Being in the web design business in Penang (Malaysia), this is the common question that I have been asked repeatedly. Many entrepreneur here are still unaware of how they can put their current business online and why they should. Well, there are a few main benefits:
1. Internet business is borderless. By launching business online, your service or products will be exposed to not only local buyers, but potentially international customers.
2. Manage from any where. If you own your physical shop, you can only manage it from your store. However for online business, you can manage or monitor it from anywhere – overseas, or at home, or office, or anywhere that you have access to the internet. Convenience?
3. Lower Startup Cost. When I charge RM1500 to RM3500 to design a standard business web site, people first reaction is "Wah, so expensive!" . People who reacts like this has never thought of how much he spent initially for his physical business. RM30,000 may be for shop renovation and set up. So what is RM1500 to RM3500? A few hundred ringgit for a web site? Yes there are … from a guy next door with part time job may be …
4. Low Maintenance Cost. Paying your shop rental RM1000 to RM3000 a month? Then what is paying RM200 to RM300 a YEAR for server hosting fee? Design fee is only 1 time, and the rest is just paying for the server rental only. You need a web server operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to run your website online.
5. Customer's convenience. Tired of faxing your product catalog when your client required? And costly too if faxing to overseas. Further more, in black and white only. So why not putting it online and let your client or potential customer browse by themselves easily and conveniently from their place.
6. Easy & Fast Product Update. When product specs changed, or new products arrived, you need to reprint your catalogs, and dispose off your old catalogs, and re-inform or re-post your new catalogs to your existing clients. Waste of time and money, is not it? With online system, you can easily manage, insert new, edit or delete product information and photos in a matter of minutes. Just inform your existing client to get the update from your web. Period.
7. Easy Ordering. Customer does not have to come from far to your shop in order to buy a piece of cake. They can order it online, pay it online, and you deliver it right to their door step. Easy?
So, back to this topic, how to put your business online? Easy, just compare online and offline business below. Basically you need 4 main steps:
Register a Web Domain name – yourcompany.com (RM49) or yourcompany.com.my (RM100) – Yearly Renewal.
This step is equivalent to register your company name with the Company Registrar. Yearly payment too.
Rent your Web Space at Datacenter in Cyberjaya, KL or so-called "Web Hosting". Yearly Renewal. It will run your website 24 hours x 7 days a week. 50GB Hosting Space (Web & Email) RM199 / yr.
This is equivalent to Renting a shop lot to run your business. Monthly or yearly payment.
Design your web site and put in information or create your store and load the products to sell. This can be done by you (if you know) or hire a web designer. 1 time payment.
This is equivalent to Hiring contractor to build / renovate / decorate your shop lot and then showcase your products. 1 time payment too.
Promotion & Marketing. By listing your site on Google / Yahoo / MSN plus other top business directories, or pay to advertise with them.
This is equivalent to printing of flyers or banners to market & promote your business.
I will be discussing deep into each steps above in my next article. By now you know that it is actually same steps taken to launch your business online. The different is you need to find the correct party to do it and the cost is very much lower.
Advice: DO NOT just look for cheap, but also think of the quality of the web site you will be receiving, the features that the web site has, and if it is made for a non-programmer (you) to update (DIY capability ). If you do not have the easiness to update web info, you will have to rely on that designer for updating all the time. Nothing is wrong though. Just in case .. he is gone or out of the business … who knows?