Exceptional times usually call for exceptional measures and the world of business is adapting its business model in every effort not to let the current pandemic over impact on sales and revenue. This applies to businesses of all shapes and sizes however economic reports are showing that smaller businesses are needing to diversify their sales model more than most to survive.
For a number of smaller more niche businesses, the traditional source of orders from events such as regular trade shows and exhibitions have disappeared for the foreseeable future impacting a large portion of income. Not only do these key events help forge new business relationships, they also build brand awareness and help you to identify new marketing and sales opportunities much needed for business growth.
Given that these types of events are not going to be happening any time soon, what can smaller businesses do to grow their business online?
Some smaller businesses may not have yet taken the leap into the world on selling online and others may simply have an online presence for enquiries. Adapting a business model to allow for effective online selling need not be a daunting task and could mean the difference to business success and failure over the remainder of 2020.
Here we have some excellent tips to help smaller businesses get ready for effective online selling.
1. Choose the right ecommerce platform for your website
Now may be the time to migrate to an effective ecommerce platform. Shopify and BigCommerce are both affordable and current offering extended 90-day free trials. While you might imagine this to be a massive technological undertaking, building a website can actually be pretty simple.
Plus, it’s unlikely to break the bank – domain names tend to cost less than £10 per year, while many website builders can be paid for with manageable monthly subscriptions once they kick in.
Plenty of ecommerce platform solutions to choose from which are not only affordable to SMEs but offer all of the ecommerce trading plug-ins and extensions which allow you to:
- Accurately reflect your business brand creatively online
- Have an intuitive search functionality and page layout
- Offer comprehensive product listing pages, product imagery and descriptions
- Allow businesses to provide good search filters and navigation
- Offer relevant payment options to your customers
- Provide a comprehensive and secure checkout
- Integrate seamlessly with your email service provider
- Integrate with your warehouse for fulfilment if your business requires this
2. Hone your product descriptions and photography
Successful online selling is supported by crafting strong product descriptions and using the right imagery. Keep the information clear about your products, your services, how you’re going to deliver it, what you’ll do if something goes wrong. If you communicate all this to your customer, it gives you an advantage. Don’t ever leave a question unanswered on your products or your information, because anything like that will become a barrier to sell.
3. Create outstanding customer service
The customer experience online should be just as seamless as offline. If you want a customer to buy from you, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible for them by offering different payment methods, different shipping methods and different ways of the customer being able to contact you. The key here is to be as flexible as you can.
And while it’s best to have a telephone number visible on the website, an email address can also work well. Online chat however, is now the most used method of customer contact across all ecommerce websites. More than half of all customers prefer to chat with someone in real-time and online, rather than call a company for support.
This type of instant communication has changed the way companies interact with their customers. The great news is that there are a wide variety of free live chat tools that you can easily implement into your site for an additional contact option.
4. Foster a sense of your community online
As new brands continue to enter the market each day and compete for the same online consumers, you have to do what you can to differentiate yourself and prove to people that you’re different. That you care. That you’re willing to listen. That you aren’t just interested in selling products. That you’re committed to establishing and nurturing real relationships with the people you’re trying to serve. Think about your customer groups, what’s important to them and how your products can help them and can have a positive impact in the world.
On your website the best place to foster your community online is through a blog. Here you can show content that shows how you understand what your customers are interested in, what incentivizes them to engage, and how your brand can help both directly and indirectly. The key here is to keep it human and conversational as you would if you were talking to a customer directly.
5. Welcome feedback, reviews and build your reputation online
Customers more likely to make a purchase if others around us—even total strangers—agree that it is a good decision. Today, online reviews are the biggest source of social proof, and they have a clear impact on sales. Product reviews are critical when selling online as they not only make your more visible, but they show that you are trustworthy and they expand the conversation and noise the market is making around your products. Allowing customers to read reviews on your products is essential to help them make their buying decision. And remember even some ‘negative’ product reviews may be positive for others. What’s important is to openly address any negative reviews you receive regarding any customer service issue. That way people don’t mind mistakes as long as they know it will be addressed and rectified.
6. Translate your personalised customer experiences online
One sure fire way to increase your online conversion rate and online sales revenue is through ecommerce personalisation. Ecommerce personalisation is the closest way online that you can offer that 1-2-1 personalised shopping experience that you would personally give direct to a customer. It’s about making the experience relevant and personalised in real-time ensuring you can ensure you’re showing the right product or promotion to the right person, at just the right time, turning potential browsers into buyers and in time turning those buyers into loyal brand advocates.
It’s all very well spending money driving new customers to your website but they key to a good ROI is ensuring that those visitors convert into loyal customers. Intelligent and completely affordable platforms such as PureClarity are currently offering all customers an extended 90 day free trial. You can start a trial by visiting www.pureclarity.com
7. Take advantage of the new software free trial offerings
Selling online doesn’t have to be an expensive affair. Shop around to trial new technology within your website. Many software companies are currently offering extended 90 day free trials of their products which allows you to see what works best for your business absolutely free of charge allowing you to build a great tech stack. These free trials which are usually only available for 14 days include ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce, on page tracking like Hotjar, customer review software, free live chat solutions, ecommerce personalisation to offer an improved and more relevant online shopping experience, free email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, social media marketing platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer.