Several retail stores have closed a number of their physical locations, and instead have focused their efforts on having a larger presence online. In your own field, you may also notice a similar shift in buying habits, as more customers show preferences for buying online instead of in physical store locations.
With this trend in mind, consider whether you’re maximizing your business’ potential at your physical locations, or if either going completely online or adding online business to your in-store operations would be more beneficial.
Considerations for Moving Your Business Online
Businesses looking to lower their overhead costs or have location independence may consider moving their brick-and-mortar business online.
Depending on your business, an online-only presence could help if you’re looking to reduce expenses, such as overhead costs associated with having employees or leasing a store location. This can lead to more positive cash flow that you can use to reinvest in other areas of the business, such as your website or online support.
Location independence is another consideration when thinking about bringing your business online. Not only do online business owners and their teams have the freedom to work from virtually anywhere, but they also have the potential to expand their customer base beyond those in a set number of locations.
Of course, businesses that find success by maintaining physical locations may not want to move their entire operations online. Perhaps their target customers are located in a certain number of defined regions. However, many businesses also find success by maintaining a mixture or physical locations along with some type of online presence.
If you’ve considered your options and it makes sense to shift either all or some of your business online, take a look at some important components of successful online businesses.
Get a website.
Being online means having a website, and your business should make this a priority if it doesn’t already have one. You may also want to consider hosting services, website support, and any functionality you want your business website to have that positively impacts the customer experience, such as a shopping cart or chat feature.
Take payments online.
Fewer people are using cash to pay for goods and services. According to the most recent U.S. Consumer Payment Study, 40 percent of the people surveyed said they prefer credit as a payment method, 35 percent prefer debit, and only 11 percent opt for cash.
For business owners, this means they need to be able to process debit and credit card payments. There are several credit card processors that you can choose from in order to start accepting these kinds of payments straight from your website.
Use an online client relationship manager.
An online client relationship manager can help you and your sales staff keep track of leads, customer notes, and what customers have purchased.
Depending on the size of your business, you may want to consider using an all-in-one system that comes complete with email marketing and e-commerce functionalities. It can help you keep track of everything in the customer process – from what someone clicked on in an email to what’s already been purchased. Additionally, this type of system can help you scale and increase revenue by sending out automatic follow-ups to prospects and upsell tactics to customers.
Moving your business online can help you save money, run more efficiently, and have more flexibility. Even if you can't move your entire business online, there are several ways to incorporate online business management into your current structure.