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10 Ways for VARs and MSPs to Build a Better Web Presence

A web site is the first impression of your company. It should not reflect the company you already have – but the company you want to have. What you put into your web presence determines the value of this important asset to your company. Depending on what you do, it can either be a positive or a negative to your company. If it is an okay web presence, then it can be a positive, but probably not doing enough to influence your buyers. If it is a poor web site, then it is certainly a negative to your company and you are most likely losing customers to your competitors, without you even knowing it!

If you are not sure what to do, then start by getting an evaluation of your web site. At least you will know what you are missing. That said, it is fairly easy to know if your web site is good or bad. You can simply ask a few customers or friends to give you an honest opinion. If it is really bad, then take it down immediately and put up a message saying “under reconstruction”, then get it fixed fast! If it is okay, then you still want to fix it ASAP. Every day that passes does not help your business!

So what type of web presence do you really need for your IT business in today’s World?

Much has changed in the way VARs and MSPs do online business over the past few years but there are two basic things that jump out.

1. Less focus on selling actual hardware, software, supplies or accessories.
2. More focus on selling managed services and Cloud solutions.

Better sites highlight the business strengths of the VAR, MSP or ITSP. Customers are looking for technology partners who can help them become more competitive in all areas. There is no limit as to how technology can influence the success of a business. Traditional IT-centric VARs and MSPs are adding telephony, broadband Internet access, business continuity, digital signage and more to their portfolio.

Here are 10 things that VARs and MSPs can do to have a powerful web presence that will positively impact their IT business.

1. Get a professional look and feel – At least look good!

The look is the first impression, so make it count. It should follow some best practices to deliver the best possible online experience to your customer and prospects. Have some great graphics. Navigation should be simple. Good structure and content. Make it easy for visitors to contact you (include your phone number and online chat). Try to have a decent video to talk about your strengths and who you are! Ask your customer to do some video testimonials.

2. Integrate a blog and social media into your web store – Find new prospects every day!

Keep your blog up-to-date and feed content through all of your social media networks, every day! Link everything back to the appropriate landing page of your website or web store. Consider doing some search engine marketing to drive the right traffic. Remember that search engines rank original content from blogs much higher!

3. Service Catalog – Showcase every Managed Service or Cloud app that you offer!

With a comprehensive service catalog, you can instantly start to market and sell all types of services just as easy as you would for selling a laptop. Managed services and Cloud applications are becoming commodities so it can be treated like any product. Sure there are all sorts of service level components tied to each service, but you can also include all of these details in the descriptions. You can always quote for the most complex solutions.

4. Product Selection – Sell only what you want to sell!

Several e-commerce solutions offer everything that Ingram, Tech Data and Synnex sells. However, with over 1 million items, it can be overwhelming for both the reseller and the buyer to digest. Filter out what you do not want to sell. Typically, the most successful VARs and MSPs sell less than 1,000 products. Only a few hundred represents 80% of their sales. More is not better!

5. Marry every product with services – Include services as related items for every product!

Your customer can find and buy any product that you sell on your web store. Every product they find should also show a related service component! The end result will be more products getting sold with some type of managed service or Cloud solution attached. Bundle everything!

6. Keep your web site updated – No one likes an outdated web site!

Your message needs to be simple, clear and effective. Invest in getting an editor to review and correct your copy, but do not forget to update it as your business evolves. Add video content as often as you can. Update your blog often. Change graphics often. Add content that will help you to attract and engage your visitors!

7. A transactional website trumps a regular “read-only” web site – Allow people to buy!

When you allow customers or prospects to actually buy something or request a quote, you generate more “sticky” traction. As the future evolves, most everyone will be shopping online. Start offering the ability today. Keep an eye on mobile e-commerce as the trend is growing. A web site that allows your visitors to buy or request a quote will generate more sales for you.

8. Integrate in real-time with your suppliers to streamline procurement – Save time and costs!

If you buy from distributors like Ingram Micro, Tech Data or Synnex, then you can save a lot of time with real-time XML between your system and their systems. It allows you to also buy at best costs and automatically manage the entire order fulfillment process. This can also allow your customer to self-check the status of their orders on their online account.

9. B2B procurement for your large clients – allow them to buy 24/7 and manage their transactions automatically!

With the right e-commerce platform you can create a personalized web portal for every large buyer. The product selection, prices, terms and conditions can all be tailored to each customer as well as their employees’ preferences. With this sort of personalized VIP customer access to doing business, your clients will become more “sticky” to your company.

10. Expand your e-marketplace – Offer “affiliate” programs to sell into places you never thought possible!

With the right e-commerce platform you can create different “skins” of your web store that other organizations can use to buy from you – all from within their personalized web store. The product selection, prices, terms and conditions can be tailored to each customer group. It is a great way to set up independent sales agents in remote areas to represent your company and grow sales.

There are many more things that you can do to build the ultimate web presence. Starting with these 10 things will get you on your way. If you need some help in getting this done right, contact one of the VAROfficeSuite partner’s ibiz10 at www.ibiz10.com to discuss your situation and needs or arrange a demo to see for yourself.

Julian Lee

One Example of a good web presence for an HP Partner with e-commerce functionality:

 

With Service Highlight:

 

hpwebstoremangedservicescreenshot

 

With a Product Highlight:

 

hpwebstore screenshot