIn may be the best for you.
This will open a lot more avenues for you. At this stage, social media users expect to see products on their timeline and your page can bring your products to a whole new audience. Facebook and Instagram even have eCommerce capabilities included on their platform so you can make sales online without even having a website.
Setting up your social media page also opens up social media advertising for your business. Traditional advertising methods such as print and radio might be good to get footfall into your store but if you’re selling online then you should be advertising online too.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all have really powerful advertising platforms that allow you to target effectively by location, interests, age and other demographics. We have found that ROI can be much higher here compared to the traditional methods we mentioned.
We have several social media advertising guides on our blog.
A website brings another dimension to your business. Straightaway it adds another layer of credibility to your business and you will become more visible to potential customers thanks to Google’s search engine results page and local search on Google Maps.
When setting up your eCommerce site, it’s important to take into account the user experience and search engine optimisation (SEO). Your website should make it as easy as possible for consumers to navigate and buy your product or service. This takes into account page layouts and more simple things like image quality and the user checkout journey.
SEO is an umbrella term that takes into account the processes that improve your site’s visibility on search engine results pages e.g. Google. This is a long term strategy. Without advertising or an integrated promotion across social media pages your website will be very hard to find in the opening few months after your site goes live. Think of things like relevant keywords, page speed and website linking here. Sites like Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest will help you get your foot on the SEO ladder.
Developing an online retail presence, particularly an eCommerce site, is not straightforward. Thankfully there are plenty of schemes and grants to help you get started. The Trading Online Voucher and Enterprise Ireland’s Online Retail Scheme are two that come to mind.
We have worked on many of these projects before and can help you get your eCommerce website up and running.
Setting up an online retail presence is crucial for business in 2020 and beyond. It has the potential to open your business up to a whole new audience and having an online sales channel will help your business to thrive in the future.