So, you’ve decided to start an online business and five years from now you picture yourself sitting at a beach drinking your favorite beverage in Bahamas. Your financial worries are virtually gone because you just sold your multi-million dollar empire to large corporate company. Sounds good doesn’t it?
While some may think this sort of scenario is purely fiction, I would have to disagree. If you take the right steps from the start, your online business can reach great heights. First and foremost, you start out by offering something that people actually need or want to buy. Preferably in large quantities.
There is a lot of competition out there, so making your online business stick out is vital. I should know, I run a business supplying toner cartridges and office supplies to businesses and homes. Guess what – so do a lot of other people, but last year my sales figures hit a 900% increase from when I first started out so I’m beginning to believe that I’m doing something right…
Today we will take a look at the top 10 tactics for running an online business. I’m going to share some of my tips, tricks, and wisdom. I hope you enjoy!
1. Online businesses share many traits with traditional businesses, so first of all I advise anyone to build great relationships with suppliers as this can help you get the best prices possible. Become good friends with them and they will let you know when new products that suit your niche come onto the market. Take printers for instance. There have been all kinds of developments with printers in the last few years and we need to make sure we’re on top of those developments.
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2. You must have awesome delivery processes in place – and ideally, you can let your customers track their delivery. We work with a lot of offices and businesses and often their need for toner cartridges is immediate. We shopped around to find the most efficient and cheapest way we can do deliveries, so that customers don’t have to think, “Wow, I’d have been better off driving to the out-of-town office supplies warehouse.”
3. Along with awesome delivery goes secure and easy payment procedures – make sure your customers know that you use proper, industry-standard procedures.
4. Imagine your customer in that big, out-of-town office supplies warehouse (substitute furniture or pet food if that makes a better imagination leap for you) picking up one of your products and looking at it. Now go and write (or get a good copywriter to do it) your product descriptions.
Be detailed, be descriptive and make that product come alive on the screen. Oh – and make sure your product pages and pictures load quickly. Rumor has it, customers won’t engage with sites if it they take more than three seconds to load. Yup, people really have a short attention span these days.
5. Be competitively priced. Bargains, real or not, are all over the Internet, so research your competition and price accordingly. Offers on multiple purchases can work nicely, especially if you are aiming at business customers.
6. Use all the tactics you can to make sure your search engine rankings are good – blog regularly as this provides lots of fresh content for your website and makes it more likely to be picked up by search engines.
7. Research key words for your product or service and ensure you get them into as many pages on your sites as you can, include ‘how to’ advice articles, and use infographics and videos where possible.
8. To make your online business stand out, you need to create a linkable asset. If your business is something that people find interesting (say movies or cars for example), then this is great. If you have a boring product, let’s say lawn-mowers, then you have a bigger challenge on your hands.
You should focus on making yourself an authority on lawn-mowers by answering industry-related help questions, helping people fix their lawn-mowers, and giving lawn-mower related advice online. I personally would trust somebody much more if they’re actually passionate about their job and know what they’re doing.
9. Create a solid foundation for your business. This is the most important lesson I have learned since setting up UK Toner Cartridges. I was wet behind the ears when I started, I was only 19. I learned that you must have clear goals and stick to them. Yes, you can adapt and change but remember that simple goals are easy to reach and make you more effective.
If you only have one goal in mind, divide it into a few simple goals, so you actually feel like you’re accomplishing something when you cross them off your list. Also, be sure to create specific dates to reach your goals by. By having a specific date, you cannot make excuses or “Kick the can down the road.”
10. Create multiple ways for customers to connect with you. You want them to email you. You want them to phone you to discuss a hopefully gigantic order they want to wing your way. You want them to re-tweet that special offer, and you want them to find you on Facebook and say, “Hey, great work boys. I got my order today and it ROCKS!”
To put it simply, act like a human not a robot. To this day, I still see too many companies act like a soulless entity. Technically speaking, companies are dead entities, but they sure don’t have to act like it. Get out there and show your human side.
So there you have it – my ideas for your online business success. There will be bumps and tumbles along the way. Nobody or nothing is perfect. Be sure to learn from your mistakes and keep trucking forward. See you in the Bahamas in 2018. 😉