As a small business owner, some of your effort is focused on getting the word out about your business, attracting new customers, making more sales and eventually scaling up.
So, what can a small business do to grow its customer base and evolve the business?
A Statistics Canada report revealed that as of 2020, 92% of Canadians were using the internet. The report went on to show that more than four in five Canadians shopped online in 2020, which was a 73% increase since 2018. Given these numbers, having an online presence for your small business can be a step in the right direction.
According to a 2020 Payments Canada report, Canadians consistently choose new payment methods with supporting numbers showing that 15% of Canadians made purchases through gaming devices, 18% made purchases through apps and 34% made purchases through wearable devices.
If your business isn’t already online, then having an online/virtual presence could help you get noticed by more customers. Teaming this online presence with a variety of online payment options and the right combination of online distribution channels can help you tap into potential growth opportunities.
Not only could your business be more visible and accessible to a variety of potential customers from around the country or even the world, but marketing and selling on these channels may be cost effective. It may also help you establish a personality for your business to build trust with customers.
Following are some tips that may help you improve your online presence and choose the right combination of distribution channels.
How to build your presence online:
If you haven’t already, consider starting a website for your business: many customers have the World Wide Web at their disposal any time of the day. It's a great tool to search or discover new things. Your brand is more likely to be noticed by potential customers just by being present online. You can choose from a variety of website development platforms to build your website depending on the features like the price, ease of use, design features and more.
Something you may want to consider is looking at Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services or SEO tools that could help you improve your online presence. Google My Business (GMB) is just one of the tools that you can use. Depending on the design and content of your website, a GMB account may help your business gain visibility by being listed in Google’s search results for relevant search terms.
Consider offering your customers a variety of online payment options with online payment solutions: There are many unique online payment solutions that may enable efficiency for you and your customers, such as custom/hosted checkouts, customizable receipts and payment profiles, to name a few. Check to ensure that the online payment solutions are Payment Card Industry (PCI DSS) Data Security Standard compliant to help you protect your customers’ information. They also should offer fraud management tools like 3D Secure payments and card tokenization that could help protect your business against fraudulent transactions.
Consider investing in one or a few social media channels (SM): Each SM platform is distinct in its purpose, the audiences it caters to, the features it offers businesses and its marketing capabilities. For example, LinkedIn is known as a B2B and career-oriented SM platform that people use to build professional connections. It can be a great platform to generate industry-specific leads, but it may not work as well with strictly promotional content. Getting familiar with these nuances will guide you in choosing a suitable combination of platforms for your business.
Considering the right distribution channels for your business:
Before signing up for one or more distribution channels, there are a few things about your business that you may want to reflect on:
The nature of your business: do you mass-produce products or sell hand-made items?
The nature of your product: can it endure long delivery times?
Your accepted payment methods: do you accept online payments?
Your target audience: are you selling to end consumers or other businesses?
Your goals: what are you looking to gain out of these online distribution channels?
Your distribution needs: do you require delivery services?
Now that you have a clear idea of your business and its needs, you can use this information to help you choose one or more online distribution channels.
You could browse through and choose from the ton of options available to you like general online marketplaces, one of the many SM platforms or an online auction marketplace, depending on the ones that fit your requirements and goals best.
We understand that as a business owner you wear many hats and play many roles, we are here to help with banking advice that can help you move forward with confidence.
Want to talk about your business banking needs? Contact your TD Account Manager or an Account Manager near you.
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