There’s a lot more to selling things online than just putting items on Amazon or eBay and hoping for the best. It all starts with developing a plan for how to approach the situation. It should be something you know and are passionate about. Here’s what you need to know and what to consider before selling products online.
You’ll need some bare minimum branding at the very least. It starts with a name for your business and domain. Choosing the name of the website and domain is almost as important as the products you’ll be selling. It should be something that’s easy to find but still stands out and attracts people.
You’ll also want to come up with a logo, website design, cover photos for social media, and the like. The more recognizable you’re branding the better. Don’t forget to keep it consistent so you’re always sending the same message no matter the platform.
Decide Where to Sell
Selling products online is much easier when you know where to sell. eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and Etsy are great places to start. These services help small businesses get set up and start selling. You can also create a standalone website or work with an independent platform like Shopify. You can even sell things directly through Instagram with new and innovative shopping features.
Decide on Payments to Accept
You want to get paid for your goods and services, right? That means deciding on what payments you want for your store. Accepting payments can get complicated if you want — or need — plenty of options.
If you have an independent store and want to accept payments, then you can get a shopping cart or payment page/form from the payment processor, such as PayPal. This third-party handles the payments for you when someone makes a purchase. It takes a few seconds for the payment processor to connect to a bank or credit account and pull the money from it. These options also offer security measures to protect everyone involved in the process. PayPal, Stripe, and Square are the most common and popular online payment processors.
If you’re using an e-commerce platform such as Shopify or Amazon, they usually have the payments built in. Some of them might let you work with a third party if you want but will likely charge you a fee for doing so. They want you to use their first-party systems.
When determining which types of payments you want to take, stick to the adage of “the more the merrier.” You should accept credit and debit cards at the very least, but you should also consider some digital payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
Consider Shipping Costs
One of the downsides of selling products online is that people can’t walk into your store and walk out with their goods. You need to ship their purchases to them. Amazon has made fast, efficient, and free shipping commonplace, but not everyone can afford to offer that. You need to work out your shipping rates and how they could affect your profits before listing them. Make sure to balance costs as you don’t want to lose sales due to expensive shipping, but you also don’t want to lose money by covering the costs yourself.
You should also consider branded packaging. Custom packaging is more expensive, but it looks a lot better. Customers appreciate the extra effort that goes into branded packaging. First impressions count and the first impression someone has of your product is the box it comes in. It’s worth looking into your options.
Advertise Online Through Different Platforms
Advertising is the key to success with any business venture. You could put together the best website in the world and sell the best products, but what does it matter if no one knows about it? Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all great places to build awareness of your website. Building your brand is one of the most important parts of online selling success.
You aren’t limited to social media promotion either. Consider connecting to influential bloggers and content creators. Reach out about potential sponsorships and partnerships. Consider hiring an advertising specialist to handle things for you. There are plenty of different ways to approach promotion. There’s no singular best method, but you need to be doing some form of promotion.
Consider What to Sell
There’s no point in having a store if you have nothing in it. What do you want to sell? It should be something you know and are passionate about yourself. You’ll carry that passion over and make others care about it as well.
Keep in mind that niche products tend to sell better. Avoid the products everyone else is selling unless you can add a unique spin to them. People already have a place to buy that stuff. They don’t want, or need, another. Find a niche and stick to it. Ask yourself what kind of business you’d like to buy from and create it. What would you buy more of if you had the chance? That could be what you sell.
Reviews are the lifeblood of every store or service provider. You should be encouraging people to leave reviews and offer feedback, even if it’s negative. How many times do you check the reviews for something before buying it? Other people are the same.
Not only do positive reviews build more trust for your brand and products, but negative ones have their place as well. These reviews show you areas you can improve to do better in the future. Responding to negative reviews properly also generates plenty of positive press. Let people know you are aware of problems and are actively solving them. Take a negative and turn it into a positive.
Starting an online store can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Keep these things in mind when starting out and you’ll give yourself the best chance at success.