Part 1: Quick tips to boost your online presence
Running a retail business is increasingly tough in an online-dominant marketplace. And for retail owners who are already time-strapped, staying on top of your online presence doesn’t always take priority. In Part 1 of this series, we explain the importance of an online presence and how a few quick steps can put you on the path to success
Why do I need an online presence?
Keeping both staff and customers satisfied at your brick-and-mortar store is vital to the ongoing success of your business, but it’s no longer the only way to build brand recognition. For small business owners in particular, having a solid online presence can draw in new audiences and even streamline your most time-intensive tasks.
The most valuable step in understanding your digital presence is to conduct an online audit.
The value of an online audit
Many owners believe they are already using digital to their advantage simply because they have a working website and a Facebook page. But an online presence runs much deeper than basic social platforms.
An online audit can clarify your current level of digital competency, and reveal the steps needed to improve it. Business Queensland offers a useful guide to online auditing, which breaks down businesses into three groups:
- Surviving (novice): A ‘surviving’ business is one that might have a website that isn’t regularly updated, and doesn’t offer much more in terms of digital assets.
- Consolidating (active): The majority of small business will fall into the ‘consolidating’ category. This usually means you have an e-commerce platform to accept orders, some cloud-based software to protect your data, or any cutting-edge tech to streamline your processes.
- Leading (advanced): Tech-savvy business owners are considered ‘leading’ due to their unrivalled digital innovation. They not only embrace a solid digital strategy, but they invest in new technology and deliver it across their entire business.
The important thing to realise is that not every business needs to be considered ‘leading’ in order to have a good online presence. A small business owner in the floral market, for example, who already works six days a week and oversees a team of part-time employees may not have the time to develop and deliver a comprehensive digital strategy. But that’s where online tools can help.
Maximise your online presence
There are dozens of bigger-picture ways you can improve your digital presence right now, but if you’re already short on time, focus on the small – and most important – stuff first.
Optimising your website should be the sole focus of any owner who hasn’t paid a lot of attention to it in the past. When done right, it’s a sure-fire way to boost sales and grow your customer base. You don’t have to spend hours studying the intricacies of SEO, but you should use resources like Google AdWords to find keywords that are relevant to your industry.
Blogging is another easy way to stay front-of-mind online. Put aside one hour every week for posting a new blog on a topic relevant to your business – and your customers – and publish it across all your social platforms. Alternatively, reach out to leaders in your space and ask if you can guest blog for them. Monitoring social media – and responding to messages from your followers – is also easy to do but can pay huge dividends.
Use online tools to create more time for your business needs
Once you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your online presence, be consistent about managing them and improving digital processes. And you can find the time to do that by cutting down on other parts of your business life.
Consider the most time-intensive tasks in your day-to-day. Rostering employees – especially across more than one store – can be mentally draining as well as a time-sink. An online rostering solution can simplify the entire process by publishing rosters and notifying your employees, managing leave requests and unavailability, and even recognising peaks and troughs in your sales to adjust your roster accordingly.
Similarly, a to-do list on a notepad is no longer a smart use of your time, nor is it effective at showing what’s really important for your business. An online tasking tool lets you search and review jobs with a tap of your device, and notify you about any upcoming deadlines.
With a little research and consistency, you’ll discover it will not only boost profits, but also streamline the most time-consuming tasks.