Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Top 3 Common Problems of Online Business

Having been a business owner myself, I can attest to the rising costs and problems associated with running a business in this day in age. As we come closer to running our lives in the digital sphere, it is more important than ever that we as business people pay close attention to how we are conducting our business and handling our unique challenges. Whether you operate solely online or a mix or you market to consumers or to business, these are some of the most common challenges that I have seen among my competitors and peers.

Not a Unique Product

What are you selling or offering? No matter if it is a service or physical product, it should have a unique market and niche. While you can hope to differentiate yourself from your competitors by use of marketing, it is much easier on the consumer to give them something unique to begin with. If you sell leather bracelets and 10 other sites also sell leather bracelets, what sets you apart? Do you offer unique colors, customization options, or are you simply at a lower cost? If you have competitors at every angle, you may want to offer a discount such as free shipping or a coupon code for multiple purchases, to entice customers to choose you. Remember, the power of the internet can help and hurt you. Just as easily as a customer can find your product, they can read reviews and search for your competitors. Give them a reason to choose you!

Expensive to Maintain

The process of running a business can be expensive and overwhelming if it isn’t managed correctly. By the time you pay for shipping costs, hosting services, all of your employees salaries and office supplies, the little things can add up quickly. To cut down on shipping costs, price around for a business rate. Places such as FedEx and UPS are often willing to give businesses a small discount for continued service. In terms of every day costs, make sure you are doing everything in your power to get the best quality at the lowest pricing.

If you currently host your website with one company, is there someone else who is willing to give you a cheaper rate? Comparing places like Hostgator, 1&1 or GoDaddy can give you an idea of what you should be paying. The most important step in comparison shopping is letting the other know that you’re shopping around. Instead of simply purchasing online, pick up the phone! By calling a sales department and telling them what you pay, they may be motivated to beat the price or give you additional add-ons.

Not enough Social Presence

Who is your brand? Do you give people the opportunity to interact with you online? Staying closed off on social media and company pages gives people the impression that you don’t want their business. While there is a fine line between being too open and not open enough, it is important to have an outlet for your customers. Social media shouldn’t just be a complaint hotline for your customers; it should be a two way dialogue! Post relevant content for them, give them new ideas about how to use your product, offer a promotion on social only to entice followers, give them a reason to positively engage. This can easily get overwhelming, as you may encounter a lot of people in the social world who would like to interact with you. Try hiring a professional social media specialist or working with an agency to beef up your strategy so that you can ultimately engage more with your customers and give them a reason to not only love the product, but to get to know the brand as well.

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