Recent global events have served to prove that every business needs an online presence if it’s to survive and thrive. With entire nations forced to undergo weeks of lockdown, many businesses have been forced to cease trading altogether.

And yet others have managed to adapt the way in which they engage with their customers, ensuring their continued success. Whether that involves collaborating with third parties to provide home delivery services, or thinking of new ways to enhance the lives of potential customers, online reach has never been so important.

If you’re wondering how to move your business online, we’re here to guide you through the options available to you. Within days, or even hours, you could be attracting a whole new audience with the potential to boost your profits like never before. And in these uncertain times, anything that business owners can do to increase their reach is a worthwhile investment.

Create an ecommerce website

One of the quickest and easiest ways of moving your business startup online is to use a website builder. Even if you don’t have any previous website building experience, it’s still perfectly possible to create a great-looking and great-performing, website in a matter of hours.

Most website builders offer a huge variety of templates, so it’s child’s play to select one that resonates with your business theme. Then all you need to do is drag and drop your website information into place, add your products and you’re ready to go!

Most ecommerce add-ons provided by website builders are simple and intuitive to use. And they include payment options too, so absolutely everything is taken care of for you. You can alter, add and remove products whenever you choose, as well as setting out your own prices.

For a more bespoke option, you could commission your own website from scratch, but this could take several weeks to complete and would inevitably cost a substantial amount of money. For most startups, using a website builder is the easiest and cheapest option. In addition, since most website builders also offer domain registration and hosting packages too, all your online needs are taken care of, leaving you free to concentrate on running your business.

Selling through an established marketplace

If the thought of setting up your own website seems too daunting, then it’s possible to sell your products through an already-established marketplace. Some small traders rely on eBay for selling goods. You don’t have to sell exclusively via auctions, with many traders setting ‘Buy it now’ prices. But two other increasingly attractive options these days are Etsy and Amazon Marketplace.

Amazon has all the infrastructure already in place for selling a huge variety of products and it’s easy for small businesses to get on board too. If you sell up to 35 products a month you’re classed as a casual seller, but anything over that number of sales will put you in the business seller category. All you need to do is register with Amazon, then use the intuitive interface to upload your wares. You can then take care of deliveries yourself, or you can sign up to their Fulfilled by Amazon service for an extra fee.

Etsy is another marketplace option which is particularly favoured by creative types who sell the products that they make. This also offers an easy-to-use interface, ensuring that your goods reach the attention of the people most likely to buy them.

Moving a restaurant or café online

Throughout 2020, there has been a huge increase in business owners searching Google for “how to move your business online quickly”. Not surprisingly, a large number of these searches were coming from restaurant and café owners, who could foresee the impending disaster coming their way in the form of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thanks to organisations such as Deliveroo, Just Eats and Uber Eats, many of these smaller traders were still able to get their wares out to their customers. All of these delivery services offer packages that make it relatively simple to get on board. Business owners simply need to set up a new business account and they will then find the sign-up process quick and intuitive. In most cases, a dedicated business manager will be on hand to offer support and advice whenever it’s needed.

Of course, all of these delivery services require members to pay commission on their sales, so it’s important to do your homework. And of course, the decisions you make as to whether or not to sign up to one of the big food delivery services will be dependant upon the type of meals and products that you sell.

For small, niche businesses that operate within a small local radius, offering a personalised delivery service could be the better option. This would save on commission fees and allow smaller businesses to retain greater control over the service they provide. The key factor is to work out associated costs before making any commitments and to understand your business model as fully as possible.