As the latest incarnation of business, the popularity of E-Commerce has exploded in the business community, allowing customers quick and easy access to quality products and services. Through easily accessible websites, booking systems and social media pages, a venture can build awareness, cultivate their brand and encourage development of a customer base. Though up until now, some small businesses haven't felt the need to move online, content with traditional, word-of-mouth marketing.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic having fundamentally changed the way Canadian businesses must operate, the E-Commerce revolution is now progressing at breakneck speed. As customers have to make appointments and place orders for their products, the antiquated phone systems and paper slips many small businesses rely on are ineffective at handling this critical shift. As a result of this inadequacy, small businesses are having trouble competing with the infrastructure available to big business.
To combat this decline in performance, the BC Government has announced a new financial support program for small businesses to make their entry to the E-Commerce market, called Launch Online. This new program allows you and your business to invest in building a digital presence, improve logistics and make your services more available to customers than ever.
What Sort of Benefits Should I Expect?
Before rushing to submit your grant proposal, you're probably wondering: what's in it for you?
As part of this program, you can be connected with successful providers of web design services and E-Commerce development across British Columbia in order to grow your online presence. For example, the services that can be integrated into your online operations range from shopping cart capabilities to online inventory management and better presentation of your product catalogue. Covering up to 75% of eligible expenses at a maximum of $7,500 per recipient, the grant will allow you to hire relevant service providers and specialists to establish your online presence.
In addition, up to 30% of the total provincial investment of $42M in grant funds are earmarked for businesses owned and operated by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) operating in the lower mainland and greater Victoria.
That said, any grant funding is restricted to the hiring of digital enterprises in British Columbia for the establishment of the E-Commerce site or booking system infrastructure. Certain online subscriptions and intangible fees incurred outside the borders of the province are allowed, but all major jobs must be provided by local providers.
Determining Your Eligibility to Receive This Grant
To qualify for the Launch Online Grant Program, your business must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Registered to do business in British Columbia
- Maintenance of:
- A Federal Business Number
- A GST Number
- A PST and WorkSafe BC Number
- Employment of up to 149 employees
- Minimum Sales of $30 000 in 2019 or 2020
- Either a lack of an Online Storefront or one that lacks critical features
- Either a lack of an Online Booking System or one that lacks critical features
The Application Process at A Glance
In order to receive the grant, the project is broken down into three simple steps, as outlined on the portal at launchonline.ca:
First, every applicant must submit a grant proposal including a plan on how the funds will be allocated and a cost estimate detailing what will be required. Eligible expenses include platform development, content writing, online courses and digital services provided within BC.
Afterward, you must complete the online application that determines whether your enterprise meets the criteria for eligibility and formally present your E-Commerce proposal.
Following your submissions, you should be hearing from the board within three weeks on whether your application has been approved and how to access the funds.
Development for The Future
Looking at the current business environment, the integration of technology has become all but inevitable, with things like smartphone apps, support for mobile payment and engagement with customers via reviews gaining traction. These types of amenities are popular with consumers because of their simplification of doing business, offering ways to ensure product availability, pay without having to open their wallet or even reporting capabilities to make themselves heard by management.
Take PayPal, for example. When customers shop online, what are their top priorities? With cyberattacks and phishing being more common than ever, ensuring that their personal information remains secure is of the utmost importance. That said, they don't want to sacrifice convenience with long, arduous transactions, and will simply leave if buying something is excessively complicated. As a result, they are far more likely to purchase something from your website upon seeing that small lock icon on the address bar and the badge indicating that you support the service. Using one or more payment processing options would also maximize the number of customers that can shop on your website, allowing some who may prefer something like Cirrus or cryptocurrency to pay for your quality products and services.
Another excellent asset to invest in would be an online booking system. With so many businesses operating with limited floor space struggling to respect public health guidelines pertaining to store capacity, it has become the saving grace. If your business is able to manage when a customer enters and where/who ends up providing them the requested service, even these stringent regulations are but a bump in the road back to profitability. In addition to there only being a minimal impact, there's the added benefit of your business being "COVID-safe"' in the eyes of the public, as they can expect being one of only a few in the building at a time simply by virtue of your booking system.
In short, this benefit allows for small businesses to build the critical online infrastructure they need not only to remain competitive during the pandemic, but to sustain operations going forward.
What Can Twelverays Do to Help Me Improve My Online Business Plan?
The key to developing a strong online following in today's business environment is to think forward and outsmart the competition. With our talented team here at Twelverays, we seek to combine our advanced search engine optimization services and our intricate, modern digital marketing strategies to ensure that your business gets the high profile it deserves.
In the old days, marketing was a simple game, all you had to do was put a few signs up and get the word out. But today, the landscape has shifted with the introduction of social media as a means to directly tap into your target markets and reach customers at any time and any place. As you take advantage of this program and take your business online, Twelverays is the premier choice among digital agencies to gather meaningful insights, isolate popular trends and help you build your brand. Whether it be a strategy of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, conducting consumer research or even building your internal analytics department, we are ready to serve your needs.
Take our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) service, for instance. When customers look to purchase a good or service, where do they start? Unless they're hunting for a very particular deal at a specific store, they're just typing exactly what they're looking for. Many don't realize what this initial search represents: the consumer swimming out into the open sea of fisherman that is the Internet, where many entrepreneurs seek to reel them in with a good deal. Much like with fishing, you're going to have a hard time if you try to draw in potential customers online without a plan, or better yet, make a catch without any bait. In other words, you could have the nicest, most well-functioning website but still have it get buried by all the big players on Google if it isn't geared properly. This is where we come in. With our best-in-class optimization specialists at the helm of your strategy, we can isolate which search trends are driven by your target market and position your website front and center through the inclusion of key words and design choices. This will ensure your business is as easily discoverable to the consumer as possible, reeling them in and improving your standing in the market.
In the end, the most important factor in any product strategy is brand awareness. If your product doesn't have any buzz surrounding it or any forum to promote itself, your venture can't reach the new heights the Internet makes possible. THAT is why we're here. At Twelverays, we believe that service isn't just a duty, but an art form. As a dedicated team, we will believe in your brand, craft a bold vision for its future, and work tirelessly to ensure that it can break the mold of your industry. With elite marketing management and proven CRM strategies to grow your business at your disposal, working with us is ANYTHING but business as usual.
Launch Online - https://launchonline.ca/
Launch Online News - https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PREM0021-000496