The Internet has had a significant impact on commerce, with nearly all brands jumping online to sell their products. It has also opened opportunities for fledgling businesses to sell their trade to a wider audience. With everyone now using the Internet to build stores, you are in for a lot of competition when you try to sell your products online.
How do you break through the noise and sell your products online? Read on to find out.
Since you don’t have to deal with construction costs or rent/lease payments, that cuts down on initial setup costs considerably. Day to day operating expenditures are also much lower since you don’t have to worry about utilities and wages. Depending on your business model, the only major physical expenditure you have to deal with is maintaining a warehouse for stock.
One of the biggest limitations of running a physical store is that you typically have closing times. This limits how many customers you can serve daily. With an online store, customers can make purchases even when you’re asleep, maximizing profits.
— Mark The Garlic (@GarlicUK) January 15, 2017
Furthermore, you can run the store from wherever you are.
The location is another major limitation with running a brick and mortar store. Unless you are in a good spot, getting people to drop by can be a challenge. That’s not the case when you go online. Customers can visit your website or social media store anytime they want. Going online also lets you capture customers from far-flung places, even from other countries.
One of the important considerations when expanding your business is growing your product line. With physical stores, this entails a lot of work. Online selling makes it easier as you only need to add the new products to your catalog. Tracking which products are selling is also easier, helping you make better decisions for further expansion.
Whether you are a new store, or an established one, you will need a defined online strategy. eCommerce Fuel says that time is of the essence. You want to launch your products quickly to make their presence felt early. Many choose a “soft launch,” creating basic entries for new products in their online shop.
Once the initial launch proves successful in generating a buzz for your products it’s time to do a full launch. This is where you can go all-out with the promotions. A teaser campaign is a good way to start drumming hype for the grand launch, like Nintendo does here for the Switch:
The initial customers you will get from the soft launch can also be mobilized for this purpose. They will be the first people interested in your products, and you can later use them to get more retweets and shares on social media.
Contests and giveaways also work well to generate interest online. People love the idea of getting free gifts, which means you can expect to attract a large crowd. Be aware that this may attract people who are solely there for the freebie and are not interested in your products. Work around this by having the giveaways/prizes tie up with the products you are launching.
Another important aspect of understanding how to sell products online is making good use of social media. While these platforms are well-established as promotional tools, they have also become a marketplace for goods. To get the most out of social media, you have to take advantage of both aspects.
Stephen Fusco, Paypal’s GM for North America, says that your social media strategy should match with your target customer to attract their attention. This includes knowing which platform your customers use when looking for goods like yours:
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is focus on engagement starting with a good headline. Don’t just use “Product X for sale,” come up with a clever title. For instance, you can highlight particular features of the item in the title itself. As you are likely going to post about the same products multiple times, don’t just stick with the initial title you used. Come up with a different title for each new post to keep customer interest.
Trends come in handy want to seize possible viral moments. Look for trends that relate to your products and use their corresponding hashtags. Holidays and public events are the easiest ones to ride, as Lazada shows on Chinese New Year:
You can also come up with your own trends and hashtags. This is going to be harder, though, as you need it to gain traction to increase the prominence of your product posts. Buying retweets and shares will help you create that initial wave of activity. From there, you can build more engagement and get people talking about the products you offer.
Another great way to convince people to purchase your products is by letting them read reviews. Getting those reviews, though, is where it gets challenging. Who does the reviewing is one of the considerations here. While reviews coming from the general public are welcomed and will help boost awareness about your products, it is the influencers you want to go after.
Online influencers have the clout and power to actually persuade people to buy the goods you offer. This is why people like Kylie Jenner make so much as influencers online. They have engaged audiences who pay attention to them:
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) March 13, 2016
Find out who the influences your target audience by taking a peek at the reviews of similar products. YouTube reviewers are particularly popular product influencers, with their video reviews being watched by the millions. A good example is tech channel IGN, which is popular with video gamers for their early reviews of new titles.
Learning about influencer marketing is very important, and likely more than we could comfortably cover in this article. Take the time to get familiar with Twitter influencers in this article. Once you have your influencers, you can give out samples for them to review. In most cases, it will be the finished product. But you can also generate early hype for new releases by providing pre-production samples.
Toy manufacturers, for instance, provide popular YouTube reviewers like Vangelus with pre-release samples of their new products for this purpose.
As a courtesy, provide another sample that they can give away as a prize. This can ramp up the excitement for your products more.
When the reviews come out, be sure to share them with your audience and call on them to spread the good reviews. Thank the reviewers for their time whether the reviews turned out good or bad.
While we have been talking about how to sell products online, that doesn’t mean you forego offline promotions altogether. Printed media is still one of the most popular channels you can use to promote products offline. Aside from getting the usual ad space, you can also write press releases for your brand. Have your press releases published in papers and magazines around the location of your physical business, and make sure it prominently features your website URL.
Another popular tactic for promoting your products offline is by handing out stationery items. These include:
In all of these, you can have images of your products printed on the side. This way, people can “see” your goods even when they are doing other stuff, like writing notes. The URL of your online store should also be prominently displayed to encourage them to visit. This may seem old-fashioned, but none of this can be neglected. It is still an important aspect of business.
Setting up your own website-based store still remains as one of the most popular ways of selling products online. The store can either be connected to your physical store, or it could be a stand-alone.
Building the website
You know longer need to hire a programmer to actually develop your web store. Building one is now a lot easier thanks to a variety of tools. Shopify is one of the most popular of these e-commerce tools. The software lets you build a complete e-store from scratch, complete with virtual shopping carts and transaction management. It also lets you customize the look of the site to your liking.
The website for Death Wish Coffee is an example of an online store built using the platform.
Setting up payment options
Paypal is the most popular choice for online payments to web stores. The platform lets customers send their payments to you quickly and securely. Do your due dilligence and look at alternative options like:
Just make sure that these are also secure for the benefit of buyers.
Doing shipping and delivery
Unless your e-store is connected to a physical store where customers can go and pick up their orders, your next task is to sort shipping. Rates are going to be the major factor when deciding which shipping method to offer. You want your shipping rates to be as low as possible. One way to deal with this is by using real-time shipping quotes, which charges customers with the exact amount you are expected to pay the freight company.
Be aware that the larger shipping companies offer discounts to small-business:
— FedEx Office (@FedExOffice) December 27, 2016
Be sure that the courier you use has a good track record for buyer satisfaction.
If you don’t have the resources to set up your own online store, an alternative is to sell your products from an e-commerce website. There are plenty of these, from global to local ones. The three most popular ones you want to take advantage of are:
Ebay is often considered as the granddaddy of all buy-and-sell sites. Despite its age, ease of use is still one of its main attractions. All you need is to create your ad, post pictures of the products, and you are good to go.
Universal Gadgets is a good example of a highly successful Ebay store with more than $18million in yearly sales.
Be aware that recent changes the site has made, including the removal of some seller protection features and increasing fees, have sellers concerned. Be aware of this as you go after the sizable user base.
Amazon is another pioneer in the online selling trade. The company has since diversified, with specific labels focusing on particular product categories. Just like other sites, Amazon lets you build a hosted store you can fully customize.
MusicMagpie took full advantage of this to build their store on the site, allowing them to become one of the top stores on Amazon.
The site’s Fulfillment by Amazon program is also useful if you want to get your inventory shipped to customers without too much hassle.
Unlike the previous two sites, which host general merchandise, Etsy is geared more toward arts and crafts, and vintage products. As such, if you are either a manufacturer or a seller of such goods, Etsy can connect you better with buyers who are specifically looking for your products. Nicole de Bruin is one such artisan who found success on the site, selling more than 200,000 items.
Selling on Etsy goes in a fairly similar manner as to other ecommerce sites, though you get lower listing charges here.
While Facebook is primarily meant for connecting and interacting with potential customers, there is also a growing marketplace within it to directly sell products to them. Stop trying to sell things informally on groups. You need to set up an actual Facebook Store page as it offers buyer and seller protection.
A proper Facebook Store will have the products displayed with a ‘Buy’ button for quick purchases. The button links to your web store or inventory database and automatically completes the transaction without the need for redirects. This helps keep buyer interest longer, ensuring more successful conversions.
Online Japanese merchandise seller Onegai Onii-chan uses such a page along with its website to cater to patrons.
Building your Facebook store does require some more tinkering than regular pages. Particularly, you need an app that will connect the page to your web store and pull product information from it for display. There are plenty of platforms you can use for this purpose, such as Shopify.
The Internet offers businesses a large marketplace where they can offer their goods. But to make the most out of it, you need to know how to sell products online effectively. This involves:
Doing all of these will help you increase sales and establish your online business more effectively. Don’t hesitate anymore and go online to sell your products. Buyers are waiting for you.