How small businesses can start selling online now

For most small businesses, the No. 1 issue is always: How do I make more sales? With so many customers now turning to online shopping, that’s tougher than it used to be. If you aren’t selling digitally in your small business, what can you do to start – easily and cheaply – making online sales?

Enable e-commerce on your website

When the world shut down due to COVID-19 back in March, customers turned increasingly to online shopping. About 36% of consumers now shop online weekly, an increase from 28% before the pandemic, according to a global survey by Selligent Marketing Cloud.

That behavior is not going to change soon. Customers like the convenience and safety of buying things directly from the web.

But many small businesses don’t offer customers the chance to buy from their website – they don’t have e-commerce capabilities. They may have felt it was too difficult or expensive to set up shop on their website, or they felt they didn’t have a product or service that lent itself to being purchased online.

Well, now’s the time to rethink that point of view. There are a number of platforms making it incredibly easy – and not expensive – for small businesses to add shopping capabilities to their online presence. And by offering gift cards (a service which can be set up with many of these platforms) virtually any B2C (business-to-consumer) product or service can make online sales.

Depending on your needs, you can create a very complicated online store or a very simple one. But if you’re not offering customers a chance to buy from your website now, it’s time to rethink that!

Here are some of the leading e-commerce platforms aimed at helping small businesses:

Shopify. Shopify was designed specifically for small business owners who need to set up an e-commerce site, without needing any experience creating websites. This subscription service helps you manage sales, sales taxes, shipping, inventory and more. After you create a Shopify account, you can start selling in minutes.

SquareSpace. This website builder application enables you to create an entire website, including, if you wish, to make sales from your site. They have a number of e-commerce templates to help you quickly customize your website for your type of products or services.

Wix. Wix is a more limited, but also less expensive, option for creating a very simple e-commerce store.

WooCommerce for WordPress. When it comes to creating an e-commerce presence, WordPress may be more complicated than some of the other options, but you can build a more robust online presence that may meet your specific needs. With a WordPress site, to make sales, you can use simple PayPal buttons or you can install a robust plugin such as WooCommerce, but you’ll probably need help. Fortunately, you’ll find lots of experienced WordPress and WooCommerce (a WordPress e-commerce plugin) consultants online who can help.