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“e” marks the spot for small business growth

In today’s world, it is becoming critical for the growth of small businesses to re-shape their thinking as “ebusinesses”. By doing so, you can take advantage of new technologies and communication channels including the ability to expand your customer base, be open for business any time anywhere, reduce cost of sales, enhance customer service, reduce marketing costs and keep an eye on your competitors.

ebusinessebusiness is a, whole-of-business approach that goes beyond electronic transactions and data transfer to include improving internal processes and systems, marketing and advertising, distribution and customer relationships.

The need for online adaptation has come as the competitive environment and customer demands have changed. The internet has created a more level playing field amongst businesses, where competition has increased and consumers have more bargaining power. Potential customers can comparison shop with just a click and this has produced an open marketplace where substitute products are readily available.

Some key considerations when enhancing your ebusiness capabilities include:

  1. Decide what products and services are to be sold online – this is because some offerings, such as travel and accommodation, can be sold more easily online over others such as large machinery or technical products.
  2. Decide upon your pricing structure – because selling online can be cheaper than face-to-face sales, many businesses try to encourage purchasing online through pricing strategy. This may include special bulk pricing or Internet-only discounts. In addition, considerations need to be made over delivery costs such as freight and handling.
  3. Provide a holistic and seamless shopping experience for your customers – purchasing on the Internet can be a very impersonal experience. The more ways you can personalise the experience and head off potential problems, the more likely you will gain customer satisfaction, cross sales and repeat business.
  4. Align your online selling with your other sales channels – this is particularly important if you have a different pricing structure for online versus offline sales. Make sure that all of your sales and marketing efforts are working together rather than against.
  5. Fulfil orders quickly and efficiently – Delays can frustrate customers and can be detrimental to your business.
  6. Define your delivery mechanisms – what methods will you use to deliver the product or service to your customer? Ensure orders can be fulfilled no matter what the size and that your logistics for delivery are reliable.
  7. Security and reliability – the security risks of conducting financial transactions online are high, requiring the need for specific security technologies such as encryption and authentication protocols. And if you intend to generate a lot of revenue through your site, it needs to be online and functioning reliably.
  8. Ensure compliance requirements are adhered to – the design, operation, use and management of e-commerce systems may be subject to a range of statutory, regulatory and contractual security requirements.  You should seek appropriate legal advice.

Want to know more?

Visit www.onlinegrowth.com.au for free articles, videos, seminars and tools to improve your online capability and grow your business. Online Growth is brought to you by NSW Business Chamber and is an Australian Government funded initiative under the Small Business Online Program.

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Vanessa Tsui

Vanessa Tsui

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