Did you know that in the Philippines alone, there are 29.7 million internet users?
Given this number, tapping even less than one percent of the internet users in the country can already be a big boost to your business. But are you really ready to make your online debut? Are you sure you want to expand your business beyond the confines of your home or store?
If you are, then read the 11 tips listed down by the Department of Trade and Industry for entrepreneurs who would want to start their business online or even to just make their presence felt in the cyberworld:
1. Do your research.
Know your business and your customer. Understand e-commerce terminologies and technologies; domain name registration; security standards; payment options; and logistics, laws, regulations and policies; among others. And most important of all, have a business plan.
2. Get reliable and trustworthy partners.
Determine which aspects/functionalities of your online business/website are DIY (Do It Yourself) or which require professional help. Weigh the pros and cons. After all, it is not only about running your business, but being connected to the supply chain. If one link weakens or goes down, then the entire chain is affected. It is, therefore, a must that partners are reliable and trustworthy to have a strong supply chain.
3. Optimize your website.
Do not overload or overkill it. Keep it up-to-date. Remember that first impressions count. Your website should be dynamic, appealing, and straightforward.
4. Be transparent.
Provide clear and detailed description of products and services. Indicate fees and charges. These should be evident in your website to avoid being accused of misleading customers with false/deceptive information and hidden costs.
5. Make your presence felt online (and offline!).
Maximize channels. Promote your website. Employ SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Advertise through PPC or pay-per-click, banner advertising, etc. Utilize social networking sites and other online marketplaces to sell your products and services and to direct traffic to your website.
6. Offer a range of options for secure and reliable payment and delivery.
Monitor order fulfillment. Give your customers secure and reliable payment options (e.g., credit card, debit card, etc.), preferably those with known and enhanced security features such as fraud monitoring and dispute settlement mechanism.
7. Encrypt orders and payment information.
Use internet security precautions (e.g., use SSL – Secure Sockets Layer) to protect your customer’s personal information, payment and order details.
8. Validate suspicious or unusual orders
These are orders that come one after the other registered to the same address or using the same credit card. Take the necessary steps to prevent or tackle fraudulent transactions.
9. Be realistic.
Ensure that you can handle demand. Putting your business online and promoting it effectively will increase your sales. There may be dramatic changes – increased customers’ expectations/ demands, changing shopping habits, etc. – that you should be prepared to handle.
10. Balance technological know-how with selling/marketing.
Do not focus solely on the technological aspects/functionalities of your website or only on the promotion of your products and services. There is a need to strike a balance.
11. Look after your customers.
Make their online shopping experience a pleasant one. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What is it like transacting with your website? Make your customers feel safe and comfortable when transacting on your website. When you treat your customers well, they remain loyal and help you gain new customers. Positive feedback and word-of-mouth advertising bring increased sales, higher profit margins, and a wider customer base.