In this article you will learn why you should bring your business online and how you can do this for absolutely FREE.
The Global Change due to Global Pandemic
The world still continues to battle the global pandemic. During the peak pandemic the people across the globe were spending more time staying indoors leading to a change in lifestyle where consumers have shifted to spending more time online than ever before. Though the world is opening up gradually, still the fundamental change in consumer behavior prevails.
We saw consumers move dramatically toward online channels for almost everything, be it entertainment, shopping, healthcare or work. Following this change companies and industries have responded accordingly in turn. Several survey results confirm the rapid shift of brands toward digital medium for interacting with their customers to stay relevant. Even the brands that were traditionally offline have innovated new online products in an effort to adapt to this new way of living.
COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in e-commerce and accelerated digital transformation. As lockdowns became the new normal, businesses and consumers increasingly “went digital”, providing and purchasing more goods and services online, raising e-commerce’s share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to about 17% in 2020.
With the global transformation of business towards digital medium, the brick-and-mortar business owners have realized that in order to stay relevant and take advantage of this trend, it is extremely important to bring their business online.
But how to go about it? With the tons of options online and rapid changes can make it impossible to decide where you should start. But not to worry, in this article I have tried to simplify it for you to get you started in the most effective way.
The focus is exclusively on FREE PLATFORMS so you can get started without losing a penny.
So let’s take your business to the next level to grow and prosper.
Google My Business (Search Engine)
The most basic step to get your business started with the journey towards the digital world is the Google My Business Listing.
Google My Business is a free tool from Google that allows you to manage how your business appears in Google Search and Google Maps. Though it is said that it is only for brick-and-mortar shops, I like to differ. Every business, be it a physical shop or an E-commerce store must have an office and that office’s address can be used to list the business on Google Maps.
Google My Business is great start especially given the following stats according to Google Survey:
- 80% of people use search engines to find local business.
- 50% of people who does a local search, visits the store the same day.
- The chances of people’s visit increases if all the information is correct.
- Google has also been putting a lot of emphasis on local search results now.
Facebook Business Page (Social Media)
Your business’s online presence needs to be on social media and what is a better platform for that than Facebook. There are definitely many other social media platforms but to get started in the most simple way to the largest platform is easy and that is my focus here. So let’s understand why you need a Facebook Business Page.
Facebook has over 2.6 billion monthly active users; India alone has over 260 million people. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, with its users visiting the site more regularly than users of any other social media site.
Having your business’s page on Facebook is a great way to introduce your company to the local market and improve brand awareness to connect with current and potential customers. According to a recent report, more than 80% of people reported discovering new retail products they were interested in buying on Facebook.
You can share all kinds of content on Facebook and can also go live for any event to get the raw experience directly to your customers or for behind the scenes of your business.
And if you are ready to spend some money for advertising on Facebook, you can do it with ease. Facebook’s advertising options are a useful method for reaching a local area or a specific type of client through boosted posts, click ads, and video ads.
Just Dial (Online Directory)
I am sure you are aware of JustDial and high chances are that you used it as well. That is exactly why you should not ignore this platform. JustDial is India’s No. 1 Local Search engine that provides local search related services to users across India. You can access it through multiple platforms such as website, App (Android / iOS) and over the telephone or SMS.
Just Dial provides both B2C and B2B listings of small and medium businesses across the country. It is basically an online directory where you can list almost any business offering services or selling products.
According to JustDial’s official website:
Justdial has a database of approximately 30.2 million listings as of December 31, 2020.
It has 132.6 million quarterly unique users across web, mobile, App & voice platforms as of December 31, 2020.
If you are into the B2B sector and haven’t considered selling your products online, let me introduce to you the largest online B2B marketplace in India, IndiaMART.
We do not see much mention of this India centric platform in most marketing plans but it must not be ignored if you want to sell online for free.
IndiaMART was established in 1996 and now it is India’s largest online B2B marketplace, connecting buyers with suppliers. Having a massive 60% market share of the online B2B Classified space in India, the channel focuses on providing a platform to Small & Medium Enterprises, Large Enterprises as well as individuals to grow business online. This market leader is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
You can access this through its website or its official Android and iOS App. Currently the IndiaMART app has more than 10 million downloads with a 4.7 App rating on Android.
Getting started on IndiaMART is super simple and free. You can Go to their website and get started now.
WhatsApp Business (Messenger)
WhatsApp needs no introduction, it is the world’s largest messenger app but you may need to know about “WhatsApp for Business”.
WhatsApp’s India Head, Mr. Abhijit Bose recently wrote in an article, “WhatsApp’s top priority in 2021 is to leverage our platform to enable businesses of all sizes to scale their reach and distribution and to allow the hundreds of millions of Indians using WhatsApp.”
With WhatsApp for Business, you can now create catalogs and simplify ordering with your customers.
WhatsApp India also announced some new features for even more intuitive catalogue experience. The latest features are the ‘shopping button’ and ‘cart’ to make the experience seamless, for both customers and businesses.
With all the set so far, you can seriously consider a website for your business and I will also explain how you can get one for free.
As the world gets more digitized everyday it is super important to create an online space for your business. A website for your business will help you promote your brand and reach new customers.
To emphasize why you need a website, allow me to explain. 84% of today’s consumers think a website makes your business more credible than companies who only have social media profiles. A website is a great place to make your contact information easily available to potential customers and can also have a form to reach you with specific queries or requirements.
You can get a free website from a lot of providers and WordPress being the most popular among all but I am recommending Wix. It is a simple and easy to use website builder and you don’t need any technical knowledge to use it.
Wix’s editing interface lets you design your site by dragging and dropping text boxes and images to where you want them. Wix also has a feature called Wix ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) for complete newbies. It will ask you a few questions about your website, then generate a fully-fledged business website for you based on your answers. And you can get a swanky looking website for free.
You need to understand that with this free site you cannot have them on your custom domain. But that is fair as you do not need to pay anything at all.
You will have a solid online presence if you follow the necessary activities discussed so far, and a strong online presence will help you to build your brand and gain credibility in your sector. The readily available information about your business gives your customers an easy way to find out more about what you have to offer which attracts more customers. A solid digital presence can also take your business beyond your local market into the larger market giving you more opportunities to grow. Any business not leveraging these free platforms are risking losing new lucrative opportunities.
With everything set, the next step is to actually market your business online with paid advertising and slowly upgrading your entire online appearance to more professional set-up.
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