Going online has now become the new norm. With businesses shifting towards digital transformation, it is important to be equipped with the latest technology. The utmost question here is when is the right time to do so?
Most entrepreneurs are faced with a dilemma on deciding which option is best for their business. Whether to venture in online business or to maintain on offline business, or to do both has become a hot topic. To add on to that dilemma, another issue faced is whether to go for social media or a website.
With much confusion there is in this topic, it is important we dig deeper and find the best solution that will lead us to the correct pathway in growing our business online. As a guide on the proper method and actions needed to be taken in having a website, we will look at the challenges faced in running a business, the difference between online vs offline, the pros and cons of a website and useful tips from experienced entrepreneurs.
Challenges in starting a startup
Many think that being an entrepreneur is very glamorous and fun but there are many pros and cons in being an entrepreneur and many challenges are faced too when you are starting up a business. According to Vanessa Ong, the founder of Gernise Global and MamaShop, the biggest challenge faced for a start-up is the capital. There is always a struggle with the capital and she really needed to think of ways to reduce the operational cost of running a brick and mortar, including outsourcing. By opting to go online, she does not need to worry about the capital as going online does not cost as much as brick and mortar do.
Valerie Aw, founder of Aestival Elements said that manpower are the challenging parts in a start-up. “Currently I’m a one woman show, so I handle logistics, finance, restocking until delivery. Presently, my main challenge is to hire a person to help me,” said Valerie.
After hiring workers, Valerie has more time to focus on things that are important for her business. Besides, focus is also very important in a business as it is needed in order to run a business smoothly.
By having a website, it is much easier to manage a business instead of a physical store as there is no rent to pay or utility bills unlike online that only comes with a one time monthly payment at a cheaper rate.
Motivation to start an online store
“As my core business is B2B, it is challenging to move towards B2C. It’s a new industry for me and everything is new,” said Vanessa.
Vanessa first started her business without a website. She started doing roadshows, pop-up events and corporate events to showcase her products during lunch hours. The questions she frequently got asked by customers the most are for a website that allowed them to browse through products.
Due to having less products and it being time consuming to handle a website, Vanessa did not opt for starting a website until 6 months later. The decision to kickstart a website was decided when Vanessa’s customer enquiries started to grow bigger and the demand to see the products increased since there was no virtual presence.
Besides, customers found it challenging to email or text to ask for a product image and to add up to that the feedback was delayed due to growing enquiries. “That is when I decided to start a website although I should have it done earlier,” said Vanessa.
“Like Vanessa I started the company in 2017 and did a lot of pop-up stores. After a few events, customers started asking where they could see more products because I could only bring a few items due to the limitation of physical space,” said Valerie.
As time went by, Valerie knew that it was time to own a website. She learned about WIX, a user-friendly website builder and used that to create her website as there are many ready-made templates available and that is how she started her own website.
It is a good idea to have a website as they are convenient and everyone can have access to it anytime.
Challenges and differences between online & offline
According to Valerie, the challenges of a brick and mortar store is that it fully depends on human traffic. “For example, a pop-up store in a shopping mall depends on the foot traffic going into the mall,” said Valerie. While in eCommerce whether it’s a website, Facebook or Instagram, traffic is driven to the website by having a lot of marketing and advertising.
“Both bricks and mortar and eCommerce have their own strengths, weaknesses and challenges as well. Vanessa and I started with bricks and mortar, that is our strengths and right now we need to build on the eCommerce portion of the business,” said Valerie.
The benefits of eCommerce are that the customer base is unlimited and you can reach all over the world.
According to Vanessa, the pros of bricks and mortar are customers can touch and feel the product, see how the product looks and ask questions, purchase it on the spot and no waiting time is required to obtain the product.
While the pros of online is it allows you to shop anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day. The cons of online is that it’s a challenging platform as it’s a crowded place with many users and high competition among entrepreneurs.
“Going online makes us constantly think of a lot of strategies and ways of how to stay competitive in this crowded space,” said Vanessa.
Insights on going eCommerce in Singapore
According to Valerie, in 2019 to 2023, fashion and electronics are the main things that people will buy online. In fact, in 2021 fashion has overtaken electronics quite a bit and will continue to grow. Based on the eCommerce activity overview, the percentage of users that have at least performed one online activity in the past month has increased.
The increase in the number of users searching and visiting online platforms can turn them into potential clients. Entrepreneurs should take this into consideration and contemplate on venturing into online platforms and they can seek help from Exabytes if they wish to develop or venture into online business.
Encouraging words to aspiring entrepreneurs
“Entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey, lonely in a sense that everyone has a friend but not all understand the struggle of being an entrepreneur,” said Vanessa.
“So it is important to have a community, like myself I have made a lot of friends with the mompreneur and we are constantly learning from each other and also we always give each other a pat on the shoulder and say that keep going, keep moving and never stop learning,” she added.
“I always stand by this quote by Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” said Valerie.
She said instead of doing the same activity daily such as opening and closing shops at the same time and expecting an increase in business, try doing something different by innovating your business, looking up new products and new ways to handle business to expect different results.
Keeping up with time as a business owner is important to be a successful entrepreneur.
To conclude, the right time to do business online is now and for further information visit Exabytes and search for Accelerate Women Entrepreneurship Exabytes (AWEWE).
As part of our sharing session by mom go places, a question and answer session was held to give better insights on the advantages of kickstarting a website. Below are some topics discussed by our speakers Ms Vanessa and Ms Valerie with our audiences.
Q1- How to drive traffic to your website?
“I started off by using my own Instagram page to drive traffic to my eCommerce site. Then I received advice to do Facebook live, Instagram live and Instagram branding page,” said Valerie. The key is to have consistency. Consistency in doing Facebook live on a regular basis such as once a week with a particular time will allow followers familiarise with your schedule and learn what are the things you can offer.
Q2-How to cope up with the transition from social media to your own website?
Both are equally important. On the website it is more about presenting the information and visuals, especially important testimonials from customers. It is good to have some testimonials from customers on how they feel about their product. By adding testimonials to websites, it helps to bring credibility to a website.
Q3-When is the right time to have a website?
Instead of the right time, ask yourself how far I want to go in my business. Do you want to be satisfied with having enough pocket money or further develop into bigger business? Those who wish to grow bigger it is better to consider having a website because a website will give a lot more credibility, grow your business and connect with more people. “The right time is when you decide to grow your business and want to start connecting with people,” said Valerie.
Q4-How often do you think business owners should change or upgrade their website?
“I started with a very simple informative website with some basic features. In the past 5 years, I revamped twice and I think it’s important to revamp your website once in a while because you have to constantly keep changing and also be updated to what the market wants, and what the customers want. I’m sure over the years we add on the product’s price and that’s the time we give the website a new look,” said Vanessa.
Join us on our upcoming sharing session, What Every Business Have and Needs on 6 May 2022 at 10.00 am.
Click here for more information