After you’ve made the decision to construct and operate a company website, you must design it for the purpose intended. Many startup home-based businesses want to run their entire business as a website, which is fine. The basic idea is that the cost to start such a site-based business is relatively low compared to starting a business with a physical location. If you’re using your home for your business, your rent and utilities are already taken care of— plus, you may be eligible for a tax deduction.
Sounds great, right? But there may be more involved than you think, because doing everything on your site means:
- Advertising your site (with search engines and offline)
- Presenting and marketing your products or services
- Taking the order and answering inquiries
- Changing prices and specs as necessary
- Accepting payment and providing secure-site assurance
- Processing the order correctly
- Providing customer service for questions and inquiries
- Performing follow-up maintenance on orders
- Providing information and facts
If you want to start and finish the sales transaction on your site, can you provide all of the above? How long will it take you to set up a site that can do all of these things? Is there software available that will fit your needs—or that you can adapt to? If one part of the process goes down, can you still serve your customers? What about customers who won’t order without actually talking to someone—are you equipped to handle them? Will you have a tollfree number and be available to answer calls?
Another approach is to provide all the information, sample requests, literature requests, and basic order information on your website. Then complete the order by phone, fax, or in person. If your product or service would sell better with a personal touch, give the customer the option of a human contact. You will be more successful if you conduct the transaction the way your customer wants it done, rather than simply doing what’s most convenient for you.
Keep the process simple for even non-tech-savvy customers. Remember, they have the money you want, so keep them happy while they’re spending it.