Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, storefronts worldwide are having to make some big changes.
Larger retailers in particular have already started to ramp up their ecommerce capabilities; with many now providing even more options for shipping and curbside pickup.
For local, traditional businesses though, this transition to ecommerce may not seem so simple – but it can be. Your business can survive this transformation, but you must be willing to adapt and embrace all things digital.
To help you get started, here is a quick rundown of what you need to do and consider when moving your business online.
1. Setting Up an Online Store
Before you can make any sales online, you must first set up an online store to display your products and allow customers to make purchases.
If you’ve never done this before, don’t panic! No matter how basic your website is, there are a ton of tools out there that can make setting up an online store simple and straightforward.
For WordPress Users
If your website was created with WordPress, the standard tool to use is the WooCommerce plugin. The great thing about using this plugin is that, in addition to helping you display your products, it can also help you manage everything behind the scenes including:
- Payment processing
- Inventory management
While there are other plugins that can perform similar functions, WooCommerce is the most popular and simple to use.
Not on WordPress? No Problem
If you are not on WordPress, you won’t be able to use the WooCommerce plugin. However, there are still ways that you can create an online shopping experience for your customers.
One way to do that is to extend your website by creating a “microsite” that is connected to an ecommerce service. Common ecommerce service providers are:
All of these platforms allow you to list your products online for sale. They can also help you with taxes, payment processing, and other management tasks.
2. Listing Your Products / Services
Listing your products and services will likely be the most time-consuming part of getting your online store ready to go. However, it is the most important step.
Like any storefront window, how you present each of your products in your digital store can have a huge impact on sales.
Here are the key things each product listing should have:
- Great photos– try to take a variety of product-focused and customer-oriented photos to give shoppers an idea of what they can expect. You do not necessarily need to hire a professional photographer for this – check out these tips from HubSpot where you can learn how to take great product photos yourself.
- Brief product description – the best product descriptions are brief, accurate, and clearly state the benefits of the product to the customer. If you’re not quite sure how to do this, Shopify provides some examples and tips for writing great product descriptions.
- Pricing information – potential customers want to know up front how much a product will cost. When listing each product, make sure that the price, any taxes, and minimum shipping fees are clearly reflected in the price.
- Sizing information – we all know what it’s like to order a product online, only to find out that it’s much larger/smaller in real life than what we expected. Make sure that you include the product’s size, weight, and dimensions – this not only prevents customer disappointment, but it can also help when determining shipping costs.
- Quantity available – it is important to give shoppers an idea of product availability. This is particularly helpful for those looking to buy multiple quantities of a certain item. In addition to that, it can also help motivate buyers to make a purchase if there are only a few items left.
- Positive reviews – positive reviews are great for driving sales. However, they must come from your customers and they must be authentic. Encourage your customers to leave a review each time they make a purchase. This will help your reviews naturally grow over time.
3. Shipping and Delivery
When it comes to product or service delivery, there are many different options that will depend on your product/service type, industry, and location.
If your business serves a local market – for example you have a restaurant or flower shop, you may want to consider offering a “curb side pickup” option for customers. You can also work with local delivery companies to ensure that your product gets where it needs to go.
If you have the potential to sell your products to a broader market, it is quite easy to connect your online store to Canada Post or to UPS. This service can help you calculate the actual shipping costs for each order that can then be passed on to the customer.
4. Payment Processing
Online payment processing systems are simpler and safer now than ever before.
With the help of third-party services like Stripe and PayPal, you do not need to worry about the security of payments and all of the required coding is done for you. Payments can also be automatically deposited into your bank account on a daily or weekly basis; helping you maintain a healthy cashflow from your online sales.
5. Bookkeeping and Accounting
Managing the accounting and bookkeeping side of an online store is often a main concern – but it shouldn’t be.
All ecommerce solutions come with accurate reporting, invoicing, and tax collection summaries. That means you likely will not need to set up any new workflows outside of your normal accounting and bookkeeping processes. For many business owners, it’s as simple as handing a one-page report to their accountant or finance manager to make sure the books stay current and the government gets their fair share.
Digital transformation is here, and it will be here long after Covid-19. In order to survive this transition, it is crucial for businesses to rethink how they serve their customers. Whether that’s creating an online store or implementing a new delivery method, embracing digital is the best way to ensure your small business thrives in this new normal.
If you need help or direction with creating an online store, please do not hesitate to give us a shout at Modev Media to see how we can help.
If you already have an online store and are looking for new ways to promote and encourage online sales – keep your eyes peeled for our next article that will be about just that!