Action plan for managing your new online platform

Many businesses have recently launched an online presence to sell their products and services. Here are some tips for managing online platforms in the longer term, including website builders, eCommerce functionality, learning management platforms and third party marketplaces.


5 min read

1. Overview

There has been significant growth in the number of businesses using online platforms to service customers.

  • Website builders including Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress and Wix
  • eCommerce functionality such as Shopify
  • Learning management platforms like Google Classroom
  • Third party marketplaces, for example, Etsy and eBay for products; and Udemy, Thinkific and Teachable for training content

Many of these platforms are so user friendly, it’s easy to get them up and running without much technical support. Once you've used them for a few months it's sensible to review how they're performing. Ask:

  • are there other available features that could help your business?
  • could you do more to present your business, products and services more professionally?

2. What do your customers think about your online platform?

There are a few things to consider before implementing new features or refining your shop front.

  • Review how people are currently using it as many platforms offer user stats and reports. If you have Google Analytics on your site, review your reports to see how many people are coming to the site and how they are interacting with the platform through to sale.
  • Check for comments, feedback and reviews that users have left on the platform and respond as needed.
  • Gather feedback from existing customers - what is their experience using it? This can be done by running surveys with tools such as Survey Monkey.
  • If necessary, change platforms, if you feel it's not working for you and your customers but this will depend on your business and investment in the platform. For example, if you’re basing your training courses on Facebook but finding Google Classroom offers a better experience for your new approach, then you can swap over, provided you communicate it clearly to your customers and provide support for them to make the switch.

3. Find out more about your online platform’s features

Most of the large platforms offer a wide range of features that could be helpful.

  • Find out all you can about your platform:
    ○ read the help centres and user guides.
    ○ head to the platform’s blog section for more insight into new features.
    ○ visit forums for large platforms like Squarespace, Shopify and Udemy.
    ○ look out for the regular ‘how to’ emails that platforms send registered users.
  • Test new features by trialing those that look relevant, then review their effectiveness.
  • Implement customer communication features and auto-responses if relevant and permitted. Many platforms offer customer communication features (such as chat functionality, or messengers) and even elements of auto response (such as confirmation emails, abandoned cart messages, retargeting and cross-selling). These could help with customer service moving forward.
  • Integrate with your offline business if your platform can help with this. For example, Teachable courses could be offered to physical customers, or your stock management could be run through your ecommerce platform to ensure alignment.
  • Review the features available within each price band, and consider if it is worth upgrading to the next level of package.

4. Refine your shop front

If you had to launch your online offering very fast, now you can refine your shop front and focus on improving sales conversions.

  • Add a wider selection of your stock if you launched with a smaller range of products.
  • Improve product image quality by using stock images from the manufacturer or retaking shots. If necessary, find a quick online course on this. Many are free, and cover how to get the best out of the camera on your phone without having to invest in professional camera equipment.
  • Consider providing more photos per product, and think about different aspects of the products such as photos of the product in the box (especially useful for gifts) as well as in-situ photos.
  • Rework product descriptions to help convert to sales by taking into account any questions customers keep asking which could be avoided with better descriptions, and by making sure you are really selling the benefits of the product.
  • Don’t make customers think! Take a moment to step back and click through your site from homepage to completion. Did anything not make sense? Was any part of this process hard to use? Fix these now to remove any roadblocks to purchase.

5. Maintaining your online platform

Remember, once your platform is up and running, you will need to regularly review and maintain your presence.

  • Update delivery information for any seasonal changes.
  • Review usage statistics and reports to identify any issues or opportunities.
  • Regularly check for comments and respond as needed, if this functionality is on your platform.
  • Update product descriptions and images if things change.
  • Keep an eye out for new features as they become available.

For further advice on selling online, watch our online tutorial on switching to trading online and keep up to date on Business Gateway webinars covering eCommerce.

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