Virtual Businesses in a Virtual World

Digital GlobeThe title of this article sounds like something out of a 1980’s movie like Back to the Future.  But in the ’80s, could you have imagined the world as it is today?  Probably not.  In the ’80s we were thinking about the Smurfs, trying to solve the Rubik Cube, playing Trivial Pursuit, listening to Bon Jovi and … well, actually, let’s not talk about fashion in the ’80s.

Today the internet has made this huge planet very small, and having a virtual business is becoming commonplace – not just for virtual assistants, but for all types of businesses including businesses with storefronts.  What better way to capture more business if you have a storefront than to have an online business that complements it.  I came across a website recently that I had no idea had a storefront until I started the checkout process.  The shipping options were as you would normally expect, but another option they had was FREE for pickup at the store.  Their website was their storefront, as far as I knew.  Their storefront was located in California, but I would certainly have chosen the FREE option if they were within a reasonable distance from me, which would bring me into their store where I may possibly purchase something in addition to the ordered product while I was there.

I am all for shopping local, really I am.  I love walking around places like New Hope, Doylestown, and Lahaska.  But there are times when I shop online for convenience sake, as do a lot of my friends.  I am certainly not suggesting that you should close up your storefront, but there are some really great online sites that makes shopping online easier than driving to a storefront on some days (and I won’t mention any names like Amazon or anything).  Why not add to your storefront business by making it easy to shop online for the people who prefer to shop that way?

I’m sure you’re all thinking retail, which is dead on.  But what about restaurants?  How could they be virtual?  By selling restaurant items related to their restaurant.  How many restaurants have you been to where there’s a little store on the way out?  Instead of having a shop at the restaurant, have an online shop where you can sell items with the restaurant name on it, or maybe a signature food item like an appetizer or  dessert, packaged for a party.  Get products out there with your name on it.  Think Starbucks.  They started selling coffee only in their stores.  Now they sell mugs, cups, K-cups, gift sets and all types of their products online.

Now comes the plug for virtual assistants.  (You knew it would be in here somewhere, didn’t you?)

If you do have a storefront, you may be telling yourself that you have absolutely no more time left in the day other than running your storefront.  Who would take care of maintenance on the website, keeping the content fresh, making sure the products and the shopping cart were up-to-date and working properly?  A virtual assistance company can – and they’d be a lot more cost-effective than you may think!

During the holiday season, you’re hopefully swamped.  But let’s play through a scenario where you had your storefront AND an online shop for the holidays.

Starting in August or September, you had decided that an online store in addition to your storefront was a great idea.  You set the wheels in motion.  You hire a website designer (think virtual assistant) to create a website if you don’t already have one, or add a shopping cart to your existing website.  (This is where I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to make sure your website designer / builder ALSO knows how to properly optimize your website for SEO purposes.)

You decide on the best products to sell online, have your virtual assistant research the best way to ship said product, add products to the website and configure the shopping cart, get the website up and running by October, and then start promoting said online store through social media and other SEO methods.  Your virtual assistance company can do all of these tasks – after all, you’re still running your storefront and preparing for the holidays.

Now its November and it’s time to gear up for the holidays!

Ads go out, products are promoted, coupons and discounts are offered, blogs and articles are written and promoted, everything is gearing up for Black Friday and beyond!  People come in the store as usual – or maybe even more because they’ve purchased something from your online store and chose the FREE shipping option if they picked it up at the store.  Sales are up! People are happy!  Life is good!

Or did you have another year pretty much the same as the last one and are wondering how to grow your business?

Give virtual assistance a try.  If you speak with an experienced professional, you just might have the best year ever in 2015.  Even if you know how to do everything a virtual assistant can help you with, does it make sense for you to be doing it?  Using a multi-VA company that sets you up with your own team, customized for exactly what you’re looking to do, is the answer – for any type of business.

Nickey Hollenbach

5-23-2013 8-23-50 AM





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