In this age where everything is at our fingertips, there is no dearth of people who have capitalised handsomely by identifying the next hottest trend. From promoting religion and spirituality, to making friends, dating and shopping, the virtual world has allowed everyone to fulfil and achieve their respective goals and ambitions.
As it turns out, the internet has also inspired and boosted businesses of many local and international groups and individuals who previously struggled to reach broader audiences prior to the availability of e-business. So if you are one of those who are running their business or planning on starting something new, do not rule out the possibility of ensuring an online presence. Your e-business will not just boost chances of generating more revenue, but it will also provide you an opportunity to correctly evaluate your services/products and bring improvement in them. “You have a huge market once you are online, you are selling your products to people regardless of limitations like distance, time or even language, so you can market your products and give your services at any time to anyone,” says Danish Jalbani, who has been working as a freelance web designer and developer since a long time, but started receiving more projects, both locally and internationally, after creating an online profile in 2010.
While setting up your e-business is not a daunting task, you should take care to approach the right people before you actually start marketing yourself full throttle.
Here are a few key steps that are essential to set up any e-business and will hopefully assist you in maintaining a significant presence in the virtual world.
Finding domain and hosting
First and foremost, you need a domain (your web address) and a hosting server. Choose the name very carefully as it will become your identity in the virtual world. The same is the case with choosing the hosting server. A reliable hosting server will ensure half of the security of your website. You have to be very cautious when it comes to selecting them because you will be enticed by many companies offering such services at a very low price.
Do not over spend, but do not go for something unbelievably cheap either. Remember, you are setting up your business and even a single loophole can hinder your progress. The best way to select companies is to research and check their portfolios before making a final call.
Once you are done selecting the name and host, you are headed towards a critical part that needs careful consideration of all your business-related matters. You website is your online face and the more attractive, user-friendly and elegant it looks, the more the chances of captivating the visitors’ attention. However, you must not get distracted from your primary goal which is to sell your services/products. Consider the example of websites like Galaxy.pk or Autechnologies.com. Both these sites intend to sell their products, but their website’s interface is not overwhelmingly elegant as they are aware of their goal – simply to make a sale.
“Creativity and attention-grabbing layouts are certainly significant, but providing complete details of your products including their features and price is the most important goal,” says Laraib Ali, Web manager of Autechnologies.com. In a nutshell, the outlook of the website is dependent upon the nature of your business. If you are an artist seeking promotion of your skills and talent, you must put extra energy in designing inspiring and beautiful layouts.
Who’s going to make my site?
There are two ways you can develop your website:
The first option is to contact any software house. Again, do not just seek someone offering services at a low price. Instead, conduct meetings with different companies, tell them how you want your website to look and get their response. This will most probably be the more expensive option.
The other option is to find a freelancer. This method is cost-effective, but risky as well. You cannot easily hold someone accountable, especially in Pakistan, if they have not met the deadline or fulfilled any other commitment. So if you are going for this option, make sure you know the developer well. Both companies and individuals can be found at marketplaces like Elance.com and Odesk.com.
Your website will be of no use if it does not attract visitors. In order to market your website, social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) are the best tools.
Facebook is one of the easily approachable mediums allowing you to market your product free of cost. “Around half of our daily website visitors came as a result of promotion done on Facebook,” informed Laraib. “However, one must keep the Facebook page alive by offering special offers and discounts and keeping the promotions active,” he added. SEO, on the other hand, is a rather tricky thing, but it will help improve your ranking on search engines like Google. Also, if done properly, SEO will amplify the number of visitors on your website.
Payments After consumers have selected something to buy from your website, you have to present them options to make payments. The preferable method in Pakistan is to receive cash on delivery, but you could also provide your bank account details where consumers can deposit their money.
Cost The cost of setting up your online business will vary depending upon the services you avail, the software house/freelancer you contact and, of course, your ability to bargain and negotiate. According to some rough estimates, however, the price can range from Rs 80,000 to 150,000. This will incorporate all the charges of hosting, designing and development, and other necessary tasks.
The dont's • Never provide fake images of any product on your website. • Never provide wrong price list. • If you have data of your customers including name and contact information, never ever pass it on to anyone else. • Never put images on your website that would take a lot of time to load.