The opportunities for putting a business online are almost infinite, regardless of the sector it is in.
At the most basic level it is rare for a business to not have a website. It is an almost-universal expectation from customers for even the smallest and most local of businesses.
In its simplest form a website is an online brochure for a business’ goods or services, but arguably they are missing a trick if they don’t use the opportunities for marketing, interaction and administration that a website offers.
Even a basic website can do much more than simply being a brochure. Including a news and blog page allows the business to keep clients up to date with its activities and share useful information. Including customer testimonials and recommendations and having a contact form can help with marketing and handling enquiries.
These days additional software will allow for Customer Relationship Management, so that a business can capture contact details and respond quickly to queries by interacting with clients.
Including facilities for viewing products or services, placing orders and paying online are time saving and cost effective.
A website is only one part of the digital operations and marketing mix
There is software via cloud computing that allows a business and its accountants to update records and communicate with each other in real time.
Similarly, tracking orders from initial order through final delivery, invoicing and payment can be done online and for customers the option of tracking goods they have ordered can be helpful.
Digital confirmation of receipt of goods or satisfactory completion of service can also help resolve disputes and proof of debt when pursuing payment.
Some of these operations can be outsourced to other businesses to manage, but if security and confidentiality are concerns, a business might prefer to keep them confidential and manage them in-house.
Backing up data and records is vital and can be inexpensive if done via cloud services, as is remote IT support.
Then, a subject we have touched on before, there are the online opportunities for marketing a business. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others are now part of the mixture.
For some businesses a regular e-newsletter using a properly managed database service that includes regular analysis of interactions by recipients can also be a worthwhile investment.
We recently came across a business that has taken on board the digital message and runs entirely from the owner’s iPad. Every activity for his tyre fitting and MOT workshop is recorded on an iPad so when the owner goes home for the night, he carries his entire business with him, including monitoring the site security cameras 24 hrs a day.
(Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)