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Why starting out with a website is the key to business success

08 Mar 2023

Building an online-first business

It’s no secret that a website is an essential platform for interacting with customers. In fact, in our recent Fit for the Future report, 75% of the businesses we surveyed believe that consumers have become more demanding for the ability to interact with brands at any time, via anywhere digital.

Traditionally, many businesses have started their journeys as physical stores, expanding online after their physical presence has been established. However, particularly in a time when embracing digital tools has been critical, more businesses are starting in reverse, building an online presence before developing a physical presence.

Adam Brown, CEO of Orlebar Brown, is a business leader who flipped tradition on its head, starting his luxury swimwear brand (worn by James Bond, no less!) as a purely online business. Having begun as just a website back in 2007, Orlebar Brown can now be found around the world in stylish locations such as Cannes, St Tropez, Mykonos and Miami.

Speaking at our #ThoseWhoDare, Adam detailed what led to the development (and success) of Orlebar Brown’s digital presence. To help you enhance your business’ digital game, we spoke to Adam about what he considered when building his business online.

From desktop to mobile

Adam believes “opening your website is like having a shop on the quietest street in the world. You have to consistently drive traffic to that store the whole time.”

But how can you drive the maximum amount of traffic to your website at any moment? For Adam, developing a mobile-first website is key to engaging customers.

“Most brands I talk to today are starting with a desktop website and then seeing how it works on mobile. But I absolutely believe we should all be thinking about how to start with a mobile website and then how to pan up to a desktop”.

Adam’s hypothesis is supported by the numbers. In fact, according to research by Oberlo, 69.4% of internet users use shopping apps on their mobile devices. So, with more people than ever using their mobile devices to do their shopping, adapting to this behaviour by creating a mobile website could be your first step to supercharging your digital presence.

Personalising your customer’s digital experience

In Adam’s view, Orlebar Brown’s relationship with its audience has changed, requiring his business to fit in more with how the customer wants to shop rather than how the business expects the customer to shop.

Being aware of his customers’ experiences over the past 18 months, Adam mentions that he has relied more on personalised services, such as messaging through WhatsApp and texts, to share the latest deals Orlebar Brown has to offer.

Personalisation can also be applied to the way in which your website is designed. To do this effectively, you need to understand your customers – how they like to shop, when they like to shop, and so on. By gathering information through tools such as buyer personas, you can create an accurate picture of how each customer wants to engage with your brand, allowing you to tinker your website to their tastes accordingly.

Think global when it comes to customer service

While Adam maintains that building a website is simple, it’s also easy to forget some key considerations that must be covered when developing your digital presence. Primary among these considerations is catering to international customers.

“A big learning I had about online is if you want to go international, you need to consider things like timing for customer service, language, and translations… there are so many layers to being an international online as a business.”

So, whether you’re an already established global business or just breaking into the international scene, being aware of how your website needs to assist your customers abroad is critical.

Consider what you broadcast on your website

The one thing that Adam says he’s been careful with over the past 18 months is what Orlebar Brown speaks to their customers about online. As international travel was on a hiatus for most of 2020, Adam says that he was mindful of Orlebar Brown’s core messaging being about ‘sunshine, travel, happiness and good times’.

In reviewing this, Adam said it was important to consider what the brand could talk to the customer about while they’re stuck at home. For many businesses, a website is the main platform with which their customers interact with the brand. It’s therefore key that your website’s messaging is curated so that it’s sensitive to current affairs which impact your business as well as being mindful of any issues that might be affecting customers. This will help keep your brand active in the minds of consumers while also ensuring that your messaging is appropriately empathetic to the current circumstances.

The emphasis on digital business is only set to increase over the coming years. By getting ahead of the game when it comes to building your online presence, Adam believes you can lay down strong foundations for future success.

Want to learn more about building a digitally stronger business? Speak to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisors on how you can expand your business online.

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