Small businesses could be up and running with an ecommerce site in as little as a month if they follow the advice of Robert Webber and Kaye Iling, the brains behind Food Pro PNG’s recent ecommerce launch.
Robert Webber, founder and web developer at Old Plantation, has one key message for SMEs who want to get into ecommerce: ‘the process is not overwhelming’.
Speaking at the recent Business Council of PNG/BSP’s PNG Business Digital Commerce Forum, Webber believes that you can have a viable ecommerce site up and running in as little as a month, and that now is the right time to start.
‘Ecommerce is not new but the timing is right now in Papua New Guinea because our internet connectivity is pretty quick and now we have banks coming on board with IPGs [internet payment gateways] and options for us to get online and receive payments online,’ he says.
‘The initial stage for an SME that wants to get online and start selling products is to engage a web developer.’
The arrival of the Coral Sea Cable is making internet faster and cheaper and the COVID-19 pandemic has favoured remote working and cashless payments, helping to push the need for ecommerce.
‘The initial stage for an SME that wants to get online and start selling products is to engage a web developer. In that initial engagement, it is also good to get the SME to talk to a bank,’ Webber says. BSP and Westpac are leading the way in this area, with both launching ecommerce products this year.
‘Then, you start talking about how the website will look and that should take about a week,’ he says. ‘If all systems are in place, you can roll our a website relatively quickly but because you are communicating between client and banks this workflow can push out to, say, a month.
‘In the case of Meathaus, it took about a month, or a month-and-a-half, between planning the initial stages to the “go live”.’
But Webber warns that getting the website up and running is really only ’20–30 per cent of the work’.
‘To run a successful website, to get traffic to that website, is 80 per cent of the work and what you do next is a digital strategy,’ he said.
A key digital strategy, according to Webber, involves the following:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) – making sure you are found in an internet search
- Content marketing – using creative and original content to generate brand awareness
- Email marketing – communicating with your audience to promote content or showcase discounts
- Social media marketing – promoting you brand and growing your brand awareness in the social space
Not easy but worth it
Kaye Iling, Business Development Manager at Food Pro, says that getting the food manufacturer and wholesaler online has provided a great boost to the business. The company – which includes brands such as Bakehaus, Meathaus and Buffalo Burger – first worked on a ‘trustworthy’ website so that people felt that online was a safe place to shop.
Other challenges included working out what sort of measurement of meat that customers would want, but trust was the number one driver.
‘We had to come up with a website that Papua New Guineans could trust right from when they first click on the product to when they are trusting our service,’ Iling said. ‘They are trusting we will deliver on time and the fact we have had a few repeat customers already shows that the website has been a success.’
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