In the age of the internet, people have the power to run their businesses in all sorts of new ways that would have been unfathomable even thirty years ago. Websites only continue to develop new and innovative ways to run businesses even more efficiently. If your business does not already have some kind of online presence, you need to start working on that. Internet-savvy businesses consistently perform better than those who do not have an online presence.
How can moving your business online help you? Moving your business online provides opportunities to reach a broader customer base to generate more sales and build a brand reputation by leveraging online advertising and an online store. It will also provide access to a wider, experienced, and cheaper remote talent pool.
Here are ten ways that adding an online branch to your small business can help it grow and prosper.
1. Advertising Opportunities
Before the internet, advertising seemed impossibly expensive sometimes. The cheapest thing you could do was make flyers and post them around town. However, the internet has changed that. Social media advertising is some of the most effective marketing that the human race has ever come up with, and the best part is that it is free. However, social media is not the only form of internet-exclusive advertising. Another example is commissioning an SEO company to help boost your company’s website in search engines. There are so many advertising opportunities online that it may be difficult deciding where to begin.
2. Sales Numbers
As mentioned above, if a business has a strong online presence, it will likely perform better than a business that does not. This is partially due to the usage of advertising techniques, like the ones detailed previously, but that is not all. The convenience of online shopping is a luxury that a constantly increasing number of people are taking advantage of. Instead of having to deal with unwanted social interaction, potential health risks, or unhelpful store clerks, it is much more enjoyable to log in to your computer or phone and shop from wherever you want.
3. Working Online
Whether you have employees or you work alone, you cannot deny the convenience of working online instead of in a physical location. If you can get away with moving your entire business online, it is becoming increasingly rewarding to do so. Online businesses do not have to pay rent, hire janitorial services, or keep up with most general office duties. Your employees will be incredibly grateful if you allow them to work from home, and you will likely be grateful to yourself too. Working from home is amazing for company morale, and you should consider it if it is viable for you.
4. Reputation Building
Your reputation as a business is incredibly important. After all, if your customer base does not have a positive opinion of you, they will not buy from you. The internet has made customer relations and, therefore, building your reputation, is simpler than ever. Social media is not only a tool for advertising but also for public relations. Make sure to always interact with your clients, especially if they have complaints or concerns. Returning customers make up a massive percentage of your business, so cultivating a culture of customer loyalty is incredibly important.
5. Online Store
For some businesses, it is more practical to keep running a physical store than to switch totally to online, but even if you cannot sustain a fully online business, it still benefits you to start an online store in many situations. There are tons of online resources and website designers that can make helpful and creative interfaces for you and your customers to use. The process is not difficult. People create websites for their merchandise all the time. Even small, independent business owners frequently set up good-looking and functional websites to increase their sales beyond what a physical store could achieve.
6. Complaint Box
A virtual comments and concerns box that is posted on your website and your social media pages is a great way to communicate with your customers. Most of the comments you get will be negative, that is something you will have to deal with. However, if you make it a point to respond to all of the comments you get and address as many of them as possible, your customers will be appreciative. If you plan on addressing a particular concern, make sure to reach out to the person who brought it to your attention to let him or her know that it has been solved.
7. Popular Trends
In the age of the internet, life moves faster than ever, and you need to keep up with everything going on to the best of your ability. This can seem impossible because of how much is going on around the internet all at once. If you have the resources available, consider hiring a young person who is an adept social media user. Young, tech-savvy people know how to keep up with the internet and all the latest trends better than most older folks do.
8. Company Networks
Most companies have at least embraced modern computers and the virtual networks that connect them. They are incredibly useful for instant communication between employees. However, while almost all companies use computers in some form, sometimes that usage is still very primitive. If your computers are not connected on a single network that supports sharing files and other information on a localized server, look into how you can implement that. It can be difficult for people who did not grow up in a world of digital technology to embrace that technology, but it is important to do so to be successful in the world of business.
9. New Employees
Because of how connected people are to each other now, it is easier than ever for companies to search for and find employees with specific qualifications that suit the requirements of the open position. There are dozens of websites dedicated to offering a space for job-seekers to post their resumes and companies to find them. On the other hand, there are also websites dedicated to companies posting job openings and then potential employees can seek them out. Use as many of these sites as possible to get the best odds of finding who you need, just make sure they are reputable sites first.
10. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is still in the relatively early stages of development. However, there are well-developed artificial intelligence programs that you can use for a variety of purposes. Search engine algorithms are some of the most common examples of this. Websites like Google and Facebook are well-known for using algorithms to learn about what each person is interested in seeing. Smaller websites can use this on a smaller scale. For example, if the program picks up that customers frequently purchase two items together, it might recommend the second product after a customer buys the first product.
Maintaining your business in a digital landscape is not simple. There are an essentially infinite number of things to keep track of if you want to run your company effectively from an online perspective, but as long as you are trying, you are likely to see an uptick in sales die to your website. Hiring extra help will always take some of the load off of your shoulders, so that should be your top priority if you are serious about expanding your business into an online format and potentially launching your business to levels of success you have not seen before.