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.
Is cloud accounting safe? Here’s everything you need to know
People all across the world are using the cloud to access anything from email to family photos (via Facebook and Instagram) to their favourite tunes as you read this (e.g., Spotify). You’re almost certainly one of them. You’re almost certainly one of them. Individuals, however, aren’t the only ones who profit from seamless connectivity and real-time backups.
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’s no denying that the cloud is changing the way software solutions are delivered to expanding enterprises, but this poses a critical question: Should you trust the cloud with your sensitive data?
If you’re interested in learning more about cloud security, the following information can help you make a better decision.
Is your financial data secure with cloud accounting?
Stories about data breaches and hackers may have you wondering if cloud accounting is as safe as everyone claims.
Before we answer that, let’s look at a cloud accounting alternative: self-hosted accounting software. Data kept on a server at your office or business may appear secure and convenient, but if a fire, flood, or coffee spill occurs, all of your files might be lost in an instant (which nearly happened to businesses like Absolute Drywall and Southern Services & Equipment). Furthermore, data on a computer is still susceptible to viruses and ransomware.
Fortunately, cloud-based software can help you reduce these dangers. Cloud-based accounting software provides protection against threats to your data, from backups and encryption to 24/7 onsite security.
Although no system is completely secure, cloud-based software is unquestionably safer than older choices. In fact, according to Microsoft, 91 per cent of expanding and sophisticated business owners felt that migrating to the cloud improved their organization’s security.
Do you have any questions about how all of this works? We’re grateful you inquired.
How is your data protected in the cloud?
You might think of “the cloud” as bits of data floating around in cyberspace, waiting to be used by an app or service. The truth is a little less sci-fi, but a lot safer.
Let’s take a look at four aspects that ensure cloud-based accounting is secure.
Cloud data is kept on physical servers that are connected to the internet and are generally lined up in enormous rooms or warehouses. To ensure that data does not reside in a single location, vendors frequently have servers throughout multiple states or even continents.
Intuit, for example, has servers in various data centres for redundancy. This means that numerous copies of your data are stored in order to virtually prevent the danger of data loss due to equipment failures, power outages, or natural disasters.
Furthermore, Intuit’s data centres and offices are secured 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Did you remember to save the expense records from the previous month? Are you sure you didn’t make a duplicate of those invoices? With cloud-based accounting, you can avoid these (and a slew of other) questions.
But we’re not talking about a single backup file. To ensure that your data is never lost, multiple copies of it are saved in multiple locations. You enjoy the convenience of automatic offsite storage without the additional effort and cost of manually producing and keeping physical backup copies.
And, if something goes wrong with your system, all of your data will be instantaneously available from any computer with an internet connection—all with little to no work on your side.
(Digital) Paper Trails
Advanced makes advantage of a unique always-on activity log and audit trail feature, which both records every login to the service as well as any changes made to any financial transaction. These functionalities cannot be disabled by the user.
The audit trail is an easy-to-read history of all changes to a given transaction, while the always-on activity log is a complete record of actions. That means nothing can happen to your records without your knowledge or that of your accountant. Plus, if you need to trace a transaction back to its source, you’ll always have a paper trail.
Cloud-based accounting software uses encryption to move and store data. In other words, your information is rewritten into a code. For example, Advanced utilises 128-bit SSL encryption, which is the same technology used by some of the world’s top banking institutions.
Advanced is a VeriSign Secured product. VeriSign is the leading secure sockets layer (SSL) Certificate Authority.
Best practices for keeping data safe in the cloud?
According to McAfee’s 2019 Cloud Adoption & Risk Report, 89.6 percent of organisations experience at least one insider threat incident each month. This can be due to malicious activity, but usually involves instances where sensitive information goes to the wrong people.
Cloud service vendors go to great lengths to keep data safe, but you have an important role in the process, too. Here are three important steps you can take to maximise your cloud security.
Define Your User Permissions
First and foremost, get the appropriate information into the hands of the right people. With specific roles and user permissions, QuickBooks Online Advanced makes this simple, allowing you to delegate tasks and control access to critical data.
Everyone you invite to use Advanced must generate their own password, which no one else can see. You’ll also get multiple permission levels, allowing you to limit each user’s access privileges.
You might, for example, give a sales rep access to sales transactions such as invoices and estimates but not to anything else.
Change Passwords Regularly
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.
Stay On Alert for Fraud
One of the most significant difficulties facing today’s small business owners is fraud protection. Data protection can appear to be a difficult task, especially if you have limited resources. Following these three guidelines, however, can assist you in detecting and preventing fraud:
- 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.
Legal best practices (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.”
- If law enforcement ever asks for data from your company, you’ll want to comply without jeopardising the security of your data. A zero-knowledge cloud provision can be used to accomplish this. Because you own the only decryption key to your data, government enforcement must contact you directly rather than going through your cloud provider.
- By collaborating with you to create a service-level agreement, your cloud provider can help you avoid frequent legal difficulties (SLA). This could include a “force majeure” clause that protects you from unforeseen events.
As a general rule, the more writing you have, the better.
Ready to Make the Switch?
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.