Not too long ago, starting up a business entailed a whole different scenario to what you can expect today. You’d choose a product to specialise in, open up a small store, see how things went and expand if there was high customer demand. But now, there’s a whole lot more competition out there.
Why? Well, setting up a business is (in theory) a much easier affair thanks to the web. It seems like almost anyone can set up a store with a few clicks of their mouse. But to succeed in online business is pretty difficult. The majority of online businesses fail within their first year, and there are very few that make profits for more than five years.
So, how do you get your online business up and running on the best foot possible? Here are a few things that you really need to consider in order to get your business off the ground and thriving for as long as possible.
Before you make any major steps towards building your business up, you need to understand your potential customers. After all, when it comes to running a business, your success revolves majoritively on one group of people: the consumer market. No matter how much money, time, and effort you pour into your business and the products and services that it offers, everything is wasted if you don’t know exactly who you’re selling to and what they want. The better you understand consumers, the more closely you can cater to their tastes, wants, and needs. This will result in more sales and increased levels of customer satisfaction.
So, how do you go about achieving this? Well, market research is a good place to start. Market research is one of the most valuable tools out there when it comes to placing your company in the current field of competition and working out why consumers opt for your brand or another brand. It is the process of collecting valuable data which will let you know whether or not there’s a market for what you intend to sell, where customers currently go for it and what would cause them to sway from their current supplier and opt to use your company instead.
Generally speaking, business owners tend to turn to market research in times of difficulty later down the line: when sales have dipped, or previously loyal customers are filtering off to a new competitor in the field. But why wait until this point? By conducting market research before launching your online store, you are giving yourself the best foot up possible. You should then continue using it to improve upon your company and its image. There are various types of market research that you can engage with. Some you can carry out yourself, others you will be better outsourcing or bringing in freelance specialists. Let’s start with the former. To conduct your own market research, all that you have to do is scour the web, researching expansive studies on things like major consumer trends, new competitor brands in the field, and much more.
For more in-depth and personalised market research, you will want to use a market research agency or specialist. They will already have plenty of volunteers or other consumers in their books to contact in regards to carrying out the research. Methods such as surveys, questionnaires, seminars, and focus groups tend to be used the most often and work pretty well. Whether you carry out your research yourself or allow it to be carried out by others, remember to record all data collected. This will help you to understand why consumers opt for one brand over another and what determines the sway in their choice. You can then implement this into your own business plan as a means of brand improvement. It can also be reused later down the line as a reference, so keep it on file!
Effective company branding can make or break a business. Just bear in mind that branding is the main thing affecting how the consumer market sees you, your products and the services that you have to offer. So this really is an area where you can help bring your company to the forefront. Chances are that by now you have a brand name in mind. But it’s always worth double checking that this is exactly what you want to go by.
It needs to be short, catchy and memorable. It should be easy to spell, as nowadays more and more people take to search engines to find products or companies, so having a simple to spell name will allow them to find you more easily. Next on the list is an eye-catching logo. Your logo should reflect your brand’s aesthetic, ethics, products and service. That’s a lot of information to visually communicate through a simple brand logo, but it is possible. The best way to make a success of it, though, is to work hand in hand with an experienced graphic designer who will be able to advise you as to what will best work for your brand.
This individual should have plenty of experience, so check up on their reviews and ask to see a portfolio of their work. This isn’t pushy or intrusive. It’s industry standard, so don’t feel awkward requesting these things before striking up a deal. Most will be proud to show off their previous ventures! Finally, you need to settle on a typeface for your brand name. This will be used in all sorts of areas, from storefront signs to advertising and your webpage header.
It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to web design. Many business owners mistakenly think that the process is as simple as Now, in your branding process, you’ve probably collaborated with a graphic designer who will have created a logo for your brand, as we’ve just mentioned. Ask this person to send you the original files of the designs. This will allow you to proceed to the next step of your journey (designing your web page) smoothly. Once you’re feeling good and ready to go, contact a freelance web designer. There are seemingly endless individuals with this job title out there, so you should take your time and pick wisely. Again, look for references, recommendations, and examples of impressive previous work.
When you’re starting out, make sure that you have a thorough consultation to establish exactly what you want and need from them. Send them your logo, as this will give them a springboard to base their design on. From this alone, they can draw out a colour scheme and a feel for your brand’s aesthetic. They can also incorporate the logo and font into key parts of your page. Once your design is as you want it to be, ensure that it is optimised for smartphone and tablet use. While people may have solely accessed the internet from their desktop computers and laptops not too long ago, the use of tablets and smartphones to shop online is on the rise.
Your website needs to accommodate for this trend if you want your products and services to be as widely available and easily accessible as possible. This will result in increased exposure, sales, and profits. Remember that over 2.1 billion people in the world have smartphones, so just think of all of the potential sales you could lose out on by simply having poor mobile web design! Go beyond simply ensuring that your site can be accessed by these alternative devices. You should also guarantee that your products are displayed in the best light and that navigation between products, product images, and product descriptions is smooth and effective.
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and once your site is up and running, its significance will dramatically increase. When buyers are looking for specific products, they will more often than not turn to search engines, so you want to ensure that your site and offerings are as high on the results list as possible.
This will direct more traffic to your webpage, and at the end of the day, more traffic generally means more sales and a higher profit margin. For help with SEO, employ the help of a specialist such as David Carralón who runs his SEO consultancy with precision and professional flair.
Once your page is designed and ready to go, and you know full well how to land it high in search results, it’s time to start stocking it. However, content creation requires a little more time, thought, and expertise than simply taking a couple of photos on your phone and mustering up a simple description. Images and words sell! So collaborate with product photographers and copywriters who will be able to make almost anything you list come across as appealing as possible.
Believe it or not, these are just a few different areas that you need to consider. But the more time and effort you put into these basics, the more profitable and long-lasting your online business will be. This will give you the time to focus on smaller areas as you progress!