If you’re just starting out your online business or are looking to create a new website, you likely know that success is nowhere near guarantee and you may therefore be hesitant to invest a substantial amount of money into your online platform. However, luckily for you, there are many free website builders, webstore builders, and activity booking/event planning tools on the market that you can explore!
One of the major names in webstore building is Shopline. You can customize the appearance of your shop by first choosing from pre-made themes then using drag and drop design to change up the elements. When listing products for sale, there are a few features that stand out like the ability to import products from your instagram page’s photos, the option to set up pre-orders, and the ability to remind customers when a product is almost out of stock. Other built-in tools include membership tiers, coupons, promotions, and store credit. If you wish to further push products, you can have a shopping cart-add on that suggest products to customers, and if they leave a cart without completing the order, Shopline includes abandoned cart reminders. Once orders have been placed, businesses can use Shopline’s order management system which includes delivery tracking. In order to help businesses assess how to improve, there also are analytics and marketing tools (like SEO). As you would want from any webstore, Shopline builds secure websites. If needed, businesses can also reach out to Shopline’s support team for assistance.
In terms of cost, Shopline isn’t fully free. It only provides a 30-day free trial. After that, you must choose from one of their three plans (ranging in price from USD $310-1,780 per year).
Wix is another of the big names in web design, and it can be used to create both websites as well as webstores. Users simply choose a template based on what best fits their needs (whether it be for a blog, an online shop, event management, offline business creating an online platform, etc.) and customize with drag and drop design. If they wish to do so, users can also use ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) to aid the process.
As an added bonus, all websites and stores made with Wix area already mobile view optimized. They also come with a custom domain and email, however the domain will be a Wix domain unless you choose a paid package. There are built-in features for email-marketing, analytics tools, personalized SEO plans, and SSL certified security. Other standout features include the option to create member logins (for member-only pages).
For webstores, there are the standard elements like product listing with coupon and discount options, order tracking, inventory management, as well as more advanced onlines like customized shipping and tax for different regions of the world. You can also set up an online store for drop shipping and multichannel sales.
If you are setting up online booking, sales are commission free and auto-reminder emails are sent to customers. Wix caters its features to a range of business, offering, for example, online ordering and reservations for restaurants. If users need assistance, they can get in touch with Wix’s support team or ask questions through the live chat. Lastly, you can also create web apps with Corvid by Wix.
Wix has a free option as well as four other plans ranging from USD $13-39 per month. Upgrading plans comes with benefits like removed Wix ads, increased bandwidth and storage, more add-on like visitor analytics, event alanders, and site boosters.
Weebly can be used to build both websites and webstores. As with many other website and store creators, users can fully customizable pre-designed themes with drag and drop. Weebly, however, also allows its users to customize by going through the html/css script. All created sites are SSL secure, include integrated analytics, social media marketing, SEO, emailing marketing, website search, and abandoned cart reminders, and they are SSL secure. Users can transfer an existing domain or buy one form Weebly. For webstores, Weebly offers product listing and organization, advanced inventory and supply tracking, coupons and gift cards, the option to set up customer reviews, and checkout with a fully-integrated shopping cart and automatic tax calculator. There are also tools for both domestic and international shipping. If users encounter confusion or troubles, they can seek help through 24/7 email and chat support.
Weebly’s most basic plan is free, and it has three others ranging from USD $6-26. If users wish to connect a custom domain, they will have to purchase a plan. When users pay for a plan, they gain advantages like the ability to sell digital items, access to unlimited storage, phone support, advanced ecommerce insights, more customer payment options, and the removal of ads.
WordPress is one of the world’s most-used website builders. It uses customizable, mobile-friendly themes that are customizable with drag and drop. WordPress offers built-in SEO, Google Analytics, and Mailchimp tools, and users can further add on with limitless plugins for whatever other needs or wants they may have. Webstores set up with WordPress include all the standard features, as well as options to accept one-time or recurring payments and to do international transactions. If needed, businesses can find help from WordPress’s support team through 1-1 QuickStart sessions as well as live chat or email.
WordPress does have a free plan, but many features are reserved for the four paid ones. For example, custom domains, access to live chat and email support, custom ccs, google analytics, custom plugins, the removal of ads, unlimited products, and the ability to accept payment from a wider range of countries all requires a purchased plan. WordPress’s plans, however, aren’t expensive. The cheapest is only USD $4 per month, and they max out at $45 per month.
Eventbrite is used primarily for online event booking. There is a built-in payment process and event managers can view analytics for purchases that are made. While users can’t customize event listing on Eventbriteitself too much, Eventbrite allows users to embed checkout on their own sites or to create custom branded websites (although only with higher transaction cost plans). Eventbrite offers built-in payment processing, analytics, and support. It also has features aimed at both online and in-person events. For example, it offers equipment rentals, staffing and logistic assistance, and mobile ticket scanning for in-person events.
Free tickets sold on the site are always free for the event manager, however, for paid tickets there are three different available packages. One charges a fee of 2% + USD $0.79 per ticket sold, one charges, 3.5% + USD $1.59, and one has a custom option. Packages with higher cuts include more benefits like customizable checkout forms and product training. The fee can be absorbed by either the event manager or passed onto the ticket purchaser.
Another option for online ticketing and event management is Ticket2u. Users can create event listings, customizing with discount and promo codes and registration and reservation forms, and after customers purchase tickets, they can organize the event with participant management, seating charts, stock inventory control, event reminder emails, and more. Management is also made easier with a dedicated organizer page. Ticket2u additionally provides the option to embed a listing on other sites.
Listing events is free, but there is a handling fee for each ticket sale. Typically, this fee is 6% of the ticket price, but for charitable events the fee is lowered to 5%. Organizers can choose to absorb the fee and pay for it themselves, pass it off to customers and avoid the additional cost, or split it between themselves and their customers.
Talking about simplicity and the new trend observant, GoBuddy offers a full online business suite that effortlessly combines product selling, ticketing, bookings, and webinars all in one place.
Without any plugins and coding, anyone can simply register an account and setup own webpage in seconds. GoBuddy provides its customers with a management portal where they can list products and activities, send guests and customers messages, arrange deliveries, and set up automatic billings.
For added convenience, GoBuddy includes software for webinars and virtual activities so users who register for events created with GoBuddy don’t have to download another streaming app or program. GoBuddy also provides unlimited time for virtual activities, allowing for more freedom and comfort as there is no restrictive time limit.
In addition, GoBuddy also allows users to create bundling combinations between products and events. There is also a matching portal where users can connect with other merchants to cross-sell among each other.
The basic plan, which includes all ecommerce and booking software features, is always free, but there is the option to upgrade to the builder plan for HKD 99 per month (about USD $12.50). With this upgrade, users can accept online payments, create discounts, larger shipment networks, live shopping, and access to the matching portal for cross-selling.
A relatively new addition to the popular social media platform Facebook, Facebook Shop provides a market in which to sell physical products. Rather than creating their own website, businesses (and individuals) can post products on Facebook Shop to be bought by customers, something they can do without having to leave the app.
Facebook Shop promotes the idea that this method of combining social media and shopping encourages discovery and hobby shopping through the Marketplace page which shows an assortment of products for users to explore. There is no limit to the number of products sellers can add, and they are all listed in a catalog that shows each item’s name, description, price, pictures, availability, and inventory among other things. Sellers can also organize their products into categories for customers to browse through. If customers have any questions, they can message the business’s pages with their questions.
Currently, Facebook doesn’t charge a fee for conducting sales on their platform or take a cut unless businesses choose to use Facebook’s “Checkout” feature rather than another e-commerce software to accept payment. The fee for doing so is %5 per shipment or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments worth $8.00 or less. Sellers on Facebook Shop can also see commerce analysis in terms of both overall trends and shop performance as well as insight into individual products. As a whole, Facebook Shop provides an easy way to enter the market without creating an entirely new, dedicated website.
Like Facebook Shop, Instagram Shop feature is a fairly recent development in the world of ecommerce. The new feature aims to make selling feel more accessible, especially for small businesses. Sellers must set themselves up as a business account and connect their Instagram page to a Facebook page with a catalog of their products for sale. Businesses can then tag their products (physical goods only) in photos, videos, and stories, making all posts an opportunity to market their goods in a more attractive and engaging format than most typical display methods while curating a feel for their store.
When customers clink a tag, a link brings them to the business’s store website where customers can find the product for sale and actually purchase it. Instagram Shop is working towards in-app checkout (they are currently trying a closed beta version in the US) that will have a transaction fee. However, they have not stated what the fee will be yet.
Business accounts on Instagram can also view analysis like weekly interactions, reach, impressions, and follower growth, as well as analysis on the performance of posts, stories, and promotions.
Shopify is a subscription based software service that assists businesses in website creation and products sales, shipment, and management. It simplifies the website building process for those without prior experience or coding knowledge, allowing business owners to simply choose from a selection of both free and paid themes (these determine the website’s overall look) then customize the final appearance with drag and drop web design elements. A new “Express” theme was recently designed to help traditionally offline businesses create online stores quickly and easily. Businesses can then post their products along with descriptions (Shopify’s software even supports the use of video and 3D images) and organize them into collections by style, item, etc. Shipping costs and taxes can be toggled on and off from being included in the listed price. The software also gives customers product recommendations.
Shopify websites can be linked to Instagram and Facebook Shop accounts and products can be listed on Amazon and Ebay. Further supporting the expansion of businesses’ markets, the software allows websites to be displayed in multiple currencies and languages.
Loyalty and promotion options are also integrated into the cart for easy discount setup. There are many paygates that businesses can choose to set up on their websites, and checkout and payment can either be done onsite or offsite. A new tipping feature was recently added as well. Once customers place an order, they can track it on Shopify’s package tracking app Shop. If businesses wish to, they can test their order system and place mock orders as if they are customer’s themselves.
Shopify’s own transaction fees are separate from the transaction fees charged by each paygate (although Shopify Payments, if used as a paygate, has no transaction fee) though, so businesses will have to pay an additional 0.5-2% fee depending on the plan they have. There is also a $0.30 credit card fee for online purchases.
The software uses google analytics to provide unified analysis that blends in-person and online sales.
Shopify has three main different prices levels (costing USD $29, $79, and $299 per month), as well as Shopify Plus designed for enterprises and Shopify Lite (which costs USD $9 per month for minimal transformation. The software doesn’t include a domain so businesses also have to either buy a domain from Shopify or a third party. Third-party domains will have to be redirected, but Shopify’s URL structure is not ideal for Search Engine Optimization though.
If businesses don’t wish to design a whole new website, they can use Shopify’s software to simply add a buy button to any type of website (like Squarespace or WordPress, for example).
Boutir is an “all-in-one” minimalist shop interface and design mobile app targeting South East Asia. Each store is assigned a unique URL for their site which is both app and web accessible. Establishing a store on the app does not require any design or technological knowledge, and they advertise a three minute set-up time. Businesses can upload products and customers can place orders through a comprehensive transaction system. Selling pages can be incorporated in any website, Facebook page, or blog post. The app offers the option to include loyalty-based promotions, shipping and order discounts during checkout. If a customer leaves items in their cart, they’ll receive follow up encouraging them to finish their transaction to reduce abandoned carts. Other than this reminder, there is no communication channel with customers which is one drawback. After orders are placed, the app supports delivery status checks. In addition to the typical commerce features, Boutir also hosts a blogging platform.
The app provides each store with analytics reports integrated from Google Analytics. For the benefit of business owners, Boutir also holds free online workshops and sells HKD $50 hour long professional e-commerce phone consultations.
There are multiples price levels for businesses looking to sell on the app. There is a free option, but it is limited to 20 transactions a month and 3 product categories so more serious sellers will likely have to pay more for the HKD 988$, 2488$, or 5988$ per year options. Businesses can also choose to pay by month, but for year-long purchases are cheaper. Boutir doesn’t have transaction or listing fees, but there is a 15% commission on online ads spending.
Shopline allows businesses to bring themselves online to the market of e-commerce. It advertises itself as an “omni-channel platform” with “cross-border services” that makes establishing an online storefront a breeze. Businesses design their website using base themes and drag and drop elements, and a set-up workshop is offered for those who want. Businesses can apply for a free custom domain or, if they already have one, utilize free domain transfer services. They can also upload information from an Instagram Store with a one-click import.
The platform has a complete product and order management system. Customers have the ability to leave custom notes for purchases and split orders, and store owners set up loyalty and spending level-based discounts. Businesses can also view reports of customer information, order histories, and product transactions, as well as see important metrics of their sales like daily traddice, sales, new orders, top products, and delivery stats. Shopline also offers integration and access to other marketing tools and trackers like Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and Instagram. Shopline also has their own online marketing academy and does Search Engine Optimization.
Multi-language and multi-currency switches mean businesses can sell globally more easily, and this international ease is supported by multiple delivery options (both local and overseas) and multiple payment options (including both domestic and foreign credit cards).
There is zero commission and no transaction fees. The only costs are the flat monthly or annual fees, and the annual plans are 10% cheaper than the monthly plans. Depending on the option, the year-long plans are priced at US $310, $910, or $1780.
Eventbrite is a platform that assists with the selling of tickets for events. Sellers can collect registrations and sell tickets directly on their own websites or apps with custom payment forms or sell on the Eventbrite website itself.
Organizers can set up private or public events in three different categories: classic, new, and Eventbrite Music. Some features are available only for certain types (for example, add-ons like merchandise and parking passes are available only for Eventbrite Music and new). Once organizers have created an event, they can send out order forms to communicate and collect information from attendees, create custom order confirmation, enable waitlists, manually add attendees to the guest list, and allow ticket/event transfers. They also have the ability to set a refund policy and choose payment options (including currency). If necessary, events can be canceled or rescheduled.
Eventbrite also works with promotional tools like social media integration and email invitations to allow organizers to increase awareness of their events. Customers can also browse for events on the Eventbrite website themselves (where they are all listed, each with a custom URL link), and when they register, they are automatically sent messages with necessary information and updates.
Organizers can look at all their orders as well as their Eventbrite data in real-time, including at total sales and relevant analytics, with customized reports.
Selling tickets through Eventbrite is always free if the tickets are free themselves, but organizers are charged a fee each time they sell a paid ticket (the price of which depends on the organizer’s package). However, if organizers wish to, they can pass along the fee costs to the event attendees and the fee will be added onto the ticket price. With the essentials package, the fees are 2% + USD $0.79 per paid ticket and with the Professional package, the fees is 3.5% + USD $1.59 per paid ticket. The pricing for the Premium package is custom. Higher level packages include benefits like one-stie staffing support, rental equipment, and product training. There are alternative payment processors for non-profits.
GoBuddy provides intelligence collaboration software with a full online business suite that integrates e-commerce, events ticketing and appointment bookings, online webinars and upselling bundles. It particularly helps individuals, micro and small businesses to launch their business online at the lowest possible cost and be part of their buddy community that aims to foster collaborations and co-generate cross-selling together.
It’s an extremely simple-to-use tool that separates clearly between landing pages and online business web pages. Users can use website builders like Wix and Squarespace for their landing pages, while all business web pages can be powered by the software. Users can gain access to all the sales data in the portal, and can easily optimize their marketing and performances across different services offered in their online business. This is a great way to save large setup and operation costs. If a business doesn’t already have a website, they can purchase website setup from GoBuddy from HKD $2000. In addition to selling on their own webpages, sellers can list their products on GoBuddy’s free-to-use marketplace.
There is no limit on the products listings and events ticketing. For online activities, there is no time limitation and the software comes equipped with basic video conferencing tools so businesses don’t have to pay for professional video conferencing platforms. Guests can join online events directly from online too without the hassle of downloading an app either. All businesses are shown data analytics and insights, and they have an unlimited time right to this information in their GoBuddy account.
For checkout, GoBuddy provides businesses with multiple local payment gateway options, and after customer pay they are automatically sent receipts, reminders, updates, and other important information.
Bundling will enable customers to put their products on sale with events ticketing, or other way around. GoBuddy is also offering a great service for users to access GoBuddy’s merchant ecosystem to cross-sell their products and services among each other. This is the true value that GoBuddy believes for fostering collaborations.
There are three different price tiers available to most businesses: basic (free), builder (HKD $99 per month), and business (HKD $349 per month). Paid plans will unlock more features such as cross-sell, online payment options, discount creation and market visibility. Businesses can get in contact for customization or enterprise level solutions.
Businesses can also always add on digital marketing (which can cost HKD $70-250 per month) or social media management (which costs HKD $2000 per month and includes the premium digital marketing plan). Always free though is the option to schedule a 15 minute demos of how to use GoBuddy.
Big commerce is a software ecommerce platform. It has among the most built-in features of any ecommerce platform out there as well as exceptional Search Engine Optimization, however, it has a steeper learning curve for beginners. While users can choose from customizable, premade themes that automatically format to desktop, mobile, and tablet screens, the tech terminology during the design process can be difficult to understand and the editor can be difficult to navigate. On the other hand, it may be more challenging for businesses to design their stores, but this is because almost every feature is already built-in so users aren’t reliant on downloading apps to add on extra features they desire. If businesses prefer, they can still build their site on WordPress.
Businesses can sell physical, digital, and service-based products on their sites, and customers can pay with dozens of digital wallets like Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal One Touch and more. If needed, customers can later initiate returns and refunds through their accounts. Sellers can also integrate with amazon, ebay, facebook, instagram, and brick and mortar stores and, after doing so, easily switch between storefront.
Among the features offered, businesses can create subsets of customer groups for marketing and custom pricing, decide bulk pricing, and set up quote management. For user ease, BigCommerce also automates sales taxes, accepts many currencies, allows cross-border shipping, and has multi-language translation. Additionally, businesses are provided with impressive data reporting tools.
With the Standard plan, the cost USD $29.95 per month with a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee for debit and credit cards. The Plus plan costs $79.95 each month with a 2.5% + $0.30 processing fee. And the Pro plan costs $249.95 per month with a processing fee of 2.2% + $0.30. Each plan has a yearly income threshold, and if businesses exceed the threshold, they have to upgrade their plan. There is also an Enterprise level plan for VIP service, but businesses must contact BigCommerce for price quotes.
Businesses can also purchase launch services (including: Solutions Architecting, Data Migration Services, Implementation Project Management, and Enterprise Launch Coach) and success services (including: Technical Account Management, Enterprise Account Management, Education Services, Enterprise Growth Coach).
Wix assists with website creation for both businesses and other purposes. The website builder asks users first who they are building the website for (themselves, a client, their workplace, or someone else) and then what kind of website they would like to create (options include business, blog, portfolio, fitness, and more) so it can pre-optimize the site before presenting it for customization. -Choose who you are building a website for (self, client, company you work for, someone else), and what kind of website (so it can pre-optimize for you, not just business, can be blog portfolio fitness events etc.) After the Wix generates the base template, businesses choose a theme and design, curate their homepage options, and use drag and drop elements to customize the look. They can also choose from an array feature that they would like to include on their site, from a chat to cookings to a blog to an instagram feed. Wix shows how websites look in on mobile and desktop so businesses can accordingly make adjustments for each format. Additionally, if users already have a website or Google Place listing they would like to use the information from, they have the option to import it. Users can either go through this process with Artificial Design Intelligence taking the lead on site design before making adjustments at the end, or they can do it all themselves. If users still need assistance, Wix provides a getting-started walk-through.
Using Wix websites, online shops can sell an unlimited number of products (both physical and digital), track payments, set shipping rates, receive online payments, and sell on Facebook and Instagram. The Wix app also allows for mobile management of sales.
The Wix dashboard shows an overview of the whole website and its metrics, and online stores can add apps that assist with business like marketing helpers and Search Engine Optimization.
There are several price levels, and they differ for whether the created website includes an online store or not. There is a free plan, but it is limited and users cannot launch an online store or connect to Google Analytics. For websites without a store, there are USD $13, $17, $22, and $35 per month plans. Businesses planning on running a store, however, will have to pay for a plan costing $23, $27, $59, or $500 per month. These prices are based on year-long subscriptions as it is cheaper to make a long term purchase than to pay for Wix’s services by the month.
WooCommerce provides the service of turning WordPress websites into fully functional e-commerce stores. In fact, it is the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress. Using WooCommerce, businesses can design an entirely new store, build off an old store, or add just a single product.
If users have a website already, WooCommerce can accommodate with any design or theme it may already have, but users have the additional option to switch to WooCommerce-optimized themes. Using WooCommerce, businesses design their shop, cart, checkout, and my account pages first before setting up the locale, compiled information on the business origin, currency, and preferred units for sales. They also have the option to add extensions like payment gateways, shipping extensions, accounting extensions, bookings, subscriptions, EU VAT numbers, and more. As WooCommerce works with WordPress, WooCommerce-created websites can simultaneously use other WordPress plugins such as YoAst Search Engine Optimization and WooCommerce Multilingual.
On WooCommerce, businesses can sell practically anything from physical products to digital ones to services to bookings, and they manage order, track sales, and monitor store activity. This can all be done both online and through the WooCommerce app.
WooCommerce also has a neat tax module that assists with tax rate calculations based on store location. With WooCommerce Payments, customers can pay directly without leaving the store, however, this payment method is currently available only to U.S.-based merchants.
Using the website builder is free and it is open-source, however, there are fees starting from 2.9% + USD $0.39 per transition for U.S.-issued cards, and businesses have to have a domain and hosting service, both of which they have to purchase, to utilize its services. Themes, plugins, extension, and develops can all have associated fees as well. In addition to monetary costs, setting up and maintaining the system will cost time. WooCommerce requires installation and doesn’t handle updates in the background for you like other e-commerce solutions so focusing on your business isn’t quite as effortless.
There’s no doubt about it: startups are hard and they’re risky. In fact, on average, 9 out of 10 startups will go out of business. Although founding a startup is inherently risky, there are a few things that can increase your chances of success. American investor Bill Gross conducted a famous speech at Ted Talk, where he talked about what he learned from the data he gathered from hundreds of companies
The Three Most Important Factors
Above all else, the most important thing is timing! It actually accounts for 42% of the differences between success and failure for startups. Success is dependent on whether people need or want your product. If you enter the market when there won’t be demand, you won’t make any sales. So before you anything else, be honest with yourself and truly assess whether the world is ready for or in need of your product.
After timing, the team and idea behind a startup are the second and third most impactful factors (accounting for 32% and 28% of differences between success and failure, respectively).
Your team should be a communicative and complementary group with the necessary knowledge, skills, determination, passion, and willingness to work. The leader should have the social ability to network, build partnerships, seek out investors and other funding sources, talk to the press, and recruit and inspire workers. As startups don’t typically have large teams, the employees you choose are important.
The product itself must also be based on a strong idea and executed well. While the product doesn’t have to be entirely unique or the first of its kind, it does need to differentiate itself from other products in some aspect or another and it shouldn’t enter the market after it is already saturated with similar products. Ideally, you want your product to be so appealing and interesting that people will want to talk about it and, in a way, advertise by word of mouth for you.
Other Important Factors
If you are going into a startup, you have to be passionate about it and love the work. After all, you are embarking on an uncertain journey. If you aren’t passionate about it, how can you put in the necessary time and effort to make it all work. You must be determined and refuse to give up when things get difficult or you face challenges. At the same time, you must also believe in your startup. If you don’t believe in it yourself, you can’t expect others to do so. Additionally, to succeed, you need to make profit which won’t happen if you don’t take risks. And you won’t take risks if you don’t believe in yourself and your startup.
A Well-Defined Vision
With startups, you need a well-defined vision; it’s best to have an idea of where your business is headed from the get-go. One of the biggest things is to have a sensible business model and financial plan. Not running out of money is crucial to your startup actually functioning so have a plan that includes a budget and how to raise funds. Second, as a startup you will almost certainly have limited staff and resources. This means you’ll need to figure out how to be productive and know what to prioritise.
Successful entrepreneurs know when to shift their plans a little. It’s important to observe what is working for both yourself and your competitors, to listen to feedback, and to learn from your mistakes. When things aren’t going quite as well as you’d like or you see opportunity for improvement, adapt and make the changes you need to make!
If possible, having a good mentor to guide you can make a world of difference. Mentors have gone through the process themselves and often experienced similar, if not the same, challenges. This can make their advice an invaluable resource when you find yourself in a tough spot or are unsure of what to do.
GoBuddy believes everyone could start an online business for free. Our team is dedicated to provide a one-stop cloud platform solution to transform your business. Today we are honoured to have Mark, co-founder of Mak’s Brewery, to talk to us about their entrepreneurial story, and the experiences of doing a craft beer business in Hong Kong!
About Mak’s Brewery
Mak’s Brewery (hereinafter referred to as Mak’s) was established in 2014. It is the first craft beer brewery in Hong Kong that was founded by Hong Kong natives. Mak’s was co-founded by three founders.
The origin of Mak’s Brewery…
The story begins with the college careers of the three founders—they originally hoped to try their own business after graduation, and came into contact with the craft beer brewing industry by chance. Mark mentioned that there were not many brands of beer brewing in Hong Kong at that time, and after they came into contact with these brands, most of their target customer groups were foreigners or tourists, so the idea of creating a craft beer brand belonging to Hong Kong people was born.
Positioning of purely locally made beer.
Mark explained that local manufacturing is not just a definition of production location. Marketing, whether the product meets the tastes of the locals, and whether the resources are invested in local circles, etc. are also the meaning of “local manufacturing.” Therefore, in the early days of Mak’s establishment, they spent a lot of time promoting knowledge about craft beer, so that more people could try different flavors of handmade beer, hoping to make Mak’s closer to the local market.
Difficulties encountered in making a craft brewery in Hong Kong?
The biggest problem is…
Mark admitted that there are not many people in Hong Kong who have a deep knowledge of craft beer, and the problem that Mak’s faced was how to get more people to contact with craft beer, and to balance the needs of different markets and appropriately allocate company resources.
Expand product categories and try different promotional methods
Interestingly, in addition to selling craft beer products, Mai’s Brewery also sells different types of products such as shampoos and T-shirts. Mark said with a smile that the initial development of these products was with a fun mindset and a try, but in fact, the development of different products is also valuable for promoting handmade beer and local brands.
In addition, they will also try to participate in different bazaars and workshops to better understand the tastes of the locals and meet the needs of customers.
The importance of online tools?
Mark said that in today’s society, social media and online sales channels are quite necessary for brand promotion and publicity, so they will also use different online tools to expand their brands. But he emphasized that before choosing a tool, you must first understand the customer groups that your brand needs to contact, so that you can effectively use different channels to achieve better promotional effects.
Tips for people who want to start a business?
Don’t do it for…
Mark said that they started their winery business with a fire, and he sent a message to young people to be clear about their brand positioning and market needs, rather than blindly following because a market is very popular.
Pay close attention to market changes and maintain a big picture.
Because social changes are becoming more and more rapid, Mark mentioned that entrepreneurs should always pay attention to market changes and overall trends, and be prepared for future instability. Finally, he also suggested that everyone think about the arrangements for personnel deployment, resource allocation, and entry and exit mechanisms before starting.
“Building a career is a small puzzle in life, if you have an idea, you might as well give it a try!”
It’s a crowded market out there, and if you’re an online entrepreneur, you may be wondering how you can possibly make your product or service stand out from all your competitors’. While it may seem like a difficult goal to achieve, there are a few things you can do to turn it to reality.
What Makes You Different?
Before you even start, make sure to choose an optimal product or service. When trying to decide on what you will sell, think of problems your customers have and figure out how to address them. If applicable, you should also take a look at your competitors and determine what they are missing, then fill that missing niche. Whatever way you decide to make yourself different, make it your brand.
Aside from solving a previously unaddressed issue or simply creating a better product, you can also get a little more creative in how you differentiate your brand. For example, make free one-day shipping, a lifetime warranty, or other appealing guarantees a part of your business model. You must be able to back up any offers though. Another idea is to found a startup with a cause marketing effort and make giving back to your community or a charity a pillar of your business. This method may require a large change in your business model, however, if it was not part of your original plan.
Be honest to your customers about your products and services. If you feel the need to exaggerate about your product’s quality, there is an issue. Instead of making things up (that end to come out in the end anyways), work towards improving and accomplishing things that you can actually brag about. Similarly, admit and mistakes you make and try to fix them quickly. Owning up to an issue and correcting it can turn a bad experience into a good one, and customers remember experiences so this is an important effort to make.
Having a Strong Online Presence
We have already posted an article that goes into greater depth on this topic, but having a strong online presence can make a world of difference for your online business.
The first step is to have your own website. Ideally, it should be simple so people can absorb information quickly and easily, as well as pleasing to the eye. Investing time and effort to ensure it is mobile friendly also means a larger audience will be able to properly view your site. Posting high quality content is another very important requirement. Consider posting on a blog too if you want more web traffic. Education content will win your business favor and reputation, and entertaining content will similarly attract readers. However, promotional content will turn people off. Lastly, pay attention to SEO.
Beyond your own website, you should aim to grow your online presence in other ways. You can try to get yourself featured on other websites. This will help you gain exposure with a new audience and increase your credibility. If possible, having others endorse or positively review your product will help boost its popularity. Another method is to become an online resource. Participate in chat forums answering questions and responding to comments. Lastly, make sure to be active on social media! Social media is an easy way to become a part of people’s everyday lives. On social media, you can interact with customers, post content, and market your brand. Just make sure to tailor your business’s social media persona to appeal to your target audience.
Customer service is another factor that matters heavily to customers. In fact, about 75% of customers in one survey said that they consider customer service a test of a company’s competency. If your customer service is notable, that’s an instant plus for your business and it’ll help you stand out. As a testament to just how much customer service matters to buys, 73% of respondents in a PwC survey said it was an important determinant in their purchasing decisions. The same survey also found consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a superior experience and will be more loyal to brands that provide them.
Always Making an Effort to Improve
Once you have a plan, it’s good to stick to it. But, nonetheless, be willing to change it if you see the opportunity for improvement. Keep yourself informed about new developments in your field and be sure to stay on the cutting edge. Produce new and improved products as your company grows, and as you always want something to differentiate yourself, be willing to adapt and change if increased competition means you are no longer unique.
Planning and managing an event can be a large task, and it inevitably requires a lot of commitment, both in terms of effort and time. This is especially true for larger events. Rather than leaving the planning all to one person, try to organize a group of people who can work together, dividing up the responsibilities amongst themselves. Just make sure that everyone in the event planning group communicates well throughout to ensure as smooth a process as possible.
2. Set a Date
The first thing you should do is set a date for your event. You should choose a date far enough away that you’ll have time to plan. Generally, the larger the event, the more time you’ll want to leave yourself. Be aware of holidays or other events that you may want to plan around as to avoid conflicts and your target attendees already being busy.
3. Make a Budget
Once you have a date, start working on your budget. The most important thing to keep in mind is this: plan your event around your budget, don’t plan your budget around your event. In other words, work with what you have. If you just start spending without thinking about how much you have in pocket, it’ll be easy to go over budget. Account for your most important costs first (like the venue), then move on to the smaller, less-important things to similarly avoid spending too much. It’s always a good idea to leave just a little bit extra in your budget for any unforeseen costs that may pop up.
4. Figure Out Logistics
The biggest logistical thing to figure out is the venue. Make sure the venue you choose suits your needs (for example, it can handle the size of your crowd and any equipment you may need for the event). Ideally, you should look at a few places and compare their costs and included amenities before making a choice. After you know your venue what will be included, start working out the other logistics like food and drink, transportation, parking, sound systems, accessibility accommodations.
5. Advertise Your Event
Now that you have your event planned out, you have to make sure you have people coming to it. Advertise your event and keep track of the responses you get to invitations if you send them out. Activity booking platforms like GoBuddy provide yet another place to list and manage your event as well as software that makes it easy to keep an eye on information like how many people have signed up for your event and to reach out to them with any necessary information.
6. Pay Attention to the Details
While planning out your event, pay attention to the details. Even the smallest of things can be meaningful to your attendees and make the difference between an ok event and a truly memorable one. These small details can be anything from organizational aspects that helped the event run efficiently or entertaining elements that made it really fun.
7. Have a Day-Of Plan
Before your event, make a day-of plan that includes everything from the set up to how you will wrap everything up after the event ends. This day-of plan will help ensure the event runs as smoothly as possible. It should be as detailed as possible and include buffer time to account for any delays as well as breaks for yourself. Have backup plans too in case of unexpected interruptions like bad weather, equipment failure, or cancelations. Everyone working with you on event planning should be able to get in touch with both each other and the suppliers/venue staff for the event. If you can do it, a final walk through a day or so before the event might might also be a good idea
8. Ask for Feedback
After the event, make sure to reach out to the attendees and ask them how they felt about the event. Ask them what worked well, what could have used improvement, and if they have any other suggestions or comments. Giving your attendees a chance to provide feedback will make them feel more appreciated and listened-to, and it is also the most direct way to learn how to improve your events! If you used a platform like GoBuddy, this is an easy way to get in touch with your attendees.
It is with great honor and excitement that we share the news that not only has GoBuddy been accepted into the MaGIC Global Accelerator Programme (Cohort 4), but that it has been announced as one of the Top 40 startups entering the program! The MaGIC Accelerator programme has received a total of 3079 applicants but accepted and aided only 112, so earning a place in the programme is a proud accomplishment.
The Accelerator Program is aimed at accelerating startups across the globe (that are interested in expanding business in the ASEAN region) to be investment ready in just three months, and at building a strong ASEAN startup community by cultivating relationships among companies. Benefits of participation include a stipend, potential funding,a pre-recorded curriculum, expert mentoring, and connection with route-to-market partners for collaboration and increased market access.
In order to be accepted into the programme, GoBuddy had to demonstrate high scalability with a growth potential business model and showcase an already-launched product with traction. As GoBuddy makes its way through the programme, we will eagerly watch to see how it makes the most of this opportunity and chance to grow even more!
“Getting into the ASEAN market has always been our primary target. We have an ambitious mission in helping this region, particularly the individuals and SMBs for digital transformation not by offering them with a marketing platform, but with digital infrastructure that can equip themselves with self-sustainable business success.
Getting into MaGIC GAP is definitely an important milestone for us to tap into this market. We are looking forward to partnering with local startups and organizations to foster digital transformation of SMBs in the region ”
KOW, CEO & Co-Founder of GoBuddy
Founded in 2019, GoBuddy is a software company offering cloud solutions that enable anyone to start an online business and community with their own webstore and booking site at a minimal cost, starting from a free forever basic plan. We streamline operations and optimize the data in retail, events, ticketing, webinars and community building by putting them in one software.
Our solution largely reduces setup, subscription and maintenance costs. Our innovation enables all these data no longer fragmented and segregated, but reunified to foster more business collaborations and build a positive business social harmony.
GoBuddy is excited and proud to announce that having graduated early from the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (a program that provides $100,000 HKD for high-potential startup projects and business ideas), it has been accepted into the 2019 Cyberport Incubation Programme! The Cyberport Incubation Programme is designed to support entrepreneurs and digital-tech startups like GoBuddy with resources aimed at helping accelerate their growth.
Out of a large pool of applicants, GoBuddy was selected to join the program based on its merits in market viability, management team quality and competence, business scalability, prototype/product functionality and usefulness, and innovation.
Companies participating in the program can receive up to $500,000 HKD (equivalent to about $64,512.50 USD) to aid their development. We will initially be supplied with a working grant of $100,000 HKD, then up to a total of $200,000 HKD over a series of three progress reviews conducted every six months. We may earn the last $200,000 HKD after a two-tiered performance driven assessment assessing business performance, accumulated investment, industry recognition, expansion, talent development, and Cyberport engagement. In addition, the program also offers us the opportunity to meet with investors and fellow startup entrepreneurs, as well as other networking opportunities.
We look forward to seeing how we will grow with this wonderful opportunity and learning what the future holds in store for us!
With many businesses providing an online shopping platform for their customers, staying visible in the e-commerce era can become challenging for a lot of companies. Customers are overwhelmed with millions of options and often check out various online stores to receive the best deals.
1) Spend Money to Make Money
Very cliche but very true. When businesses are at their initial stage, they get so engrossed with the idea of success and making profit that they forget that they will continuously need to invest a lot at first to be able to yield rewards in the long term. If you have an online store, know that it’s important to spend on advertising.
2) Become Socially Active
If you are an E-Commerce business, you NEED to be active on all social media platforms- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Having social media presence really does help with raising awareness about your brands, connecting with potential customers and it is also a great way to answer your customer’s queries! The best thing about using social media to promote yourself is that it is FREE, unless you use different tools like FB/IG ads or sponsoring yourself through them.
3) Showcase your USP (Unique Selling Point) at every chance you get
As an Entrepreneur, it is crucial you know what your USP is and that you’re able to ensure that other people know about it too. Your USP is what makes customers choose you over your competitors. It is something which reflects your brand and sends out a message about why you started this business in the first place. Your USP should focus on your target customers because if it doesn’t, your USP will have no meaning. What is the point of having a unique selling point if it isn’t directed to anyone, right?