Will your business work on the internet? - 5 ways to decide if it's worth going online

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2014-05-15

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Your business maybe doing very well in terms of a brick-and-mortar store but this doesn't necessarily mean that your business will be successful if you take operations online, making the assumption that they will can result in unnecessary expense without a return on investment. The reality is that not all businesses thrive online although if it does it can help improve your profits drastically. This is one of the reasons why a lot of businesses are quick to build online stores in the hope that it will bring in the big bucks - after all an online store does make the whole world open for business any time of day.

Before setting up an online store it is very important to consider whether your business is suitable to have an online store, this can save you time and money.

Below are some ways to decide if it is worth taking your brick and mortar store online:

  1. Are your customers online?
    If the customers in your target market do not use the internet to purchase things then there is no point in creating an online store. One of the first things any business should do regardless of whether they want to online or not, is to know and understand their customers. Study the shopping habits of your target market - find out how they know or learn about the product, where they go to buy it and what motivates them to decide on the store they use.

    Some important questions to ask about your target demographic of customers include "How often do these people go online?", "Do they make online purchases in general?", "What type of products do they buy online?" and "what makes them buy online over buying from a physical store?". Answering these questions will give you a clearer idea about building an online store.

    In some cases a website that markets your business and helps improve offline sales maybe a better option that an online store where customers can make purchases. You can focus the resources on a simple business website and SEO services to help generate leads instead.

  2. Online Demand:
    Even if your customers do buy products online you must check to see the demand for your product online and where they go to buy these products. Study your competitors and see if they have an online presence, this will help you give your customers a niche that will attract them to your online store instead. It can be lower prices, better information about the product (like demo videos etc.), a simpler user interface and online shopping experience or even faster delivery times, this creates online demand and gives your customers a reason to buy form you.
    One way to learn more about the products you sell online and how customers find them, is to make use of Google Trends tool, this has statistics for searches made and the popularity of them by geographic location.

  3. Logistics:
    You may have a good target market of customers online, who are willing to make purchases over the internet, but if you're going to have trouble delivering products to them then you must re-asses your decision to create an online store. Logistics is a very important aspect of building an online store and it is vital to align yourself with the right delivery partners or postal service. Taking a business online can attract a large influx of customers beyond the usual, and you must make sure your business can handle this. You may also want to consider how orders from other states or even other countries are going to be filled in and delivered. In some cases the packaging used to send the product may also have to be considered as some products will require special packaging.

  4. Is it Marketable?
    After gauging the demand for the product and weather its worth selling online, you must then decide on how you are going to attract customers to your website. You can have a n excellent looking website and great product but if no one know about it there is no point. It is equally important to make sure people find your website online. There are several online marketing methods that can be used to help with this, consider options like - Pay per click advertising, Search Engine Optimization, and Email Marketing Services.

  5. Test it out and see for yourself:
    If you are confident that there is a good market for your business online the best way to see if it will succeed is to actually test it out. Do a trial run by selecting some of your most popular products that can be easily shipped and market it carefully. Buy monitoring the success of online sales for these few products you can decide if it's worth fully expanding your online business. Tools like Google Analytics and Web Master Tools can be used to learn about your website through useful statistics.