How to Grow Your Online Business With Online Sales

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    Online sales may only make up about 9 per cent of the Australian retail market. However, that doesn't mean that an online business isn't worth setting up.

    Whether you already have a business or not, expanding into the digital world is great. But you need to know how to set up an eCommerce site to take advantage of that traffic.

    Read on to learn why you should start an online business and how to do it.

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    Why Grow an Online Business

    Online sales are an excellent way to earn money with a new or existing business. If you haven't sold anything online before, you may not know how it can benefit you outside of more revenue.

    Fortunately, increasing your earnings with an eCommerce store offers more advantages than an increase in earnings. Consider the following reasons why you should grow your new or current business online.

    More Control

    When you set up an online business, you have more control over how you run things. You don't need to worry about buying or leasing a storefront, so you can keep your inventory in your home or a storage unit.

    Because of that, an online business can offer you more choice over when and where you work. If you don't want to run a brick-and-mortar store during traditional business hours, you don't have to.

    Instead, you can run your business the way you want to run it. That way, you can maintain control of your work and overall life.

    More Customers

    Another one of the benefits of eCommerce businesses is that they have access to more customers. As long as you're willing to ship your products to a specific city, you can sell to people there.

    When you rely on a physical store, you can only sell to people in that area. That can make it significantly harder to build and scale your business without having to invest a lot of money into more locations.

    Plus, if you or your customers move, you can still run your business. You won't have to build up a new customer base when you set up a new location.

    More Income Streams

    An online business offers more possibilities regarding how you earn money. Of course, you can sell products on your website and make money there.

    However, you should also use platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce and Square. That way, your WooCommerce store will be just one extra way to earn money online.

    You can also continue to sell products in person if you already have a brick-and-mortar store. Your WooCommerce store is just one of the many ways your business can earn money.

    More Flexible

    Another benefit of setting up an online business is that it can be more flexible than a physical store. Whether you decide to move or not, you can run your business exactly how you want to.

    Maybe you have kids to take care of, or you work a part-time job while you start your business. Either way, being able to run your shop when you have the time can make it easier to start and grow your online shop.

    You won't have to worry about not being able to afford a lease or having to operate within specific hours.

    Never Been Easier

    It's never been easier to start or grow an online business. Websites are affordable, and you can find hosting for less than $10 per month, depending on the host you select.

    WordPress and WooCommerce are both free to set up, so you don't need a ton of money. Social media also provides free advertising to help you get customers.

    If you've always wanted to start a business, now is the time. The internet has made entrepreneurship more affordable and achievable for more people.

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    Moving Your Business Online

    Perhaps you have an existing brick-and-mortar store, but you want to build an online enterprise. If you already have a thriving business, you can move it online to help grow.

    However, you need to consider a few factors, especially if you want to close your physical store. That way, your business won't suffer due to the change.

    WordPress and WooCommerce is an excellent place to set everything up. Then, you can enjoy the following benefits of selling online.

    Keep Customers

    As you set up your online business, be sure to keep customers from your current store. You can do this with an email list or by setting up social media accounts.

    Encourage customers to sign up for emails or follow you on social media. That way, they'll receive updates regarding the transition for your business.

    Entice them to sign up or follow you by offering unique discounts or sales. Even if you plan to keep your current store open, it doesn't hurt to get customers to check out your eCommerce store.

    Focus on the Foundations

    When setting up your online store, you need to focus on the foundations to help increase online sales down the line. You should choose a hosting account, then install WordPress and a theme that works with WooCommerce.

    Selecting the right domain name for your business is also crucial. If possible, get the same name as your current store. However, look for something similar so that your current customers can find you.

    You may also want to update your business plan to reflect your online operations. That way, you can get a business loan or other funding if necessary.

    How to Set Up WooCommerce

    Now that you know why you should start or move your business online, you should learn how to set everything up. WooCommerce is an excellent place to build your store.

    Follow these steps to start and grow your online business.

    Select Your Website Host

    Unfortunately, WordPress and WooCommerce don't come with website hosting. Compare a few hosting companies and their features, bandwidth, and cost.

    That way, you'll be able to decide which hosting plan is right for you. Some hosts feature a one-click WordPress installation.

    You should also look for a host with fast loading speeds and plenty of bandwidth. That way, your shop will be able to stay up, even as you get more traffic.

    Choose a host with multiple plans so that you can upgrade as your shop grows. Then, you won't have to take your shop down to migrate to a new host.

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    Install WordPress and WooCommerce

    After you select a host, you'll need to install WordPress. If the host doesn't have a special installation feature, you'll need to download the software and install it manually on your hosting account.

    Then, you can visit your domain and add /wp-admin to the end to sign in to your admin panel. When you log in, go to Plugins and Add New to search for WooCommerce and install it.

    WooCommerce is free, and you can install it in a few minutes. Then, you can set up everything for your store.

    Go Through the Setup Process

    Now, go to your list of plugins and activate WooCommerce. You'll be able to access the WooCommerce Setup Wizard to get your online store ready for customers.

    The wizard will walk you through all of the steps you need to take to start and grow your online business. Be sure to follow each step as best as you can so that you don't miss any important details.

    Determine How You'll Accept Payments

    PayPal is one of the best payment methods that work with WooCommerce. Your customers can pay with their PayPal balance or a bank account or card that they've connected to PayPal.

    Another option is Stripe, which is great if your customers don't use PayPal because they can pay with a credit card. Consider accepting both options to offer more choices to your customers.

    Set Up Shipping Methods

    Next, you should decide how much you'll charge for shipping. WooCommerce automatically offers two shipping zones, one for Australia and another for all other countries.

    You can set a flat rate for shipping to each zone, or you may offer free shipping. Free shipping can be a great way to attract customers, but be sure that you charge enough for products to cover the cost of shipping.

    Consider Add-Ons

    You don't need to do anything else to finish setting up your store. However, you may want to install some add-ons to expand the capabilities of your store, such as:

    • Automated taxes
    • Storefront theme
    • Facebook
    • Mailchimp

    The automated taxes add-on will calculate sales tax for you so that you will be able to pay that to the government. If you don't have a theme in mind, Storefront can be useful.

    Connecting to Mailchimp is great for email marketing, while adding Facebook lets you use the social network with your store. Think about how you want to run your business to decide which add-ons are right for you.

    Add Products

    You've gone through the entire Setup Wizard, and you're ready to launch your store, but you need a few products first. Head to the Products area in your dashboard to add your first listing.

    With each product, you can add a name, description, photo, and other details. Add an inventory count so that you don't oversell physical products. And add shipping information, such as the weight and dimensions of the item.

    The Product data section lets you add attributes and create variable products. That way, you can sell items in different sizes and colours.

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    Track Orders

    Once you start getting orders to your WooCommerce store, you'll need to track them. The Orders section tells you everything, from the order number to the status.

    Use this screen to keep track of the orders you need to package and ship to customers. That way, you can keep from delaying orders and receiving angry messages from shoppers.

    You can also track orders for digital products, but you don't need to worry about shipping those. Still, the Orders page can tell you a lot about the success of your store so that you can get more online sales.

    Offer Coupons

    Another feature of WooCommerce is the ability to add coupons to give to your customers. Coupons aren't for every business, so consider if you want to provide them.

    A coupon can be a great way to thank a customer for their purchase and get them to come back. You can also use coupons to encourage people to buy on a specific day, such as a holiday.

    When setting up coupons, WooCommerce will let you set the type of discount, such as a percentage or a fixed amount. And you'll be able to place restrictions on what orders will qualify for the coupon.

    View Reports

    After you've had your shop open for a while, you may want to look at your reports. This feature will show you your online sales, such as the total amount you've made and how many orders you've received.

    If you find you aren't meeting your goals, you can figure out what to change. Maybe you decide to start marketing on social media more consistently, or you optimise your product descriptions to show up in Google search results.

    Be sure to look at your reports each month. Then, you'll be able to log your online sales in your accounting program, and you can focus on the strategies that help you grow your online business.

    Adjust Your Settings

    If you decide to change something after you set up your WooCommerce store, you can do that in your settings. There are settings tabs for:

    • General
    • Products
    • Shipping
    • Payments
    • Accounts & Privacy
    • Emails
    • Advanced

    You can use your settings to set your store address, enable tax rates, and manage your inventory. The email tab lets you customise the text of the emails your customers receive after placing an order.

    Use the shipping section to set up more shipping zones, such as one for Australia. That way, you can charge different amounts for domestic and international orders to increase your profit margins for online sales.

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    Online Sales Done Right

    Growing your online business may seem daunting, but once you start getting online sales, you'll want to continue. Then, you can enjoy the benefits, such as more control and flexibility.

    Be sure to go through the steps to set up your WooCommerce store. Soon enough, your ideal customers will find your store, and the sales will start to flow in.

    Are you unsure of how to set up your eCommerce website? View our services to learn how we can help.

    Owen is a business consultant with extensive experience in corporate affairs, external relations, strategy, marketing and engagement. He consults with clients to understand the challenges they face and create solutions to overcome. Owen holds an MBA, Master of Business, Bachelor of Business, Diploma of Investor Relations, and certifications in corporate innovation, digital marketing, and product management.

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