The latest month has been pretty tough for small businesses, and especially those involved in offline sales. According to the Commerce Department, retail purchases in stores, as well as money spent at bars and restaurants, fell 8.7 percent from the previous period.
At the same time, businesses that sell online experience remarkable growth in sales. Surprisingly, the majority of them sell the so-called non-essential items. Thus, online book stores have reached a record-breaking 777% growth. The purchases of toys and games, as well as sports goods, are right behind experiencing 182% and 131% growth, respectively. It brings us to the reassuring idea that though consumers’ budgets shrunk, people still are ready to spend beyond essentials.
With this in mind, retailers that haven’t yet considered adding online as the channel of sales need to do this more than ever.
Below, I’ll dwell on the reasons to go with online payments, as well as describe a way to enable online sales quickly and with no big pressure on the budget.
Why do you need to go with online payments?
In fact, there are plenty of reasons why online payment is a great option to consider, especially today. Starting with the fact that consumers have moved online, being locked in their homes, and finishing with the security and convenience of online payments. I want to name the three that are, in my opinion, most important.
Some couple of years ago, online payments were considered less safe than offline. Several big data breach scandals were enforcing that belief. However, even back then, insecurity of online payments was a big misconception. Right the opposite. Online payment gateways come with multiple security layers to keep financial data safe. Together with the security measures taken by credit card services, such as 3D-secure, for example, altogether, they provide the highest level of security of online payment operations.
2. Lower operational costs
Online payments, being the part of a bigger concept of digital payments, cost you much less than non-digital payments. According to a study by Visa, the average cost of processing digital payments, inclusive of both direct expenses and labor costs, is 57% less than non-digital payments. With digital payments, the time that you or your employees spend on payment processing drastically decreases. Also, you eliminate third-party transportation costs, shortages, bounced checks, and related equipment, which is a boost to your budget.
3. Adjusting to customer behavior
Consumer habits tend to change, addressing the changes that occur in the economy, society, technology, etc. So if businesses want to drive sales, they need to watch the changes and fine tune their approach to its customers, to be able to satisfy their needs. With all things COVID happening, consumer behaviour has changed rapidly, bringing people massively online. And it’s right the place where you should be, providing customers with the ability to pay online for what you sell.
I believe, you got the general idea – today, you simply can’t go without online payments if you want to keep going.
If you already had at least part of your sales online, you are halfway through. What you need is to make this extra step to, probably, tweak your website to be able to cope with more load, put some additional effort into SEO and other digital marketing activities. You might also look for some tools for managing your online business more efficiently (so don’t keep reading, I’m going to speak about a couple of such tools right below).
However, if all things online is a terra incognita for you (for whatever reason), you might be a bit frightened, or I’d rather say bewildered with where to start with enabling online sales. Just give me your attention for a couple of more minutes, as I want to share an actionable flow (or at least, inspirational ideas) with you.
Marketing and tech tools to easily enable online sales
1. Online payments
I’ve started with the necessity to go with online payments, and that’s probably the first thing to do.
There are plenty of solutions on the market, and with just a couple of hours of research, you’ll be able to find what would fit your business the best. But can I be so bold as to save you this time and suggest you start with Stripe?
- It’s super-secure – Stripe is one of those online payment processors that have proven the top level of security of its services for both vendors and their customers.
- It’s super affordable – Creating and managing your account in Stripe is free. Generally, Stripe charges you a flat rate of 2.9% + 30¢ per successful operation as long as you’re doing under $1 million in volume per year.
- It’s super convenient – Stripes supports multiple payment methods, including credit cards, mobile payments, and so on, which makes it super easy for customers to pay you. Moreover, people don’t need to have a Stripe account to be able to pay. A card, nothing else needed.
You might need, however, some help from tech-savvy guys to embed it as a payment gateway. But know what? Forget it. I’ll show you how to make the full use of Stripe payments even with no need for tech support. I’ll come to it in a moment.
2. Reach for customers
Next step to take is to reach for customers that massively moved online. Making a website sounds good. But do you have time and resources for it right now? You do? Great! You are not sure? Then look at the powers of social media. Again, there’s a various choice of what to go with, like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter (why not?), etc. All these platforms will give you reach for your audience, promote and sell your products or services.
But I would recommend you to take a closer look at Instagram.
In the past few years, the popularity of Instagram has changed consumer behavior. Today, more and more people use this platform for product discovery.
A survey by Facebook specifies that 83% of Instagrammers discover new products and services on the platform, 87% of people take action after seeing product information such as following a brand or visiting their website, and 54% of people purchase after seeing a product or service on Instagram.
Simply put, people are ready to discover and buy your product on this platform. All you need is to ensure that you make the most of this opportunity
To do so, you need to stick to three simple rules.
- Be active – It’s logical to let people know that even if your premises are closed to the public, you keep working, and thus encourage people to continue interacting with your business. So keep posting, follow your potential customers, be active – it needs not more than an hour of your time a day.
- Promote your products and services – The coolest thing about Instagram, that it gives you instruments to be super creative in demonstrating your products. It’s great if you are a professional photographer, but even if you are not, you can easily process your photos with a wide range of available filters, and they will look interesting and appealing. Also, you can share short videos, promoting either products of services that you offer. You can post them either in your Feed you in Stories (they work the best).
- Let customers easily pay right from the platform – You need to make it super easy for customers to pay for what they’ve just seen. And you can provide them with a simple possibility to do this.
Remember what I’ve written about making the most of Stripe? Here’s what I meant.
3. Ensure the simplest way to pay
In fact, what can be easier than pay with just one or two clicks and not need anything else than a card? And there are solutions that allow you to give your customers this opportunity.
Just think about it. You provide an instant payment link in your Instagram profile, clicking on which a customer appears on a simple checkout page. Does it look easy enough? There are tools that can help you with this, and Synder is one of them.
The app allows you to create a custom checkout page, powered by Stripe, and generates a code that you can either embed on your website and a link that you can either send directly to you customers, or share in your Instagram profile.
So when a customer clicks the Pay button, the payment goes directly to Stripe. So these tools work perfectly together.
Moreover, if you use accounting solutions like QuickBooks or Xero, Synder can make you even more good, as it will automatically bring your transactions from Stripe into these accounting tools. To learn more about it, please, take a look at this guide.
Basically, that’s it.
To sum up
I hope that this article will help you find some ideas of how you can quickly enable online sales. Should you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to share them in the comments.