Setting up your own online business
Stay competitive amid the e-commerce boom
With the rise of the online platform, the Singapore e-commerce market is booming, expected to surpass S$7 billion by 2025. For existing companies, going online opens up alternate revenue streams. For new companies, it offers the ease of setting up with just a few clicks, and the bonus of forgoing high rental prices.
Here's how you can tap into this growing medium and kickstart your Internet Business in three easy steps:
1. Identify, secure and own your business name
You've spent a countless amount of time brainstorming and selecting a name that best represents your business. The last thing you want is to lose it to someone else even before your business get started. Register your business entity with ACRA, along with your unique domain name so you can use the same, consistent branding across your touchpoints.
Your new domain name can also be used to host your email address with Microsoft Outlook, so your brand remains consistent across all touch points.
2. Choose an e-commerce platform to set up and market your business
Your e-commerce platform is where you manage all your products, checkout, payment, and more. Apart from a website's ability to feature products, many internet business owners tend to overlook other essential features. Value-added features like abandoned cart recovery, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), product features, loyalty coupons and programs can mean the difference between a user-friendly customer experience and a frustrating one.
3. Set up a solid infrastructure
To keep up with the demands of a thriving online business, a comprehensive IT infrastructure is critical. Avoid the pitfalls of hefty hardware and software costs with a subscription model, which lets you skip the upfront costs and harness the latest laptops, productivity software and IT support, all for just a small monthly fee.
An online business is impossible without a solid broadband network. Once you've decided whether dynamic or static broadband would be a better fit for your business needs, choose a provider that offers high-speed connectivity and wide coverage.
As your internet business gains momentum, you'll need an IT ecosystem that scales up to meet your company demands. Ensure that you have constant access to office productivity tools to drive your day-to-day business operations with a solution that hosts all your data and files in the cloud, so you can manage and access them no matter where you are.
Most importantly, ensure that your business stays accessible to your customers. Consumers are increasingly expecting customer service to be accessible to them at all times, whether it's through live web chat, email or a simple call.
Forbes stresses the need for business to meet these expectations with a standard response time policy, recommending a window period of "no sooner than 4 hours and no later than 24 hours"[i].
Maximise your customer service relations with a communications system that lets you keep up with customer demands. Look out for a solution that streamlines your communications with a comprehensive suite of features like call hunting, hot desking and conferencing. If you're in the retail and service industry, it is also important that your solution accomodates your need for POS, Fax and DID lines.
Discussing the impact e-commerce has on the offline business' bottom line, Fred Argir, Chief Digital Officer for Barnes & noble, emphasises the necessity for businesses to stay competitive by jumping on the digital bandwagon.
"We've now gone to a buinsess where your best customer can be standing in your best store and with three touches of their thumb to a piece of glass, they can buy from your biggest competitor."[ii]
Given the disruptive power of e-commerce, an online business might not just be a preference but a necessity.