How to Transform Your Company's Website Into a Real Money Maker This Holiday Season Ecommerce is not only for retail businesses — service-based businesses need to seize the holiday season market, too. Here's a strategic plan for SMBs and the agencies that serve them, emphasizing the benefits of transforming websites into transactional sites.

By Itai Sadan

Key Takeaways

  • Transactional websites cater to a broader range of transactions beyond traditional retail sales — basically, what we would normally think of as ecommerce.
  • For service-based businesses, turning your website into one that can actually make you money presents an opportunity to open up an untapped revenue stream and increase customer satisfaction.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Online holiday marketing has traditionally been focused on retail businesses, their promotions, and the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Ecommerce holiday sales are projected to reach between $278 billion to $284 billion this season, according to Deloitte's annual holiday retail forecast — with so much money involved, isn't it a shame that non-retail businesses won't get their cut?

It is, but not for long. For service-based small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and the digital agencies that serve them, this article unveils a strategic blueprint to harness this untapped potential.

Unlike retail websites that sell tangible goods, service-based websites provide information about their services, pricing and expertise. Think beauty salons, dog trainers, cleaning services, vets and even digital marketing agencies themselves. These businesses don't normally sell online — and that's quite the missed opportunity.

Transforming non-retail websites into transactional sites is a strategic move, allowing service-based businesses to capitalize on the holiday season's heightened consumer activity. It's also a great opportunity for the digital agencies that serve these businesses to get their piece of the proverbial pie as well.

Related: Retailers Are Going to Shatter Discount Records This Holiday Season — But You'll Have to Shop the Right Way to Cash In

What are transactional websites and what are the advantages?

Transactional websites cater to a broader range of transactions beyond traditional retail sales — basically, what we would normally think of as ecommerce. Some examples of transactional sites include sites that allow visitors to purchase services, tickets, digital products, vouchers and more.

Create a new revenue stream

For service-based businesses, the advantages are straightforward. Transactional sites present a huge opportunity to open up an untapped revenue stream, particularly during peak shopping season. Ask yourself: How can my website do more than just provide information? How could it really drive revenue for my business?

Increase customer satisfaction

Beyond the immediate revenue potential, there's real long-term value for SMBs that provide online shopping experiences to their customers, including increased customer loyalty and satisfaction thanks to the added convenience.

Drive ongoing engagement and repeat business

Before customers complete online transactions, users typically need to grant consent for promotional communications. This creates an opportunity to send users engaging emails about new offerings and exciting promotions to drive repeat business.

Control the customer experience

It's also worth mentioning marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr as alternatives. However, these platforms come with high fees, expose clients to competing offerings and provide limited control over the customer experience. In contrast, a transactional website lets SMBs shape their own customer journey and create a trusted, brand-focused environment where customers can confidently make purchases, fostering customer trust and loyalty. Plus, when you sell directly from your own site, you aren't sharing a large portion of your income with third-party platforms.

Tap into a huge market opportunity

As more individuals shift towards online transactions, ecommerce naturally becomes necessary for SMBs. However, according to 2021 research by Salesforce, 37% of small business owners in America have not tapped into the ecommerce market.

Agencies can become an indispensable partner to their clients

Agencies can use transactional sites as a gateway for upselling related digital marketing, but there's a grander prize on the horizon for agencies besides the immediate gains. By positioning themselves as indispensable partners in their clients' digital success stories and integrating their services directly into their clients' revenue streams, agencies transform themselves from mere service providers into valued partners in their clients' long-term success.

That's the sweet spot every agency aspires to reach — increasing client stickiness or elevating client lifetime value (LTV) — without a big investment on the agency's side.

Related: 5 Underrated Tips for Brands to Boost Holiday Sales

The costs and benefits of offering transactional websites

The investment (and risk) of turning a website into a transactional site is relatively low. It primarily requires a mindset shift — getting to that "aha!" moment where you understand the potential and break the misconception that ecommerce equals retail.

Once you realize that offering transactional capabilities is a natural move for SMBs, the rest is simple.

Ecommerce sites sometimes have a bad reputation for being tricky to maintain — and that's not totally unfounded. Selling physical products online can be a major logistical hurdle. However, transactional sites for service-based businesses are much simpler to build and maintain. For example, service pricing tends to remain stable for extended periods and inventory management, product catalogs and complex operational tasks are not part of the equation.

In short, SMBs and the agencies that serve them can enjoy all the ecommerce benefits without the hassle.

From an operational standpoint, you just need a website-building platform that understands transactional sites and offers the ability to build them for clients, preferably at an attractive price. As for timing, well…the holidays are just around the corner.

No time like the holidays

There's no better time than the holidays to start selling online. Here are a few use cases of how SMBs can take advantage of transactional capabilities during the holidays:

  • Holiday service packages: Special holiday-themed bundles, such as relaxation and pampering packages if you run a spa or salon, or holiday photography packages if you're a photographer.
  • Holiday gift vouchers for loved ones: Gift vouchers for services such as personal styling and wardrobe consultation.
  • Tickets to events and workshops: Offer free tickets to in-person or online events your business is hosting.

"Dress up" your services and related products with some holiday spirit. Whether it's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas or New Year's, there are plenty of opportunities to turn your or your client's site into a money maker.

Related: 13 Ways To Increase Your Ecommerce Sales This Holiday Season

Don't sit out this holiday season

I can't stress this enough: Whether you're an SMB or an agency, don't sit out this holiday season. Turning your website into a transactional site allows you to capitalize on holiday shopping, no matter what business you're in. And for agencies, this means you can generate more revenue, deliver more customer value and position your agency as an invaluable digital partner.

So gear up, stay agile and make this holiday season one to remember.

Itai Sadan

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Duda

Itai Sadan is the CEO and co-founder of Duda, a professional website builder for agencies and SaaS platforms.

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