HOW TO TAKE OFFLINE BUSINESS ONLINE IN COVID 19
Never before the world witnessed a severe pandemic like COVID 19. It has nearly shut down the global economy in just a few months. However, while waiting for the virus to be controlled by medical experts and governments around the world, we should do something with our businesses to help improve the situation. In this article, CO-WELL Asia as an e-commerce service provider will first, give you an overview of COVID’s impact on businesses and then guide you through steps to take offline business online in COVID 19.
1. COVID 19 AND BUSINESSES
Negative effect of COVID 19 on the global economy
Coronavirus disease 2019 (also known as COVID 19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). First identified in December 2019 in China, COVID 19 has spread globally since then, resulting in the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.
Since the COVID 19 outbreak was first diagnosed, it has spread to over 190 countries and all U.S. states. The pandemic is having a noticeable impact on the growth of the global economy. According to Congressional Research Service, it is estimated so far that the virus could trim global economic growth by as much as 2.0% per month if current conditions persist. Global trade could also decrease by 13% to 32%, depending on the depth and extent of the global economic downturn. The full impact won’t be known until the effects of the pandemic peak.
At the sectoral level, tourism and travel-related industries will be among the hardest hit as authorities in many parts around the world encourage “social distancing” and therefore, consumers spend most of the time staying indoors. Restaurants, sporting events, and other services will also face significant disruption. Regarding the offline retail industry, the situation is not so much better because most shops are now being closed.
Time to take offline business online in COVID 19
The growth of e-commerce in this time
However, there are still chances for some industries, such as e-commerce. Data from IMRG (reported by Internet Retailing) states that UK online retail sales increased by 22% in the first week of April compared to the same time last year. Similarly, in the US and Canada, it’s quite the same situation for e-commerce. According to the Emarsys/GoodData tracker, online orders for primarily store-based retailers were up 56% year on year for the two weeks ending 4th April, and up 52% for web-based retailers.
Prediction of e-commerce trend in the future after COVID
The truth is we don’t know for sure yet when this pandemic is going to end. It can be weeks or months as the situation is getting more and more complicated. However, when it ends, there is one important thing you should know is your customers already have the habit of shopping online then.
Well, we all know that when a habit is formed, it is hard to change, right? Therefore, entrepreneurs should definitely take this amazing opportunity to take your offline business online in COVID 19. It’s really now or never!
2. STEPS TO TAKE OFFLINE BUSINESS ONLINE IN COVID 19
Taking offline business online in COVID 19 is not easy. You have used to the old ways of doing things. But you have to get used to it. There are 7 basic steps that CO-WELL Asia, as an e-commerce service provider, suggests that you should follow to successfully take your business online in COVID 19.
Step 1: Choose an e-commerce platform
The first step CO-WELL Asia advises you to take is choosing the right e-commerce platform. There are several e-commerce platforms on the market. However, not all of them are suitable for your business. Let’s take a look at the criteria first. And then with our e-commerce service experience, CO-WELL Asia will suggest some popular e-commerce platforms for your online business.
Criteria to choose an e-commerce platform
- Main business objectives: whether it’s cost reduction, increased profits, better website interface, competition with other businesses,…. you should know where you want to go with your chosen e-commerce platform.
- Features and functionalities: besides e-commerce features that already exist like payment gateways, page building or catalog requirements, social media marketing… you ought to make some optimizations to improve the customer experience and your website’s aesthetics. Sometimes a small adjustment can make a huge difference.
- System integrations: When finding the next platform for your plan, you should also consider the flexibility, adaptability, and extensibility of your platform as it grows along with your business. Moreover, when new features and technologies become modern standards, make sure your new platform can support them.
Most popular e-commerce platforms
As we have served many customers with our e-commerce service, we understand how important it is to choose a suitable platform. Check out these most loved platforms.
Magento – A great fit for large e-commerce stores
Magento is known as a feature-rich, professional open-source e-commerce website. Launched on March 31, 2008, it was once owned by the eBay group. However, thanks to its quick and impressive development, Magento has reached out of the reach of eBay and step by step became the platform that is considered the most outstanding with its nonstop development and changes throughout the years.
This e-commerce platform provides users with numerous outstanding features. You can manage stores that are working in multiple countries with various market targets and brands with different pricing, content and payment systems from a single establishment.
Shopify – The most convenient for large online stores
Launched in June 2009, presently, Shopify has more than 600,000 online stores and handles the volume of products valued at USD 55 billion. Shopify is utilized by a wide range of individuals, and organizations, from small to medium entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar businesses. Shopify provides the platform in the form of SaaS (Software-as-a-service), which means the core system and the platform are hosted on Shopify’s own system. One of the things customers love the most about Shopify is that it supports integrate SEO into the system. It is easy to add Meta title, Meta Description, Alt text tags to each article, product or collection. In addition to that, users are able to integrate Google Analytics and Search Console to optimize SEO.
BigCommerce – Excellent for big e-commerce store
BigCommerce is a leading e-commerce platform that allows you to create an online store. It lets you set up your store, including items, and bring in cash through your website.
But that’s not all. BigCommerce is a specialized e-commerce builder, which means it’s intended to assist you with selling on the web. With huge amounts of built-in features, data tools, and more, BigCommerce is great for big or fast-growing businesses.
Similar to Shopify, BigCommerce provides the SaaS platform. It is an online store software, directly integrated with Google Merchant Center, which allows users to promote their items on Google Shopping.
WIX.com – A good option for small online stores
Wix e-commerce has a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop editor, allowing you to build your very own e-commerce website. There is no need for coding, hosting, or stressing – just simply pick your template, modify it by dragging and dropping elements like text boxes and images around your pages, and then hit publish!
Volusion – Good design, great for sales and reporting
Volusion was made in 1999 and is one of the established e-commerce website builders around. It provides no illusions with regards to data reports. All that you need for tracking your site’s performance and progress is in one spot. It’s the dream of every data lover.
This makes it perfect for developing your business at a pace that suits you. Volusion’s data tools let you measure how successful your pages are, so you can adjust your site at ease to improve your sales numbers.
Volusion scored inadequately for its website features – the main issue being that Volusion doesn’t offer any blogging tools. can have a significant influence in the development of small businesses, so this is a major downside. Nonetheless, if you want to grow your business, Volusion is a better than average spot to begin.
Weebly – Easy to use
Weebly is one of the most awesome drag-and-drop website builders on the market these days. Not only are there plenty of options available, Weebly e-commerce is also one of the easiest platforms to handle for building your own online business store.
Squarespace – a website builder, but also a great e-commerce platform.
If you expect to build an eye-catching portfolio for online business, then remember to make space for this platform. Why so? Because Squarespace stores really stand out.
In our research, Squarespace beats all other online business web designers when it came to designing. Its templates are modern, sleek, and built to show off your products. You can even switch your template any time you want – ideal for any rebrands you might have down the line.
GoDaddy – The one that is easy to use
GoDaddy’s website builder, GoCentral, can assist you with getting your e-commerce store fully operational instantly.
Through the use of ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence), creating a layout, uploading your items, and managing your sales has never been simpler!
Step 2: Set up a website
Your website needs to look stunning! So unless you’re a professional web designer or a techie, you are going to need to use a website theme that is easy to set up and customize. Otherwise, you will need to hire someone to design your website for you.
Check out amazing Magento themes for online business in this article!
Step 3: Configure Payment Methods
This is an important factor in your online business. Because all customers want to pay in the most convenient way possible. You’ll need a secure shopping cart and payment processing service like Paypal or Stripe. Also, it should be integrated into your website without too many hassles.
Step 4: Configure Shipping Methods
In this time of COVID 19, you must configure the shipping method carefully as customers just want to say at home and receive their parcels. So you will need to have your shopping cart connected to a shipping service like Endicia or USPS.
Step 5: Marketing & SEO Planning
Well, now you have prepared an online store for your business. But that is not enough yet. You have to think about the answer to this question: “How can I promote my online business so that many people know about it?”
There are many similar e-commerce sites on the market, so how to stand out from the crowd?
We are not 100% sure about the best way, but there are things you should do right away to at least catch up with your rivals, that include: Social media, email marketing, and SEO
Based on your customers’ habits and insights, you can choose to build social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, … You can create posts about your company, your products, promotion deals, and helpful information related to COVID 19. Let your imagination go wild but don’t forget to leave the right impression of your brand on social media.
Email marketing is especially advantageous when you already have a certain number of customers. In this hard time, before you have to rack your brain thinking about how to get new customers, it’s smarter to focus on your loyal customers.
You can send emails about promotions to your customers or simply asking them if they are doing fine as the disease is being spread rapidly. If they don’t want to buy anything, that’s ok because at least you have created an initial bond with your customers and that’s extremely important in doing online businesses.
There are several email sending tools and software that you can take into account, such as Omnisend, Campaign Monitor, Conversio, Remarkety, Emma,… You should choose the suitable one, considering your needs and budget.
If you want to promote your online business effectively in the long term, not just in this time of the Coronavirus, you must think about SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. It has become one habit of customers nowadays is to search for their desired items on Google. Therefore, if you wish to approach customers who are in need of your products, don’t forget to put effort into SEO.
However, it takes time to see the results of SEO. In fact, it could be months until you can see your work pulled off. So you should be patient when doing SEO for your online business and it is compulsory to have a long term SEO plan.
Step 6: Expose site to multiple sale channels
There are many sites on which you can promote your amazing products. Please note that depends on industries, there will be a corresponding digital sale channel that is suitable. Here are the most popular ones to choose from:
General marketplace (Amazon)
A general marketplace like Amazon is an incredible place to sell items with mass appeal. Selling through Amazon or a similar marketplace gives your product a degree of credibility and brings in a large audience. Generally, Amazon is an ideal spot to sell electronics, books, DVDs, and other general interest items.
Auction marketplace (eBay)
eBay is one of the most notable online marketplaces. Its unique poin is its auction-style approach to selling, making it a good fit for sellers who offer uncommon, vintage, and collectible things.
On-demand production marketplace (Cafepress)
CafePress empowers retailers to design and sell products with a printed component, which are created on-demand as customers request the items. This is an incredible model for businesses with a wide range of designs that want to outsource manufacturing and reduce costs of stock stockpiling and management.
Handmade and crafts marketplace (Etsy)
Etsy is extraordinary compared to other known marketplaces for handmade, vintage, and crafty products. This is a great choice for merchants who make their own products or create eccentric and interesting items. Furthermore, their audience tends to value their brand, which makes them an extraordinary platform to intensify your business and develop an awareness of your offerings. They also offer a wholesale feature if you’re intending to scale your items.
Unique items marketplace (Bonanza)
Bonanza’s slogan is “Find everything but the ordinary,” and that’s what you will discover on their marketplace. This makes it extraordinary if you specialize in distinctive or quirky products that your customers are unlikely to find anywhere else. It’s especially useful for online owners in the fashion and apparel industry.
Comparison shopping sites (Google Shopping)
If you sell items that are likewise supplied by other merchants as well, you might want to think about getting your items listed in comparison shopping engines like Google Shopping. These destinations are a first-stop for many price-conscious shoppers, so if you offer really good prices, you’ll want to guarantee that these customers know about your offers.
- Bing Shopping
Subscription box service (Cratejoy)
In the case that your business model is a subscription box service, you might want to consider selling through a platform like Cratejoy. They offer features and services for subscription box businesses at all stages, from those simply heading out to set up brands hoping to expand and scale. Furthermore, they feature your offerings alongside their other sellers on a marketplace site.
Niche marketplace (Not On The High Street)
Not On The High Street (NOTHS) specializes in handpicked gift ideas which are unusual (e.g. you wouldn’t find them in your typical “high street” shop). This type of platform is great for more creative, quirky products. You’ll have to apply to sell through their website, and there is a one-time joining fee but no listing fees.
- ASOS Marketplace
Daily deals sites (Groupon)
If you want to give people a taste of your product and grow your brand’s reach, consider collaborating with a daily deals site like Groupon. Actually, it is a similar model to paid ads, but there’s no upfront cost as the site just takes a cut of the product revenue.
Step 7: Start Selling Online
Congrats, now you are ready to officially start your online business. It can hard at first, but be patient and find ways to optimize your selling process everyday, then you will see the results.
How long to take business online in COVID 19?
You might worry that if this change takes for too long, then you will lose the optimal time to take your business online. But you don’t have to! You can shift your dream business from offline to online in about 2 weeks. Everything will be set up and you’ll be ready to sell your products to the customers.
Note: If your store requires very large catalogs and multiple customizations, the duration can vary between 2-6 weeks. If you want to cut time, think about using e-commerce service from providers.
3. CO-WELL ASIA, E-COMMERCE SERVICE PROVIDER
As we have mentioned right in the beginning, now this is the perfect time to shift from offline to online business. If you are struggling with moving your offline business online in COVID 19, CO-WELL Asia is willing to support you with our e-commerce service packages.
Founded in 2011, CO-WELL Asia now has nearly 10 years of experience in the IT service industry. And e-commerce service is one of our core capabilities. Whether you want to give a brand new look for your online store or you want it to be updated with the newest features, CO-WELL Asia is confident to provide you with the best solution. One significant strength in our service package is CO-WELL Asia is able to integrate your e-commerce website with the latest technologies like AR-VR. Besides, instead of using templates, CO-WELL Asia creates unique websites from scratch. This surely will make your website stand out among many similar ones.
If you want to save time and effort, don’t hesitate to contact us, an e-commerce service provider trusted by many customers. CO-WELL Asia is always willing to accompany you to overcome challenges and achieve business success with our outstanding e-commerce service.
4. CONCLUSION ON TAKING BUSINESS ONLINE IN COVID 19
To many people, COVID 19 is a disaster. It can be a disaster for you, too, if you don’t take action and start to create changes today.
Look at Coronavirus as an opportunity and you will realize what you can do to better the situation. Taking business online in COVID 19 is a smart move, so make sure you don’t miss this time to make it happen. Because in business, timing is an extremely important factor. When you are just a little bit slower than your competitors, you will lose your customers to them.
And if you are on the journey already, don’t forget to contact CO-WELL Asia when you need support with e-commerce service.