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Running an online business is no more complex than running a normal, street-based business, but it is different, and requires the application of different skills and knowledge. For instance, think of when you exit a supermarket – do you notice the up-sells next to the cahier points? Generally they are impulse buys – chocolates and drinks. But there are also small gift products at a higher piece level etc.

What else do supermarkets and restaurants do? Here are a few pointers

  • Advertise widely so you know about them and are attracted to them for specific special offers – creating brand awareness
  • Make the whole entrance look inviting and convenient
  • Arrange the store so that you can find what you want as fast as possible
  • Offer you memberships for discounts to keep you coming back
  • Implement absolute security for your credit card details
  • Restaurants use clever psychological tricks like making the price small-print and leaving off the $ sign (notice that?) to make you less price sensitive
  • Use color psychology to increase your spending
  • Make product complaints easy and provide no-quibble guarantees
  • Stay up to date with product trends

These are just a few of the more obvious methods to generate and keep business- there are many, many more.

One final example: In its early days, MacDonald’s had a very clever  strategy: (1) Make the store really, really inviting from the outside with its lights, and red and yellow color schema and (2) Make sure customers did not hang around inside taking up valuable space by making the lights bright enough to encourage people to leave quickly after eating – no one wants a discussion under spotlights!

Online Methods

An traditional business owner will know most of these tricks but will often stumble in effectively implementing their online equivalents.  In online-speak, these issues are summarized as:

  • Business models – Drop-Shipping, 3rd Party Shipping (Amazon eBay etc), Freight Shipping, Stock Holding, Import/Export, Local Business, National Business, International Business
  • Online Business Planning – how much is needed for every stage of the plan and what is the Return on Investment calculated to be at each phase? This is the online business owners’ guiding star.
  • Traffic generation – SEO – Advertising.  Local Web Presence, National Web Presence, International Web Presence, Competition, ROI estimations. This is genuinely a business-critical, multi-layered and complex business activity. Warning: There are far more opportunists than professionals offering these services.
  • Business Website Optimization – Speed, User Experience, User Interface, Trust, Reputation, Branding, Consistency, Conversion Optimization. Here’s how not to do it!
  • Customer communications planning – offers, rewards, complaint response, product tracking, email marketing.
  • Website maintenance and updating
  • Performance monitoring and course correction in every online activity.

Many business owners convince themselves of one of the following:

  1. I can’t afford to implement a full program so I’ll just do a bit of it e.g. a cheap but pretty website that is usually not optimized for business. This is a wasted sunk cost. We get many calls from people asking for help with websites that do not generate business.
  2. I’ll do cheap SEO and scale up later. This can actually sink a site with spammy links that search engines hate. it can cost more to undo this damage that to start again with a new domain.
  3. Advertising on Google is easy. It’s not if you want to get a return on your investment. Many businesses see little or no return at all – just costs. Advertising online requires expertise, planning, monitoring, course correction and patience in most cases.
  4. Advertising on Facebook is easy. It’s not, if you want a return on investment. Facebook ads can be very successful or simply burn through your money like a forest fire.
  5. Selling on Amazon is easy. It’s not. This is a real concern of ours as we see so many ‘get rich quick’ courses offered for this business model. It’s really, really tough and competitive.
  6. My website looks great and cost me a lot of money, it must be fine. Wrong! Potential business problems with a website extend far beyond the pleasant appearance. A builder would not build a house without an architects plan, and a website is no different in that respect.

Those are some of the key issues. We have solutions for them if you are interested.

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