How to set up your business for online sales in 5 easy steps
Putting things on an internet marketplace is one way that many traditional stores may diversify their revenue streams and grow their businesses. If your store is already accessible online, this means devoting more of your time to improving the quality of your website in order to provide customers with a streamlined purchasing experience.
It could mean holding sales on social media or coming up with innovative ways to sell your items while keeping an ear to the conversations happening around the world.
It may also encourage you to establish new business alliances and distribute your wares over a number of other websites.
If you’ve never done business online before, the following five steps should make things easier for you.
1. Identify your best online marketplace
On the internet, you can find a great number of websites that were developed for the sole purpose of assisting you in the process of selling your products. So it’s simple to make the mistake of selling your products on the wrong platform. Because of this, you should begin your venture into e-commerce by locating the online marketplace that is most suitable for both your products and your clients.
The following are some factors to take into consideration:
- Your products’ look and use. You should create a shop on Etsy if the items you sell are handmade and/or artsy. You should sell them on Amazon if they are manufactured in a factory and have a greater potential for commercial success.
- Where your customers hang out. Think about the customers who purchase your items. Do you think it’s likely that they’ll make purchases on eBay? Alternately, if your products have a strong regional appeal, you can have more success selling them on Facebook Marketplace.
- Your time. Constructing your website with Shopify or Squarespace is the best option if you want to keep a consistent brand and have the greatest control. On the other hand, it requires a greater investment of time, and only you can decide if this is a problem for you or not.
- Your resources. Before you start building your website, there is one more thing you need to think about: how you will market it. If you have the email addresses of your consumers and believe they would be interested in hearing from you online, that is fantastic. Or, perhaps your company already has a sizable following on social media, and you can use it to drive traffic to your website. If you don’t engage with your clients online, you might find that selling your products on Amazon or another global platform is more beneficial to your business.
2. Capture your products in the best light
Literally. If you want to sell your things online, each individual item needs to have a photo, a name, and possibly even a description of what it is. If it’s an article on clothing, you need to explain the material, provide care recommendations, or give an example of when it would be appropriate to wear it.
Tell the customer what it is capable of doing if it is a kitchen utensil, just as you would if they turned to you in the store and asked, “What is this?”
However, taking images of each product that is of high quality is really necessary if you want to attract customers who are shopping online.
After all, you now have a great deal of competition, which consists of every other internet vendor selling products that are comparable to yours.
To get started, you should think about the ideal setting for photographing your wares.
Invest some effort into the finer aspects, such as the lighting and the background. If you need someone to model the product while it is being used, you could even recruit the help of a friend.
If you find all of that information to be too daunting, you can hire someone with a little bit more experience from a gig-work site such as Behance or Fiverr. These sites can assist in connecting creatives with work opportunities in their local communities.
3. Add products to your store
You could be more worried in getting your products online as quickly as possible rather than perfecting your own online retail space at this point in time. Let’s zero in on a few websites that make the setup process speedy and simple.
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Good news! When you are prepared to begin selling on Etsy, the setup process is simple.
You just need to upload the logo for your company, fill out the “about me” area, make a statement about your shop, and describe your store’s policies.
Etsy provides you with supplemental materials that might help you list your products and market them in a more efficient manner.
You may have an Etsy shop up and operating in a day, although the amount of time it takes you will depend on how many things you plan to list.
Having said that, it is possible that your initial order will not arrive for several weeks. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to place a strong emphasis on topics like search engine optimisation (SEO) and shop configuration.
eBay offers a variety of options to business owners who are interested in selling their products on the website.
The other piece of beneficial information is that opening a shop on eBay does not require a significant amount of time investment.
Having said that, the process may prove to be puzzling for certain individuals, particularly those who are new to the world of online shopping.
If this describes your situation, you have the option of commissioning the setup of your store to one of several other businesses.
In a market where there is a lot of competition, they can help your company stand out as a reputable and expertly run retail establishment.
If you choose to sell your wares on Amazon, you will have access to millions of potential customers in addition to receiving excellent analytics on your brand’s performance. But before you rush into using Amazon as a venue for selling your products, consider the following:
- It is becoming increasingly difficult to get certified to sell on Amazon’s marketplace. You will need to give a significant amount of documents right off the get.
- It is possible that you will experience difficulties if you plan to sell things on Amazon when the coronavirus is active. Beginning in April 2020, it is possible that Amazon will give priority to the delivery of necessary household and medical products. They may also give priority to important items over shipments from third parties or shipments that are not vital to their warehouses.
4. Connect your online store to your QuickBooks account
Because it can interact with a wide range of e-commerce platforms, QuickBooks makes it far simpler than ever before to maintain accurate financial records for your company.
- Choose a platform, and then launch your custom store through the vendor’s website.
- Follow the instructions provided by your platform to connect your online store to QuickBooks.
- QuickBooks lets you to process, track, and deposit consumer payments immediately.
5. Tell your customers where to find you
Tell your customers about your online shopping space once it’s up and running. Here are a few locations you should be spreading the word:
- In a Google search. Many businesses have Google listings, which allow clients to easily find directions or write a review. Not only is creating a Google My Business listing free, but you also have control over the information that visitors view. Aside from a fantastic introduction paragraph, make sure to include a link to your e-commerce site so customers may begin purchasing.
- On your physical storefront. If you’ve had to close your doors for a while, try this. Customers that have been loyal to you want to know where they can find you. You may also make it simple for them. You may make a QR code and display it in your window to direct consumers to your website. Customers can also be directed to coupons or your social media profile using QR codes.
- Everywhere your market. Posting about your new site on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter is a smart idea. Include a link to your website in your Instagram bio. Then post a snapshot of your new shop location. Encourage your followers to promote your new site in their own stories or posts in exchange for a discount on their first purchase.
- In an email or text message. If your company has a database of consumer email addresses or phone numbers, now is the time to put them to good use. Customers who are loyal enough to request coupons and points be sent to their phones may be interested to learn that you have an online store. Simply be considerate in your messaging and provide them with the option to opt out of future communications. Two services that can help are EZTexting and Textedly.
Meet your customers where they are—online
Small enterprises are operated by the most fearless and courageous people. However, even minor setbacks can wreak havoc on sales and foot traffic. You already have what it takes to be successful as a business owner. Challenges and setbacks are your breakfast. There are also materials available to assist you along the road. Going online doesn’t mean you have to give up your desire of having a storefront. Quite the opposite is true. Simply said, it’s a leap into another realm, and it’s a popular option among clients.
Can you trust cloud accounting? Here is all the information you require
As you read this, people all around the world are utilising the cloud to access anything from their email to family photos (via Facebook and Instagram) to their favourite tunes. The cloud can store anything from emails to photos to music (e.g., Spotify). You can very much count on becoming one of them. You can very much count on becoming one of them. However, people aren’t the only ones who may benefit from having seamless connectivity and real-time backups. Businesses can as well.
According to IDG’s 2018 cloud computing survey, 73% of businesses have at least one application or a component of their enterprise computing infrastructure hosted in the cloud. Furthermore, business organisations estimated that they will invest $3.5 million on average in cloud apps, platforms, and services this year. Growing and complex firms were next, with a total of $889,000 (up from $286,000 in 2016).
There is no doubting that cloud computing is altering the manner in which software solutions are provided to growing businesses. However, this leads to the question: Should you rely the cloud with your personal information?
The information that is presented here can assist you in arriving at a more sound choice if you are considering expanding your knowledge of cloud security.
Is cloud accounting safe for your financial information?
If you’ve been following news stories about data breaches and hacking, you might be wondering if cloud accounting is really as secure as everyone says it is.
First, let’s take a look at self-hosted accounting software as an alternative to cloud accounting before we answer your question. It may appear that the data saved on a server at your office or business is safe and convenient, but in the event of a disaster such as a fire, flood, or even a spill of coffee, all of your files might be gone in the blink (which nearly happened to businesses like Absolute Drywall and Southern Services & Equipment). In addition, information stored on a computer is still vulnerable to threats such as viruses and ransomware.
Software that is hosted in the cloud can, fortunately, assist you in mitigating some of these risks. Cloud-based accounting software offers multiple layers of defence against potential risks to your data, including backups, encryption, and onsite security that is staffed around the clock.
Cloud-based software is undeniably safer than earlier options, despite the fact that no system can be guaranteed to be totally secure. In point of fact, according to Microsoft, ninety-one percent of owners of growing and sophisticated businesses believed that moving their operations to the cloud increased the security of their organisations.
Do you have any queries about how this is all put together and how it functions? We are appreciative that you made the enquiry.
How is the cloud secure for your data?
One way to conceptualise “the cloud” is as a collection of data points dispersed over the internet, just waiting to be accessed by a programme or service. The reality is a little less fantastical than science fiction, but it’s a lot more secure.
Let’s take a look at four components that contribute to the overall safety of cloud-based accounting.
The information that is stored in the cloud is done so on actual servers that are linked to the internet. These servers are typically arranged in rows in large rooms or warehouses. The widespread distribution of a vendor’s servers across a number of states or even continents helps ensure that customer data is not stored in a single physical place.
For example, Intuit distributes its servers across multiple data centres so that they are always available. This indicates that a large number of backup copies of your data are kept in order to virtually eliminate the risk of losing data as a result of a hardware failure, a disruption in power supply, or a natural disaster.
In addition, the offices and data centres owned and operated by Intuit are guarded around the clock, every day of the week.
Have you brought the records of the previous month’s expenses that you incurred into this month? Are you certain that you did not create a copy of those invoices for yourself? You may avoid these questions and a whole host of others by using accounting software that is hosted in the cloud.
However, we are not discussing a single backup file at this time. Multiple backup copies of your data are kept in a variety of secure locations to reduce the likelihood that any of it will ever be lost. You get all of the benefits of automatic offsite storage without having to deal with the additional hassle and expense of physically creating and storing physical copies of your data.
In addition, in the event that something goes wrong with your system, all of your data will be instantly accessible from any computer that has an internet connection, and you won’t have to do much, if any, extra work to make this happen.
(Digital) Paper Trails
Advanced makes use of a one-of-a-kind always-on activity log and audit trail feature, both of which record every login to the service as well as any adjustments that are made to any financial transaction. Both of these features record every time a user accesses the service. This function also gives a comprehensive audit trail of any changes that have been made. It is not possible for the user to turn off these features in any way.
The audit trail is a history of all the changes that have been made to a specific transaction that is presented in an easy-to-read format, whereas the always-on activity log is an exhaustive record of the actions that have been carried out. Both logs are kept continuously. This gives you the peace of mind that your books won’t be tampered with in any way without either your knowledge or the knowledge of your accountant. In the event that you need to trace the origin of a transaction all the way back to its beginning, there will always be a paper trail for you to follow in the event that this becomes necessary.
Encryption is utilised both during the data transfer and storage processes by cloud-based accounting software. To put it another way, the information you provide is converted into a code. For instance, Advanced makes use of 128-bit SSL encryption, which is the same technology that is utilised by a number of the most reputable financial institutions in the world.
VeriSign has validated Advanced as a secure product. The secure sockets layer (SSL) Certificate Authority market is dominated by VeriSign.
What are the best procedures for protecting data on the cloud?
According to the 2019 Cloud Adoption & Risk Report published by McAfee, 89.6 percent of organisations face at least one insider threat incident per month. This could be the result of nefarious behaviour, but more often it is the result of sensitive information being disclosed in error to the wrong individuals.
The providers of cloud services go to considerable lengths to ensure the safety of customer data, but you also play a vital part in the process. The following is a list of three critical actions that you may take to maximise the security of your cloud storage.
Your User Permissions Should Be Set
The first and most important step is to ensure that the proper information is shared with the appropriate individuals. QuickBooks Online Advanced simplifies this process by providing distinct roles and user permissions. This enables you to delegate duties while while maintaining control over access to essential data.
Everyone you invite to use Advanced needs to generate their own password, which you cannot see and no one else can see either. You will also receive several permission levels, which will enable you to restrict the access privileges of individual users.
You might, for instance, grant a sales representative access only to sales-related documents like invoices and estimates, but not to any other files or information.
Alter Passwords Frequently
One of the simplest in-house strategies for bolstering your cloud security is to change your team members’ passwords. Passwords should be changed at least once every 30 days. Simply make them as long as possible and include numbers and special characters.
Consider multi-factor authentication if you want to add an extra layer of security.
Keep an Eye Out for Fraud
Protection from fraud is one of the most serious challenges that proprietors of small businesses in the modern era must face. Protecting sensitive information can appear to be a challenging endeavour, particularly if you have little available tools. However, if you follow these three rules, it will be easier for you to identify and prevent fraudulent activity:
- Only work with companies and people you’ve vetted and know you can trust. Always double-check any unwanted contact with third parties.
- Malware should be avoided at all costs. Clicking on advertising, links, or opening attachments from unknown sources may expose your personal information.
- Train your personnel to be on the lookout for possible scams. Because your staff are your first line of defence, make sure they know what to do if any red flags appear.
Optimum legal procedures (read the fine print)
There are a few legal issues to consider while switching to cloud-based accounting:
- Accountants are legally and ethically obligated to preserve their clients’ sensitive and personal information, according to the CPAs . When it comes to selecting a cloud vendor, the CPA suggests including a phrase in the service contract requiring the vendor to “take responsibility and legal duty for data confidentiality.”
- In the event that law enforcement ever makes a request for data from your organisation, you will want to comply with their request without putting your data’s safety at risk. This can be accomplished by utilising a cloud provision that has zero-knowledge requirements. Because you are the only one who has access to the decryption key for your data, law enforcement agencies are required to make direct contact with you rather than going through your cloud provider.
- Your cloud provider can help you stay out of regular legal trouble if the two of you work together to draught a service-level agreement (SLA). This could include a clause known as “force majeure,” which safeguards you against the occurrence of unanticipated events.
As a general rule, the more writing you have, the better.
Are You Prepared to Change?
Does switching to cloud-based accounting sound like a good idea for your company?
To summarise, cloud accounting is increasingly becoming the prefered accounting option for growing firms, owing to its increased security and ease of use. Make careful to establish your employees’ permissions and keep an eye out for unusual activities in the cloud to maximise your security. Finally, don’t forget to read the fine print when it comes to legal matters.