Over 30 percent of world is now online and shop there regularly, that is almost more than 2.5+ billion people are shopping online so just think about the customer base you can accumulate from this huge number. It is therefore obvious that companies should set up an online business. The advantages are obvious: you can reach many more potential customers online than with a local business – and even worldwide.
If you are self-employed, have a local shop or your business idea can be offered well on the Internet, you should definitely take the step into online business. Read here in our step-by-step guide which advantages a web presence brings for your business and how to get started.
The business strategy for online business
You have a business idea that could also be of interest for online business and you would like to make your offer known nationwide. In the first step, you should question the idea carefully and check self-critically whether a success is realistic. Ask yourself:
- “Why do I want to go online?”
- “What exactly do I want to achieve with it?”
Example: You run a small restaurant. You want to reach more customers with an online presence. But so that the people around you know that your restaurant even exists, you first have to ensure that your restaurant can be found on Google Maps and in local search. Before you start, here are some things to note:
- Mission: What does your company stand for?
- Unique selling point: What do you do better / differently than others? In other words: How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
These two points will help you to focus when creating your online presence on what makes you and your business special and unique. So you can think in advance how you want to highlight these specifics and how you want to present your company in general.
Select suitable online channels
Think about the channels through which you can best reach the target group for your online business. If you do not want to set up a website in the first step, you can also start by entering your business in digital business directories and registering with rating portals. In any case, listing in a business directory should be your first step.
Social media: find the right channel for your target group
Many companies maintain a social media presence before building their own website. Think about which social media channels your customers are most likely to use: You can reach young people via Snapchat, for example, and their parents on Facebook. The easiest way to find business customers is on B2B networks such as LinkedIn. If your business is very visual and you have good picture material, your own Instagram or Pinterest account is mandatory.
Local search engines: Google My Business and Bing Places for Business
Google My Business and Bing Places for Business are arguably the most important and effective business directories for local businesses. You can enter your company data yourself there so that you are shown directly when you search for your name or your industry.
Both platforms automatically include customer ratings and reviews in your profile, which are also displayed in your search results. The entry also shows other useful information, such as a menu, opening times or peak times
You can upload professional images yourself, which will then be displayed directly and give customers an impression of the business. An entry in Google My Business or Bing Places is also completely free. In this way, the user can find all the information he needs when looking for a local business in your industry directly on Google. You do not need your own website and no knowledge of search engine optimization. Simply fill out the form and your business listing on Google or Bing is ready.
The entries are also used in search engines such as Google Maps. No local company should do without its own presence in the two most important search engines in order to do online business.
Set up your website or online shop
A website is now the next logical step to your online business. Although you can draw attention to yourself and your company through business directories, social media and review portals, you are always bound to the framework conditions of the respective portal in the design. It is therefore essential to develop your own channels. This can either be your own website or an online shop. Here you are completely free to design and are independent of third parties in the long term.
Quick and easy: create a website with WordPress
To get started and especially suitable for beginners, we recommend WordPress. With this free content management system (CMS) you can easily create your own website without any technical knowledge, with blog or shop as you wish. The creation of a website with WordPress is – depending on the scope of the project – comparatively cheap and easy to maintain. If you would like additional functions and services, you can always install plugins instead of programming them yourself. You can also hire a freelancer to build your WordPress site if you don’t want to do it yourself. Anyone who needs a shop should only have this job done by experienced professionals.
In addition to WordPress, there are many other popular content management systems such as Typo3, Drupal or Joomla, for which, however, you need a specially trained developer.
First steps in e-commerce: open an online shop
Under E-commerce is defined as the sale of goods or services on the Internet. There are numerous providers who allow you to open a small online shop even without extensive technical knowledge. When creating this, however, always keep in mind that the online shop is your digital shop window and maintain your online shop just as well as a local store. Offer your customers all information about the product that they could find out on site and work with images.
Shop platforms: Amazon, eBay & Co.
There is no more powerful search engine than Amazon, especially for online shops. So if your online business is based on the sale of products, there is almost no getting around Amazon as a sales channel. Even eBay provides excellent service for sellers.
Market Online Presence
The following options are available to you in online marketing in order to reach customers and build a successful online business:
|SEO[search Engine Optimization]||SEA[Search Engine Advertising]|
|GMB[Google My Business]||Display Marketing|
|Email Marketing||Affiliate Marketing|
|Social Media Marketing||Social Media Ads|
Content marketing is the magic word for unpaid reach : Offer your target group high-quality content that makes your offer visible on search engines and social media channels even without paid advertising. Establish yourself as an expert in your industry and make sure that you deliver not only advertising but also useful information.
If you don’t have the opportunity to produce videos or blog posts yourself, you can also book influencers with a large reach. Instagram stories are currently one of the cheapest forms of advertising on the web and this is where videos are particularly effective. If possible, try to use all channels relevant to your target group, but only if you can do it on a professional level.
If you want to be successful with an online business, you have to deal with these channels in order not to lose touch.
What does it cost to build an online business?
If you want to reach customers online, it depends on whether a presence in the local search (Google Maps, Google My Business) is sufficient. You don’t pay anything for it.
Nevertheless, we recommend every company to set up their own website. Depending on the size of the website, this costs comparatively little with the WordPress construction kit. Anyone who deals with the topic can also set up a WordPress site completely free of charge.
There are also hosted modular systems such as Jimdo or Wix, where you can rent a website for a monthly subscription fee of between 10 and 40 euros. Technically, however, these can hardly be optimized for search engines. These providers are only recommended if a simple online business card is sufficient. We clearly recommend a CMS that is on its own server or web hosting package.
If you want to set up your own online shop, you have to calculate with significantly higher costs for maintaining and marketing your offer.
It is cheaper to start an online business as an Amazon seller or with an eBay shop , but then you are dependent on the conditions of the respective providers. Anyone can register as a seller on the marketplaces and list products for sale for a fee and commission. The sales commission is between 7 and 15 percent. With Amazon’s special FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon) program, you can even have your supplier send the purchased goods directly there (so-called drop shipping) and save yourself the costs of storage and shipping – Amazon takes care of all of this for you.