Everyone is anxious about business and the economy right now – especially small business owners, who are wondering how they will survive an extended period of social distancing.
One thing that might help ease your mind is getting online sales and services up and running. Almost every business has something they can move online, even if it’s just gift certificates for use when the social distancing process is over. And the great news is that communities in crisis are often very interested in supporting local and small businesses. They want to help you out – so make it easy for them by using your website to offer your services and products online.
First question: what are you going to sell?
First, figure out what you can offer online. This might require a little thinking outside the box, or pivoting from your usual offerings to something new.
Maybe you can offer:
- Virtual, video-based consultation calls
- Online classes to help your clients exercise/learn a new skill/stay healthy
- Online classes to teach other entrepreneurs a skill that you know how to do that might help them grow and survive this time
- Virtual coffee dates, with guest speakers or just for your community to share their thoughts
- Your physical products, available for shipping or local pickup
- Gift certificates at a discount for use when you reopen
Remember, you can encourage sales now, and help your community follow you online, by:
- offering a discount compared to your usual prices, or free shipping
- including a freebie, like a downloadable worksheet or checklist, with a purchase
- bundling services and items together to make a more cost-effective package
Ready with some ideas? It’s time to get them online!
First option: the simplest solution
The most basic, low-commitment way to move your business online is also the most labour intensive, as it requires a lot of manual intervention at each step. But it probably uses tools you already own and know how to use – so it’s a great first dip into the online sales world.
Add your offerings to your website
Add a new page to your site, or just a new section to your home page and sidebar, letting your customers know that you’ve moved online and you’re now offering the following products/services/packages for online purchase.
You’ll want a way for them to tell you yes! They want your exciting new product. This could be as simple as filling out an online form and sending you their information by email.
Find a way for them to pay you
Payment is so easy these days! You could:
- just have them send you an eTransfer
- add a PayPal business button anywhere that allows them to pay a fixed amount into your PayPal account
- send them an invoice from your online accounting software, like Quickbooks
Send them the goods
If you are offering a physical product, then the next step is to bundle it up for shipping or drive-up pickup or whatever delivery method feels safest to you.
If it’s an online service like a class or consultation, then the next step could be something as easy as:
- emailing them to book a time for a video call
- sending them a series of reference materials and worksheets to complete (and maybe submit for review)
- letting them know the day and time to meet you and your community online
- granting them access to your exclusive Facebook group or membership group
Some tools that might help
Consider these third party tools to help you deliver your services online:
- Zoom – for high quality video calls, including groups and the ability to record
- Acuity – for booking appointments online
- MailChimp, GetResponse, or MailerLite for managing your email list and sending out course information
- Teachable – for building easy online courses
- Eventbrite – for managing online events
Future plans for an online empire: the scalable solution
Moving your business online isn’t just an emergency stopgap measure.
If it’s set up well, and uses automation, then your online sales can become a significant piece of your business going forward. It can be an alternate – or even primary – revenue stream, and provide cushioning for any future times when online selling is our only option.
So once you have the basics up and running, it’s time to think big!
This might mean:
- adding an online storefront to your website that allows visitors to add multiple items to a cart (physical or virtual), and pay online without your manual intervention
- selling a mixture of products, from downloads to memberships to gift certificates to consultation packages to recurring therapies to online classes, using one unified storefront
- integrating your website storefront with other services to automatically book appointments and set up video calls, or to create and print shipping labels
- allowing for automation to drive your emails and online classes, serving content on a schedule
All this and more can be added to a well-designed website, when you’re ready to launch. If the right base is in place, there’s nowhere you can’t go.
I’m ready to help!
Whether you want to add:
- a new page to your site with exciting new packages
- an order form
- a PayPal button or two
- integration with third party services like MailChimp or Acuity
- a full eCommerce storefront
I’m here and ready to lend a hand!