Wednesday 8 July, 2020

How small businesses can integrate an online business model

Monique R. Kennedy is the Creative Director at Digita Global Marketing.

Monique R. Kennedy is the Creative Director at Digita Global Marketing.

The piece below was written by Monique R. Kennedy, Creative Director at Digita Global Marketing

Since the first dot com boom in 1995, thought leaders in the technology and business space have advocated for doing business online. In 2020 and beyond, the internet will become the most important place for commerce.

There’s an entire ecosystem that enables businesses to create, advertise and sell their products and services, communicate with customers, build relationships, and accept payments. This ecosystem includes websites, mobile apps, online resources and social media platforms.

The options for earning online are always expanding and it's becoming more integrated into the way we do business. From the small Instagram storefront that takes orders through DMs with payments made on delivery; to the more sophisticated integration of Shopify to make Instagram posts shoppable.

More now than ever, everything is connected. However, Jamaica’s adoption of online business has been slow due to two main factors. The first being, the absence of the technical knowledge needed to move a business online.

This gap is followed by the infrastructure barrier to support online payments.

To date, there is no solution that is both easy to use and seamless, as well as widely accessible. However, social media platform integrations with third-party tools and the ease of designing a website using drag and drop design platforms make it easier than ever for anyone to transition online even as a beginner.

Accepting payments is a key part of doing business online, however, this barrier to entry shouldn’t be a deterrent to those committed to making the pivot. Bank transfers, mobile money solutions, apps that make transferring PayPal balances to local accounts easier and requesting payment on delivery are all ways businesses can circumvent the blockers that exist.

As we face what will likely be one of the largest global health crises within our lifetimes, many Jamaican businesses have been forced to not only innovate but to innovate quickly.

Service-based businesses are at the helm of this transition utilising video conferencing tools to meet with clients and even hosting classes online. While other businesses like restaurants have now widely adopted food delivery.

But what if your current business doesn’t easily translate to an online business model?

Graphic contributed by Digita Global

Here are some ways your business can capitalize on the shift in how work is done, while still delivering value to customers.

1. Create Digital Products: The value perception of digital products is rising, from frameworks to toolkits, information can be packaged for download and sold at a premium. For example, a therapist can compile a workbook of exercises to help patients manage depression at home and make it available for purchase online. Digital Products have a low production cost and there is no limit on the number of sales you can make. If you’re a thought leader in your industry, an e-book written by your C.E.O. could be a great opportunity to increase profits and establish your expertise.

2. Develop Online Courses: Platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare and Teachable make it easier to develop online classes and they each have built-in payment gateways. Businesses that rely on in-person interaction like beauty salons can greatly benefit from this. Offering courses to teach your audience how to do their nails like a professional can help you tap into the segment of your customer base who are more inclined to DIY. You may be asking, why would anyone pay for my services when they can do it themselves? In business, you have to remember two important factors that customers consider when making buying decisions is if it will save them time or money. As an expert in your field, you provide your customers with the convenience of not having to spend hours mastering a skill and money purchasing tools and materials. Therefore, there will always be a segment of your customer base that will happily pay for your service. We at Digita are in the process of creating the Caribbean’s first truly integrated and contextual Learning Management Solution, Digita University.

3. Offer Online Consultations: An avenue that many product-based businesses don’t consider exploring is offering online consultations. Consultations tailored to supporting the lifestyle built around your product can help with boosting sales and add another stream of income. For example, a clothing store can offer online personal styling services through a video-conferencing platform and manage booking and payments online.

4. Take Sales Online: This is an ideal option for businesses that sell products. Platforms like Shopify make setting up an online store very simple. Your online storefront won’t only make it easier for your customers to get their favourite products to their doorstep, it will reduce overhead costs and you’ll gain access to a wider audience.

5. Try Online Events: The online party #BigOnlinePar ushered in a new trend of online parties locally. It also presented an opportunity for those within the entertainment industry. With a few simple tools, those who would like to take their events online can explore implementing a paywall for their customers to access specific content. There is no one size fits all solution, it all depends on what works for your business. Developing online content is a strategic way to not only market your business and deliver value, but it is also an additional source of revenue.

As you can see, service-based and some product businesses lend themselves well to the adoption of an online model. While businesses that depend on in-person interactions to deliver their services may be best at implementing some online elements that will serve as support for their business.

If you’re looking for tangible ways to move your business completely remote download Digita’s guide to Making Remote Work Work here: https://digitaglobal.com/virtual-work-guide

About the author:

Monique R. Kennedy is the Creative Director at Digita Global Marketing Ltd. and holds a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

She has 10 years of experience working with brands in the digital space and is passionate about using design to transform organisations.

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