You finally bit the bullet, and you took your business online… Good for you! So what type of operational changes, training, and communication strategies have you deployed? What’s that? You thought you only needed to purchase the technology, and everything would fall into place? If only that were true!
The fact of the matter is, even businesses that do not provide the ability to transact online, are implementing an online culture simply to become more relatable to the growing population of online users. An Internet presence with the ability to socially engage has become a marketing standard for all types of businesses, but is even more crucial for companies that have incorporated shopping carts, or online auctions. Believe it or not, this is not limited to the world of retail. Business customers have the same level of expectation for quality service, and overall experience that they enjoy when they are shopping for personal items.
So how does a business develop an online culture? Well, the first step would be to learn the language, and of course, the etiquette. The last thing you want to do is look like the guy vacationing in Hawaii with the straw hat, flower shirt, and plastic lei. Like any community, the locals can quickly detect whether you’re an outsider. Submerge yourself, and develop a good digital strategy that allows your customers to interact with your company. Provide them with content that is relevant to their business, or their lives. Encourage feedback, and excel in transparency.
Within your brick and mortar location, references to your online business should be a part of your sales collateral, and your staff’s vocabulary. Customers who physically frequent your facility should be encouraged to reference your site for information that will keep them connected to your business. For this reason, your site should be updated regularly, and your staff should be fluent in the site features available to customers. Drive participation with incentives that require activity. The online experience should include some form of entertainment. The Internet provides many ways to be creative.
This is just a quick overview to get you started in the thought process. If you are intimidated by the idea of developing your online business, then you may want to hire an experienced Online Director, or an outside consultant. If you don’t feel it’s worth the effort or expense, then you may not completely grasp the extent of the online opportunity. So let me put it in perspective… Would you rather be Blockbuster Video or Netflix?
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