The Internet is here to stay, and most savvy business owners are adjusting their practices accordingly. If you have a business of your own and have decided it’s high time to get it on the Internet, here are some general questions that can help you prepare for a productive, efficient entry into the world of online commerce.
1. Do you want online sales to become a significant part of your income?
This is not a pie-in-the-sky question. You should base your answer on the nature of your products and/or services. Certain products lend themselves more readily to online sales than others. If your product is difficult to sell via the Internet, (e.g. if it is expensive, if first-hand experience is integral to the purchasing decision) you should build a website that guides potential customers to your physical outlet rather than one that attempts to make the “hard sell” online.
2. How many resources (and how much time) can you spend on Internet marketing?
You should assess honestly the skills, time, and resources that your company has available to devote to building and maintaining a website. It’s a lucky business owner who happens to have the perfect blend of resources ready to hand when he or she decides to take to the Internet! If you recognize any shortcomings your business has at this early stage and shore them up before proceeding, your website will get built faster and more effectively.
3. Do you need professional help?
When you’re looking at the tools you’ll need in your online marketing arsenal, you have to decide whether you need education, staff, or consultants. If your own Internet know-how is pretty robust, simply taking the time to learn a little more may be enough to equip you for the job ahead. On the other hand, if you can tell already that your website will need plenty of constant attention, it may be a good idea to hire someone to handle it full-time. If you just need a helping hand to launch your website and set up your marketing efforts, hiring a part-time consultant is probably your most cost-effective choice.
4. Are You ready for a different kind of customer service?
Finally, you should prepare yourself mentally for dealing with customers through the Internet. Customer service is just as important online as it is in the physical world, but it needs to be provided in a different way. Speedy responses will be prized by online customers. Initiative is also a great way to satisfy your Internet patrons. If you can anticipate their needs and take steps to satisfy them before they have a chance to voice them, you’ll be well on your way to developing online customer loyalty.