Whether you have been running a small business storefront for years or you are just starting out but have no online presence, there are many ways you can get up to speed with how the modern online world works.
Thanks to available digital tools and platforms as well as companies behind those solutions, you have more help now than ever before to modernise your business without having to spend considerable resources to do so.
Here are 10 ways you can upgrade your business to leverage the growth opportunities available online:
1Use cloud-based software programmes
Having a cloud-based architecture for your business makes it much easier and cost-effective to move your business to the online world. Doing so will allow you to access certain aspects of your business from anywhere and any device, which is important in the online world where every store and website is always open.
By working behind the scenes to share information with your team and handle processes from anywhere, your business will appear to be working around the clock to serve customers.
2Leverage solutions that personalise the online experience
Moving to the online world can be overwhelming at first because your audience can become so much larger yet expect you to know each one of them personally. Thanks to software solutions, it’s easier to accomplish this and actually build stronger relationships with customers that you have regularly serviced in-person.
For example, if you are a restaurant and want to make each customer feel as though you are interacting with them directly, you can leverage online tools that offer a database that keeps track of what those customers have ordered, when they have eaten at your restaurant or have a future reservation, when they have an upcoming special occasion and more that you can then use to personalise future visits, including sharing special menus that include dishes they like or offering a coupon for a future birthday.
3Select tools that help you automate time-consuming processes
When your business can automate aspects of the operations that tend to be time-consuming like invoicing, billing, and payments, you will be able to focus on other business-building activities while it efficiently takes care of these tasks for you.
Automation is one of the most beneficial aspects of the online world and provides you with a way to focus on the human component of business like interacting with customers and enhancing those user experiences that bring them back for more.
While those time-consuming tasks are very important to the business, they do take you away from what makes you money.
4Update your security systems for data
Even an offline business has significant data that it keeps on customers, including personal and financial information. In order to protect your business and customers from data theft, it’s important to upgrade your security systems and create a system that minimises the vulnerability level.
In then moving online, this need for security becomes even greater so it makes sense to understand where the vulnerabilities lie and then invest in the necessary security solutions, such as encryption and two-step verification processes.
5Create and actively develop a social presence
If you want to get to know your customers that are online every day and let them know you are available to chat, you need to develop a social presence on multiple platforms and regularly use them to interact and engage with your audience.
Setting up a Facebook page and Instagram account isn’t enough; you need to be on there daily answering questions and responding to feedback from your fans as well as providing useful content that brings them back for more. Like any relationship, your online social relationships need constant attention to flourish.
6Leverage Web APIs
The online environment puts you in touch with so many tools that can help you modernise how you work with your customers and run your business. Known as application programming interfaces (APIs), you can use these to fairly easily add specific applications to your business that increase functionality in every aspect of your organisation – marketing, sales, ecommerce, invoicing, payments, project management, collaboration, communication, security and more.
These APIs can be quickly found and added without having to start from scratch and needing the technical knowledge to add these operational patches to your business.
7Make the most of mobile demand
No customer will see you as modern if you don’t have some type of mobility to your business whether that is an app for them to tap into promotions or for you to drive more revenue through localisation strategies.
Mobile modernity also means the ability for your business to allow the team to work from their smartphones or tablets, if necessary, in order to maintain productivity.
On all fronts, having mobile functionality in your business means greater engagement from all stakeholders and illustrates your ability to work on the preferred devices.
8Deal with the data
Today’s businesses have such a wealth of intelligence at their disposal but are not sure how to truly harness it because they lack the understanding of how to do so or what type of analytics to leverage.
This data can include everything from customer preferences and purchase histories to analytics that can reveal preferred time to receive communication from brands, the optimum time to post on social media, and how certain marketing tactics are working to drive more business.
Numerous data analytics tools can be incorporated to modernise your business and the decisions made in relation to all the data available.
9Add more channels for revenue growth
A business that is stuck in the past only sees one pathway to revenue while a modern online business understands that it is best to implement an omni-channel model that puts your products in front of customers that could be looking for what you offer on all channels, including online, mobile, and offline, or traditional, channels.
By offering numerous ways your customers can buy, you are acknowledging that modern businesses need to make themselves available everywhere to satisfy their target audiences.
10Hire talent with modern skill sets
You most likely are not going to have the time to learn all the necessary skills. That’s why you need to hire strategically with outsource and freelance digital savvy talent that you can bring on board to handle specific projects or processes that need to be modernised to reflect the online environment.
These new skills to add include everything from programming and data analytics to social media marketing, influencer marketing, and mobile marketing.
It can seem overwhelming to overhaul your traditional business to work in the modern online world, but having a strategy that includes these approaches can help revamp your company.
Make the most of what has been done already in terms of best practices, tools, and talent so you don’t waste time and money reinventing the wheel just to catch up.
Always be open to the idea that you will now most likely continuing to evolve your business because the modern online world is in constant flux as technology and other external factors continue to change this operating environment.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.