The number of businesses conducted online has registered an exponential increase in the last decade. More and more conventional brick and mortar business houses are presenting themselves online too. Such is the power of the Internet. No one can afford not being online anymore, after all one can even buy a car online these days!
So, what exactly goes into starting an online business? We have the answers for you...to learn how to run any business successfully, it's a good idea to take business classes. Luckily, you can take these online as well!
An online business is no different from conducting an offline business, except the points of display, advertising and sales are all on the Internet. This calls for the following:
- Identify your products and services. It is highly essential that it is viable for selling the products and services you wish to deal in through online business. Avoid delicate and perishable items - not only do these increase your wastage and associated costs, it also takes up your space and resources meant for other products and services that you can sell well and make money.
- Have an up-to-date technology infrastructure. Considering that it is improvisation in technology that makes conducting business online possible, it is only natural that the technology you use should be up to date and should be deployed having considered a reasonable time for usage and growth of your business. To that end, make sure to purchase adequate capacity and definitely a little more than what you will require immediately.
Arrange for sufficient backup of your website and multiple sites to provide a backbone to the network in case your main servers fail for some reason. Always have a dedicated team of people monitoring and keeping the technology infrastructure up and running at all times round the clock. Remember, the success of online businesses depend upon their availability around the clock to people in as many parts of the world as possible.
- Have adequate back-end setup and infrastructure. Put in place a good system and chain of people for running your business. Since this is mostly online and your customers do not necessarily need to see your staff, you could consider locating your people at different locations thereby reducing establishment costs.
- Have a reliable and helpful support infrastructure. This could be before or after a sale. This goes a long way in instilling faith, confidence and trust in your business. To this end, establish a call-center and online support system that functions around the clock. Provide a discussion forum on your website so people can view it before they come making inquiries or complaining to you.
- Make it easy in and easy out. An easy and hassle-free shopping experience will guarantee return customers and repeat orders. Ensure to sell at lesser than market rates, throw in freebies and add-ons to products purchased. Offer to compare online the competing and similar products free of cost; allow quick purchases, multiple payment systems such as direct bank debit, credit card payments, payments through PayPal and other popular mechanisms. Give them the multiple choices to transact on your website.
- Have a reliable system for transactions. It is essential for your customers to impose trust, confidence and faith in your online business. To achieve this, make arrangements to deliver on time through efficient fulfillment and logistics networks. State your terms and conditions for transactions in an easy to read format. Live up to promises made here. Make arrangements to receive payments accurately, to make refunds on time and keep a whistle-clean financial system.
These steps should help you begin your online business successfully. You'll also want to take periodic refresher business courses online, so you can stay up-to-date with the latest innovations.