Business is more competitive than ever, and it’s particularly showing on our high streets: many units are now empty, as rates rise and companies are no longer able to afford their rent – or fight against their more powerful rivals. The solution for many – including Zavvi, Woolworths and countless other “failed” organisations – is to make a go of it online. The digital world is just as competitive, if not more so with price comparison facilities, though it’s a great option given the remarkable number of benefits a company can reap.
Recently, online electronics retailer Misco produced an infographic to highlight these plus points of a shift to online sales. The obvious one it pointed out was cost reduction, as less equipment, floor space and even fewer staff are needed; lower energy bills are also a huge plus point.
Meanwhile, IMRG, in association with Capgemini, reported that no less than 17 per cent of the UK’s retail market is now based online, with sales through internet transactions accounting for £77 billion in 2012. This is largely due to the convenience of shopping online. Over half of people polled in a survey by MyHigh.st said they save both time and money by shopping online.
Online is associated with better deals, too, making it a no-brainer for companies that want to make the big switch – so long as they are willing to follow the trend with their own wares. Recent Rackspace research discovered that nearly one-third of smartphone shoppers use promotional codes that save money. What’s more, it’s also the home of specialist items found nowhere else; target markets can be reached in a way that a bricks-and-mortar shop could never originally succeed with.
So, if you’re going to move a business online, what must you prioritise? Firstly, you need to establish a business plan. Luckily, this is easily done with the right people; consider consulting the Prince’s Trust, as it offers a free resource pack to help you start.
Of course, it’s important to find what your unique selling point is. As online space gets more crowded every day, you need to focus on something that is truly better than the rest – with the possible guarantee that you could also deliver your product faster and cheaper than the rest.
Most of the important tasks surround the website. Pick the right domain name, set up social media pages and get your website right first time. Free platforms such as WordPress and Joomla exist to help you out, while you could find expert designers on websites such as freelancer.com.
Ultimately, remember: keep things simple. Business owners often want to diversify early on, but it’s important to focus on the core business and deliver the best satisfaction to customers.