Over the past few months, many businesses have had to rethink how they reach their customers online. Incredibly, COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown have compressed a decade’s worth of retail innovation into just 120 days – including virtual sales floors, curb side pick-up and click-and-collect.

Moving to online selling will have many benefits. You are able to grow your business, find new customers and expand your product offering. Going online also improves your cash flow, raises your profile locally and may even eliminate the need for a physical store entirely.

The popular online store application, Shopify reported that between 13 March and 24 April 2020, new merchants on the Shopify platform grew by an incredible 60%. And if you’re worried that the online space will be too crowded, consider Shopify’s report that the number of consumers estimated to have made a purchase for the first time from any Shopify merchant grew about 68% during the same time period. These consumers continue to buy again and again, demonstrating that the online experience is here to stay.

So, whether you’re a cyber-sales guru or you’re just starting out, here is some advice from the e-commerce experts at Shopify and Xero for setting yourself up for online success. 

  1. Start with your most popular and profitable products, and build from this foundation.
  2. Work on local delivery and pick-up options, and focus first on engaging your existing customer base.
  3. Invest in your website and check-out process for high conversion rates. Payment software such as Payfast and Peach Payments both offer trusted and reliable options, and can be linked to your Cloud Accounting software.
  4. Find ways to elevate your customer and service experience by including tools like online chat and thank you notes. Personal touches are great.
  5. When delivering goods speed is key, as is communicating with your customers on a timely basis.

Cash is King, of course, so having a clear view of your cash flow will be critical. It will help you to make important decisions about what to prioritise and the areas which are providing the most return on investment. Here are some of the things you need to consider:

  1. Predict how your business is going to perform in the future by preparing a cash flow forecast. Cloud Accounting apps like Xero and Receipt Bank offer useful projection and analysis tools.
  2. Use up-to-date financials from Xero or Receipt Bank to work out if there’s anything you can do right now to reduce your operating costs.
  3. There is a lot of support available – so make sure you reach out to your accountant.
  4. There are close to 800 apps on Xero’s app marketplace. These are third party software applications that works with Xero to improve your business efficiency. Ask your accountant to help you choose the apps that best suit your business needs.

Your customers are probably looking for you online so give them that option, but make sure that the checkout process and the accounting tools don’t ruin the shopping experience or your bank balance. If you need more information about the cloud accounting and check-out solutions, you can book a call or appointment so that we can talk, obligation free, about your business needs, or send us an e-mail to get the conversation going.