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Guidance

How to take your business online

How to take your business online

Ready to set up your new, always open, digital shopfront on the World Wide Web? Find out what’s important to make the transition a success.

In the first half of 2016, around 94% of all Australians adults went online to bank, pay bills and buy or sell goods and services.1 Your customers are likely to be online and could already be searching for your details, talking about your products and uploading reviews of your business. 

So if you’re thinking about transitioning your business into the digital world, here are a few things to consider before you do.

Be sure going online is right for you

Your business is different to any other business. Going online may work for one but not another. To help you decide whether going online is the right move for your business, ask yourself:

  • Are your customers online?
  • What advantages will you gain if you go online?
  • Does going online fit with your business plan and digital strategy?
  • Can you fulfil the needs of your customers online?

Choose the right online platform

The first step to selling your goods and services online is to set up a digital shopfront to display them. Choose the online platform that your customers are interacting with and meets your needs and budget. The different channels available are:

Website

Creating a website lets you customise the shopping experience, however it often involves higher start-up costs and low initial traffic. Among the costs involved can be registering your web address, hosting your website and the site’s design.

Online marketplace

Selling your products on sites such as eBay and Etsy may have lower start-up costs and higher initial customer traffic compared with selling on your own site. Ensure you understand the seller fees so there are no nasty surprises when the bill comes. There may be a fee to list your item, commission to pay on sold items and transaction fees to the payment provider.

Social media

Using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be a quick, easy and cost-effective way to establish your online business presence. The challenge will be the time it takes for you to engage enough potential customers and maintain your relationships. It may also become labour intensive when you start to make more sales.

Organise your back end

Fulfilling orders and satisfying your customers requires the right systems. Key questions you need to answer are:

How will your deliver your goods and services?

Customers expect their goods to arrive quickly and safely. Good packaging is key – this means protecting your products in bubble wrap, packing peanuts and boxes, selecting a reliable postage provider and tracking goods in transit. 

How will you accept payments?

Of the many online payment options available, you’ll want to find one that meets your needs and provides the best customer experience.

What will be your customer service model? 

Your online customers should receive the same level of support as those who visit your store. Customers often feel encouraged to shop with you online if you display a clear refund and exchange policy, provide regular updates about their orders and respond quickly to their questions.

Leverage your existing business

Tapping into your knowledge, experience and relationships built from your time spent in your existing operations will make the transition easier. Some strategies to help with this include: 

  • Selling your most popular products online first
  • Asking your suppliers about the latest industry news
  • Prompting your existing customers to give you positive reviews online and refer new customers to you. 

1 Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), ACMA Communications Report 2015-16. This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice.