How to overcome the 7 Biggest Challenges for Businesses Going Online

Learn how to navigate and overcome some of the biggest challenges for businesses going online and build a solid foundation for success with these practical tips.

Despite the digital age being around for quite some time, some businesses remain offline. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic forced a number to shift their focus towards online platforms, they continue to face various challenges.

Indeed, in today’s digital age, having an online presence is no longer optional. However, going online and staying there is easier said than done. Small to medium-scale businesses face significant challenges in transitioning from a brick-and-mortar establishment to going online. In this article, I explore some of the biggest challenges for businesses going online, and more importantly, how to overcome them.

Going online offers businesses incredible opportunities. These range from reaching a broader audience to creating new customer experiences. However, the process of transitioning to an online platform can be challenging, especially so, for those who are used to traditional brick-and-mortar ways of doing business.

This brings me to the primary challenge for businesses going online…

1. Lack of technical knowledge: Setting up and Maintaining a Functional Website

Whilst to M. Aziz and S. Maliha (2020) the challenges of businesses operating online in South Asia include delivery problems, security, tax and legal issues, these are not the biggest challenges of businesses going online in other spheres of the globe. Linearly considered, even before a business goes online, one of the biggest challenges for businesses going online is the lack of technical knowledge necessary for building, and maintaining a website as well as all that relates to it.

Having a functional website is key to online success. For this reason, it is a major part of your business going online. This is because, when it comes to your business going online, its website becomes your new online storefront. As such, you must ensure that, not only is your website functional, but that it is also optimized to attract and retain customers.

However, achieving all the above requires some technical know-how. For, whether you are tech-savvy or not, creating a website, let alone managing your business’s social media accounts can be quite challenging.

What to do?

  • SOLUTIONS: This challenge largely depends on your budget. If you are bootstrapping your business, you can take advantage of free online resources. Be forewarned though, depending on your skill set, creating a website from scratch can be overwhelming, as it has multiple elements to consider. These elements include hosting, website design, functionality, content, search engine optimization (SEO) and all that this entails.

Fortunately, though, such elements are increasingly becoming easier. Thanks to, for example, YouTube tutorials, online courses, webinars, and tutorials, free hosting, and ready-to-use online website templates like Google Sites and MailerLite, you can have your small business website online within a matter of minutes. 

However, it is essential to note that a website is only as good as its developer and designer’s skills. In this regard, it is always advisable to seek the services of a professional web developer and/or designer.

So, alternatively, you could hire an outside digital marketing agency to help you get online.

Challenges for businesses going online. Comecinc Communications and Strategic Solutions Services Inc. globe with mouse on it to indicate going online.

These days, unlike ever before, your business can easily find specialist digital assistance for various aspects of online marketing. For example, at Comecinc Communications and Strategic Solutions Services, we offer a range of digital services, from website development to search engine optimization.

Unfortunately, building and maintaining a functional website is not the only biggest challenge for businesses going online.

2. Fierce Competition for customers: Building an online presence.

While the internet has made it easier for most businesses to take their brand online and compete with established brands, some have found the market crowded and competition fierce. The sheer vastness of the internet makes it challenging to get noticed amidst more established businesses.

This is especially so, for those brands entering industries with high demand where countless brands have already built an online presence. Online presence refers to your business’s visibility and influence across various online platforms. These can either be social or e-commerce platforms.

To shake off the competition, and stand out in a crowded market therefore, your business needs to differentiate itself. This can be done through its branding, customer service, and the value it’s offering your customers. 

 At best, building an online presence requires a well-executed digital marketing strategy.

One that includes social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and SEO.

Done well, SEO can improve your website’s visibility by optimizing it for search engines in search engine results pages (SERPs). This in turn attracts more potential customers to your business, leading to its online success.

However, for any business to build its online presence, it takes an understanding of online marketing, web development, and e-commerce.

So, if you understand online marketing, web development, and e-commerce, you could start building your business’s online presence by ….

  • SOLUTIONS: leveraging the power of social media to brand your business. Used effectively, social media platforms can act as an extension of your website and help drive traffic to your site. For this to happen though, your business must create valuable, quality, and engaging content to attract and retain customers.

In addition to regular social interactions with your customers, a blog for your business can help you establish a loyal following. So too, can video content, especially on social media platforms. Both can help increase your business’s brand awareness and engage your audience.

However, if your skill set does not include effective online marketing, then you could hire an outside digital marketing agency or business consulting firm to again assist.

At Comecinc, we offer a range of branding services, from blogging to social media management to social media community engagement services. Our marketing consultants would be happy to guide you through the process of your business going online. As well as help you create rich, informative content that addresses the needs of your potential customers.

Unfortunately, some small to medium-scale businesses lack or have limited resources to hire a dedicated team or outsource their digital marketing services.

In such cases, Software as a Service (SaaS) tools are fortunately available.

So, for instance, if it is regular interactions with customers through social media or your business’ blog that you want to help establish a loyal following then look no further than such tools as Yarnit and Expandi.

Yarnit is an AI-powered content creation platform. It allows your business to create personalised content aligned with your brand and audience. Yarnit AI enables teams and companies to write, design, audit and publish content- all under one app.

Conversely, Expandi is a powerful LinkedIn automation software for outbound challenges on LinkedIn. It has email capabilities and an active academy user to help you become a better LinkedIn user. Expandi’s smart software can think for you and assist your business in creating the highest number of personalized touchpoints.

3. Adapting to New Technologies and Trends: E-commerce Hurdles

The third challenge that businesses encounter when going online is adapting to e-commerce. E-commerce refers to the buying and selling of products or services over the Internet.

However, while going online specifically to sell products and services makes it easier for your business to reach customers beyond your geographical boundaries, it also comes with its own technological challenges.

Such ever-evolving technologies can be overwhelming for most businesses, especially small and emerging ones. For instance, in 2021 Dinesh, S. and MuniRaju Y noted how the pandemic had exposed the need for “smarter technologies and improved customer engagement.”

When going online, there is no way a business can avoid technological innovations and customer engagement. The challenges for businesses going online in this regard include tech challenges around payment processing, customer service, and depending on your online business model, inventory management.

Adapting to new technologies and trends is crucial to your business staying up-to-date with the latest technological trends.

  • SOLUTIONS: To overcome e-commerce challenges, therefore, your business must leverage and have technology installed to automate its online processes. For instance, depending on your business’s means, have payment processing systems such as PayPal, Payfast or Stripe integrated into your online business. These make it easier for customers to transact.

Unfortunately, however, as Fabio Santos et al. (2021) highlighted, “challenges of businesses going online include architectural and integration.”

Additionally, your online business must also have a robust customer support system. Such a system helps address any concerns your customers might have.

In our age of artificial intelligence, chatbots are now helping online businesses improve customer engagement and streamline business operations.

And while many such customer support AI are, and continue to come onto the market, some you could consider include Socios and Simpu.

Socios is a customer communication tool for businesses. It integrates your business SMS/texting, with Google Maps chat, WhatsApp, and Telegram chat. Socios also comes with online review management, a web chat plugin, online forms, and SMS notifications. Socios is also helpful for Bulk SMS, Bulk voice calling and automated chat translation.

As its name suggests, Simpu simplifies your business’ customer communication. With Simpu’s Omnichannel Inbox, your business can streamline all your customer messages, help you collaborate seamlessly, and deliver superb customer service. Elevate your customer support experience and transform it into a key business advantage with Simpu.

Your business transacting and interacting online however leads to the next challenge for most businesses going online….

4. Security Concerns: Cybersecurity

In addition to staying current with tech innovations, related to this, is the topical issue of cybersecurity. With more businesses going online, it has resulted in millions of dollars being transacted there daily. Understandably, this has given rise to cybersecurity concerns.

The fourth challenge that businesses therefore encounter going online is security concerns because of cyber threats. Cyber threats are malicious activities that target your business’ network, software, and hardware.

Ishtiaq, M et al. as early as the year 2009, reported how increasingly, data breaches are a common problem for online businesses operating online.  Common cyber threats to online businesses include hacking, phishing, and malware attacks.

Nelly Karina Esparza Cruz et al. (2017) writing on E-commerce in Ecuador eight years later would reinforce the challenges of information security for online businesses. Their concern is justifiably understandable.

biggest challenges of businesses going online. Comecinc C & SSS AI programmer-hacker at work

Cyber threats can result in reputational damage, financial loss, and legal issues. Losing customers’ confidential information can have far-reaching consequences for both. From monetary losses due to lawsuits, to reputational damage and loss of trust, cyber threats can plague a company for years.

Consequently, cybersecurity has become more crucial than ever. Going and doing business online now means protecting both your business and customers’ sensitive data and information.

SOLUTIONS: To protect your business against cyber threats, you must implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Working with a reputable web hosting service can also provide added security for your website.

On a basic level, such a cybersecurity strategy must include installing antivirus software, using secure passwords, and regularly backing up data. Regularly updating your software, using encryption, and focusing on fraud protection can also help protect your business from data breaches.

In addition, to minimize cyber risks your business needs to ensure that employees are trained on cybersecurity best practices and help implement them.

To ensure that you are cyber secure, several SaaS products are available for you to choose from. Among them, are mSafe, Orangedox and Insecureweb.com.

mSafe offers you the safest solution to transfer your business files (and signing them). With its two-factor authentication and tracking, your files are guaranteed to arrive. mSafe has been used for over a decade by Banks, railways, law enforcement, law firms etc., and is now available to you too.

Orangedox is the leading virtual data room provider for Google Drive. Using it, you can create secure data rooms that are synced with your Google Drive. Orangedox enables you can control document access in real-time and track whenever participants access files. With the Orangedox you get the most from your Google Drive.

The majority of hacking-related breaches reportedly occur due to stolen or weak passwords. For added security, you could also consider InsecureWeb, a great tool to protect your business from the dangers of the DarkWeb. InsecureWeb scans the darkest places of the internet 24×7 and alerts you when your information is found so you can take preventive actions.

This brings me to a related challenge that businesses going online come across, changing customer expectations.

5. Changing Customer Expectations and Technological Innovation

Shifts towards online shopping have significantly changed customers’ expectations. Especially so, as customers become more sophisticated, knowledgeable, and selective about their online shopping activities and purchases.

  • SOLUTIONS: To keep up with changing customer demands, once your business goes online, you need to assure them they are secure doing business with you online.

More than ever, online customers need assurances that their data is secure and private on your e-commerce site. This can be achieved through implementing security protocols such as SSL encryption, two-factor authentication, and multi-level access rights.

Secondly, you must offer them personalized experiences. Depending on what you are selling, this can, for example, be good product visuals, virtual fittings, and tailored marketing messages.

However, for your business to be able to do so, it needs to keep current with the technological innovations that are happening at an unprecedented rate.  Some such digital marketing trends today include video marketing, mobile optimization, voice search optimization, AI-based customer experiences as well as trustworthy return policies.

One sure way your business can keep up with these ever-evolving trends is by partnering with digital marketing experts such as Comecinc.

Comecinc stays up to date with the latest technology, cybersecurity and customer expectation trends and know how to implement them to enhance your business operations.

However, if you would rather discover your customers’ expectations yourself, then try AppMetrix. This privacy-friendly web analytics tool, tracks pageviews, and session replays, and creates heatmaps without risking users’ privacy and personal information. AppMetrix is GDPR and CCPA-compliant.

If not AppMetrix, then perhaps Koongo.

Koongo provides easy and affordable marketplace integration and data feed management. It helps online stores to list products on marketplaces and advertising channels to reach new customers, so they grow their business. Koongo can be integrated with 500+ channels available. For example, Shopify, Prestashop, WooCommerce, Magento, Wix, and others.

Customers’ increasingly changing expectations and preferences, lead to the sixth biggest challenge that businesses encounter when going online.

6. Online Reputation Management

Closely related to branding and brand management, managing your business’s online reputation is crucial and deserves special individual mention.

The world of online business can be quite harsh, unwelcoming, and unforgiving, especially for companies that are entirely new to the digital landscape. Taking your business online opens it to receiving tens and possibly hundreds of reviews and ratings. While such traffic is potentially good, it can impact your business’ online reputation both positively and negatively.

Building a good reputation online takes years of hard work, and one negative review can undo years of effort. As such, you should ensure that you proactively manage your business’s online reputation.

But how?

Challenges of businesses going online. Comecinc reputation management image young woman listening to what the public is saying about Comecinc.

Say what?!!

  • SOLUTIONS:  The best way to manage your business’s online reputation is by proactively monitoring reviews and ratings regularly to maintain a positive online identity.

Online reputation management tools and functions such as the “Mentions” function found on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or regularly googling your business enable you to track and manage your business’s online reputation.

Alternatively, as I have already alluded to, partnering with digital marketing experts is best. You can always CONTACT and engage Comecinc to manage your brand’s online reputation for you.

We understand the complexities of operating online and so are best placed to help your business navigate the difficulties of managing your online reputation by being seen to being responsive to customer needs.

And just how will you know whether you are being responsive to your customer’s needs?

7. Analytics: Targeting the right customer

Identifying and reaching your target audience online can be challenging. That’s because it requires understanding your audience’s online behavior and preferences if you are to effectively target and market to it. However, if you’re not tracking or analyzing your business’s marketing efforts, how can you tell what’s working?

So how can you ensure that your business’s marketing efforts are working, targeting and attracting the right customers to your business?

  • SOLUTIONS:  Online businesses have access to vast amounts of data. Ideally, therefore, you should implement analytical tools to track performance and adjust strategies accordingly. For example, you could use Qwary.

Qwary is an omnichannel CX experience management platform. It helps businesses capture customer feedback and measure NPS, CSAT, and CES with beautifully designed, professional surveys. Qwary generates powerful insights on how to improve the shopping experience and product performance, whilst engaging with customers and visitors.

Thereafter, extracting insights from data is crucial for making informed business decisions. However, analyzing and interpreting this data effectively can be overwhelming without the right tools and expertise.

If this is you, then Comecinc is here for you.

Our business consultants understand Big Data. They will analyze interpret it and report its metrics for you.

Is your business thinking of going online? Or struggling with any of the eight biggest challenges for businesses going online highlighted above?

No worries, CONTACT US TODAY!

Our team of business consultants will help your online business get out of whatever challenge it might be facing and stay ahead with the latest trends in digital marketing, and technological innovation to your customers’ satisfaction and engagement.

Talk soon!!

Wrap Up

Transitioning to an online platform can be challenging. However, thankfully, our digital age offers incredible solutions and tools to tackle these challenges. From digital marketing agencies to SaaS tools, your business can now overcome.

 By engaging the consulting services of digital agencies such as Comecinc, and staying knowledgeable about the latest technologies and industry trends, your business can establish a strong online presence, have a competitive edge, as well as securely transact online. All the while providing tailored customer experiences.

However, if you are bootstrapping and have no hope of financial assistance, start with small steps. Start slowly with free online resources to establish your online presence one step at a time. Hopefully doing so, you’ll be able to overcome these challenges, adapt to the changing market and continue to scale upwards.

All the very best!

ABOUT AUTHOR

Corwin L. Mhlahlo is, among others, the Principal Communications and Strategic Solutions Consultant at Comecinc C & SSS Inc., a business consulting firm in Johannesburg, South Africa. His qualifications include certifications in Business Administration, Sales Marketing Management and Digital Marketing. Corwin is passionate and excited about the future of Artificial Intelligence and Software as a Service (SaaS) to business processes, operations and productivity.

Disclosure : This article contains affiliate links. I may earn commissions if you appreciatively purchase any hyperlinked SaaS product I mentioned through them-at at no extra cost for you, of course. Thank you!!

4 thoughts on “How to overcome the 7 Biggest Challenges for Businesses Going Online”

    1. It happens to the best of us. Which doubts were or are those? We hope they have since been dispelled. However, we you still have them, please free to hope on a call, we would be happy to assist you. Till then!!

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