To “disrupt” has long been the goal of many up-and-coming businesses, but few could have predicted the wide-scale disruption a global pandemic could cause. Those who have pivoted to serving their customers online are finding gains far and above more traditional models. Regardless of industry, the time has come for everyone to rethink whether to take their business online.

Look around you – notice how the businesses that have survived the fallout of social isolation are those that have either boosted their online operations or took the bold first step towards a digital offering. If you’ve been considering how best to move your business online, take comfort in that it’s never been easier to do so. Understanding your goals will assist in guiding decisions such as what your online business offers, how it’s delivered, and the technology needed to grow well into the future.

What type of online business do I need?

Before deciding how to move your business online, first consider your business model and customer base. Organisations, from retailers to services, not-for-profits and schools, operate vastly differently and so will gain unique benefits from moving online. 

Taking your business online can transform how it operates and greatly improve the customer experience.

For example, do you need a full-service website that includes product-search, payment-processing, physical delivery and customer service built in? Or perhaps a simple digital shopfront will do the job, where items are listed for sale online and payments can be processed via the website or the point of sale. Consider your customer’s start-to-finish journey with each transaction, and how an eCommerce platform might simplify this experience. 

Here’s what an eCommerce platform can offer:

  • For online retailers: A shopping cart, payment gateway and settlement account will process your online purchases automatically. 
  • For services or utilities: A payment gateway will allow you to accept online payments for quotes or invoices, even if you don't sell products through your website.
  • For schools, not-for-profits and organisations: A payment app can tailor a smooth transaction process for parents, contributors or members.

Costs to factor in when moving online

Taking your business online can transform how it operates and greatly improve the customer experience. It can, however, also require some additional investment depending on your business needs. Typical expenses to factor in can include:

  • Development and maintenance: website or app
  • Digital marketing: Product photography, videos and social media marketing
  • Customer service: Delivery, returns and complaints.

Do I need security?

Much like a physical shopfront, you need to ensure your online store is reliably safe and secure. Firm digital security, coupled with regular maintenance, will help avoid payment fraud and keep your customers’ data safe

Security considerations to consider include:

  • Using a secure password: A simple password is like leaving the cash register open. Use a more secure pass-phrase to lock your online store.
  • Reviewing payments in real time: This could mean being alerted to transactions of a particular size or country of origin to confirm their legitimacy.
  • Authenticate transactions: This may take time in the short-run, but will reduce the likelihood of fraudulent transactions in the long-term. Securing customer data: Important customer information like credit card numbers must be secure (by ethics, and by law). 

Investing in the right eCommerce platform

The rise of self-service eCommerce platforms has made it easier than ever to create a digital shopfront. One example of a self-service eCommerce platform is CommBank’s Simplify, which allows you to:

  • Design an online store with no coding skills
  • Set up an online store to sell products to customers
  • Process sales and transactions with same-day card payments via your website, app or point-of-sale. 

When things start getting more complicated, it might be time to call in the experts. Additional features that may require extra resources include:

  • Deep customisation of your online store
  • Product photography and inventory maintenance
  • Product delivery, for either physical or digital goods.