2020 is a year to reset, and for many businesses, it means facing the reality that online is where the customers are. Whether you’re starting your business from scratch or migrating from your brick and mortar shop, kickstarting your business online is the smart move for the next year, economically and safety-wise.
E-commerce may seem daunting but it’s not uncharted terrain: thankfully the migration to an e-commerce business platform is already a norm in many industries. With the arrival of easier payment systems like Paypal and DragonPay, as well as the boom of the delivery and shipping industry, online shopping has become the norm for many customers. In Singapore, 85% of the population is online, with three-quarters of that number being online shoppers between the ages of 16 to 64. Ignoring the move to an e-commerce platform means you lose out on most of your customer base, and the potential to expand your business to other localities that your brick and mortar shop may not serve.
At the same time, e-commerce has provided a safer way to keep businesses afloat even as the world suffers an economic downturn due to the pandemic. With limited face-to-face interactions and eliminating the need for unnecessary exposure, online shopping lets your business generate income while physical shops are closed. It is a socially responsible move, even as you make sure that your company stays in the black.
Admittedly, the transition is not plug-and-play: there are many things to consider when kickstarting an online business, especially in a pandemic year. Here are some ways to get your business on the right track by 2021:
Research the Right Business Model for your Business
Much like a traditional enterprise, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the right business model for your company. It’s important to take stock of what you have and what you want your business to be when transitioning into a digital platform.
Is your company more of a B2B wholesaler or catering to consumers directly? Are you putting out an e-commerce store for a single brand or creating a marketplace with a diverse inventory? Decide on these things early because they matter when choosing the right platform and website design for your e-commerce business. If you are looking for a web developer, check out the best web design company Singapore here.
Don’t Forget Your Marketing Plan
Just because you’re online, it doesn’t mean that your products will sell themselves. Make sure you’re still supporting your sales with a robust marketing plan: strategize the best way to promote your products, prepare to invest in ads, and create compelling content to get eyeballs on your shop. Your e-commerce website should also enjoy the support of relevant social media to leverage your online presence.
Create An Online Shop Via Shopify, Lazada, Shopee Or Qoo10
Most of your customers are most likely to be browsing online through marketplaces like Shopify, Shopee, Qoo10 or Carousell. These shopping platforms make it easy to set up an online shop — you can simply upload your wares and customers will easily find your products when they do a search. However, competition is high and you need to work on establishing your brand’s legitimacy: since anyone can create selling accounts on these marketplaces, customers become very wary of which shop to patronize. Use your online shop in these marketplaces as a way to augment your own e-commerce website; your own website can lend legitimacy to your other marketplace presence.
Secure A Government Grant
Transitioning to an online platform is not easy, and it certainly won’t be cheap. Thankfully, the government of Singapore has offered several grants to help with moving many businesses, especially those of small to medium-sized enterprises, to an e-commerce platform.
Currently, there is a Productivity Solutions Grant which subsidizes 70% of website development costs for creating your online website. You can apply for it via the Enterprise Singapore website or connect with licensed vendors that are pre-approved to help you with the application. You can also apply for an e-Commerce Booster Package that can help you augment your customer base, whether your target market is local or abroad.
Connect with A Digital Marketing Agency
Starting your e-commerce journey is not without its challenges, but if you partner with a digital marketing agency that can handle everything from your e-commerce website backend to your web design and social media strategy, you can concentrate on growing your business as normal. Connecting with a digital marketing agency also makes your day-to-day operations easier, and you can choose the level of involvement that you want with your online store.
In 2021, e-commerce will become a much more important facet of your business, and just like other factors that contribute to a company’s success, it is one that needs proper preparation and insight. Kickstarting your e-commerce business for 2021 is a move to remain relevant, competitive and profitable, so preparing for it as early as now is a step in the right direction.