One thing is for certain, no matter what the circumstances we’ll be entering the New Year in, everything pre-pandemic has more or less been left with the tag of ‘the old way of doing things’. 2020 has forever altered the way we live our lives. Therefore it’s only natural that this radical shift in normalcy has and will continue to have a lasting effect on the way customers interact with brands and companies.
As we move beyond survival-mode, it’s imperative that we understand the significant changes in the brand-customer dynamic and prepare ourselves for the ecosystem of the future. Sitting at the heart of this ecosystem is the digital revolution that has arrived and thrived in 2020. According to a report from eCommmerce360 the pandemic pushed online sales by 76.2% and this trend is only going to continue to see an upward trajectory in the years to come.
With a digital presence being the key ingredient in thriving in a post-pandemic world, businesses need to be equipped with the right tools and strategy to make the shift as seamless and immediate. However, this is easier said than done. Going online isn’t as simple as a website and building an online presence. As a co-founder of a fitness tracking app that thrives solely on an online mobile presence, I know this first hand. It’s about creating an alternate avenue for your customers to engage, interact, and understand your brand in an efficient and user-friendly environment. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the building blocks of taking your offline business, online.
The 10-step program
1. Buying a suitable domain
Your domain is your brand’s first impression with customers. It’s your digital identity. Therefore while selecting the most complementary domain; it’s important to understand the target audience you want to attract online. The demographic, psychographic, and how you want this ‘model’ customer to view your brand in their online experience is what needs to be considered.
2. Figure out your infrastructure needs
You can translate every action taken by you or the customer, into an action that is automated in the online world. Write down your User Stories (which includes you as an operator of the business as well) and figure out the infrastructure components that you will need to get the system up and running. The infrastructure components can comprise Databases, Caching, File Storage, Queuing System, Scalable Servers, etc.
3. Invest in the Cloud
By far one of the most important investments you’ll make while shifting to digital is in Cloud Computing. To be able to build a flexible and innovative online business environment Cloud technology is your best bet. An interesting concept of using cloud services is that it reduces your total cost of ownership in turn reducing the liabilities for your infrastructure and making it economically efficient. Apart from reducing TCO, you can leverage easily deployable ready-made services for Data Analytics, AI/ML, Scalable Infra, and many more.
4. Setting up your website
Now that we’ve taken care of the majority of the backend operations, setting up your website with a framework that best suits your business needs is the next step. This framework will determine your customer’s journey with your brand and products or services and must be strategically thought out keeping seamlessness and usability in mind.
5. Website Design
Since it’s human nature to choose to engage with options that are not just uniquely functional but aesthetically pleasing as well, your website design will be a crucial deciding factor on how they interact with your brand. Your strategically thought out user journey will be further elevated by an attractive web design.
6. Setting up a payment ecosystem
When it comes to payment options, multiple is always the best way to go. If a customer arrives at the final stage of the fulfilment experience and is unsure, unfamiliar, or wary of the payment options listed, or if the payment flow is too long, chances are that they’ll drop-off at that final stage.
7. Create a PWA powered Mobile App
We live in an era of inter-connectivity and giving your business an omniscient digital presence is a sure-shot way of setting yourself up for success. Creating a PWA (progressive web app) enabled mobile alternative will build your brand’s accessibility while also cultivating deeper customer loyalty and continuing to give your brand the intelligence it needs to enhance the user experience.
8. Marketing & SEO Planning
Now that your brand has created its presence online, awareness, and visibility is the next step. Think about the internet as the world’s largest Times Square. Users are constantly bombarded with ads, information, and promotions that all want to get their attention. Therefore in this game of attention and retention, the best way to attract your potential customer is by first setting up an effective SEO system to enable optimized discovery of your website. This can then be followed by heightened engagement through emailers, social media amplification, etc.
9. Create and curate engaging content
Well-articulated, relevant, and keyword enriched content is crucial to the success of your digital business. The content on your website and on any other online presence you may have at this point should be able to captivate and engage your target audience while delivering your message with conviction and gusto.
10. Check Taxes compliance
Last but definitely not least, having a business online doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules and regulations to play by. Ensure that you have taken care of and accounted for all legalities and that you are always walking the straight and narrow.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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