Canadians are obsessed with shopping online, and a recent study by Canada Post highlighted how our infatuation is only increasing with time. A massive 80% of Canadians shopped online in the past 12 months, with our growing need for convenience and tailored shopping experience convincing consumers to open their wallets. Having a website for your business isn’t just a good idea, it’s practically become a necessity. Whether you’re a traditional retailer, providing a service, or are looking to operate exclusively online, launching your website takes careful planning and consideration. Read on as we provide tips on how to get your business online.
Write a Website Business Plan
A well-researched business plan should be considered a must for any aspiring ecommerce venture – even if you’ve previously developed one for traditional “offline” business. Start by considering your target markets and whether they have a large presence online? Do you have any rivals in the space? If so, are they online? Next, consider what the purpose of your website is? Will you be selling directly to customers, or using your website as more of a promotional and marketing tool? If applicable, consider talking to an accountant of a lawyer for issues to do with taxation, privacy and other legal rights and restrictions.
Reserve Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your digital address. You’ll want to secure a domain that’s instantly recognizable as linked to your brand, and one that’s easy for customers to fine. For a list of registration authorities around the world, visit the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This service will allow you to check if your preferred domain is available in Canada, and whether you can also secure it in other countries (such as .com, .co.uk, and .mx). The cost to register a domain name depends on which company you choose to go with. On average, it will cost around $10 – $30 for a one-year subscription.
Before Launching Your Website Think Social
Now that you’ve secured your chosen domain, you should immediately go to popular social media sites and try and secure handles, business pages to go along with your domain name. Online marketing efforts are concentrating more and more on social media, so it should be considered an essential marketing tool for your business. And, while you might not use the accounts immediately, you will have them forever.
Research the Correct Platform
In previous years, you’d need to enlist a website developer to create your website for you. Nowadays, there are a host of off the shelf platforms to choose from. Small Business BC’s website (and 31% of all internet sites) run on a platform called WordPress. This customizable platform is easy to manage and features plenty of unique-looking themes that will make your website stand out. Elsewhere, platforms like Squarespace and Wix offer an equally robust feature set and competitive pricing.
Websites move quickly, and your site may become outdated if you don’t stay on top of your skills. Read articles and attend seminars on how you can improve after launching your website. By learning about web tools, technologies, and trends as they emerge, you can make better decisions about how to improve your website, and generate more traffic or sales. At Small Business BC, we host regular Talk to an Expert sessions featuring our resident website expert. Available in-person or online via Skype, these one-on-one sessions are invaluable to help get your business online.