E-Commerce 101: How to Start Selling Your Products Online
For those who have just recently decided to take the leap and turn their e-commerce store idea into a reality, you’ll find that that while the process is invigorating, it can also be daunting if you don’t have the right tools at your disposal. Understanding how to start selling your products online and developing a strategy for the success of your e-commerce store lies at the heart of success. To get you started and to ensure that you are on the right bath, below is your ultimate guide to selling your product online.
Set Your Store Up for Success
Starting an e-commerce store is a big decision, but you know you’re making the right one when you are clear on the reasons why an online store is better than a brick and mortar option. Online stores are advantageous for a number of reasons:
- Start Up Costs
First and foremost, when venturing into setting up your e-commerce store, you need to realize that your startup costs are meant to be significantly low; the reason being that you aren’t dealing with expenses such as rent, taxes, and insurance. You also shouldn’t be incurring the expense of hiring an employee.
What you should do though is anticipate the costs that you are going to have. For instance, you can expect costs in regard to the domain name, the host site, website development if you hire a professional, a payment system, and a security system. By making a list of all of your expected expense, you’ll be able to prepare for the initial financial investment. In addition, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate.
- Greater Customer Reach
The customer reach that you have with an online store as compared to a brick and mortar establishment is vastly different. With an e-commerce store, you’re able to tap into a larger audience, potentially increasing your revenues. Keep in mind though that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you want the vast customer base, you are going to need to work for it.
- Changes to the Shop
Finally, since you are dealing with an online store, you should realize that you have the opportunity to make quick and effective changes. These changes can be to your marketing strategy, your products, price points, customer outreach and engagement, and so much more. Because of the chance opportunity that is available to you, taking advantage of it when necessary is what will set you apart from your competitors.
The Preliminary Questions
Once you’ve hashed out the costs and understood the basic tenants of an online shop, there are a few preliminary questions that you need to ask yourself before setting up shop. By sifting through the following questions, you’ll be able to continue building the structure of your business in the best manner possible. There is also no order that you need to adhere to when answering these questions. They are essentially the bare bones of your business and they all work together to bring the ultimate result.
- Do I want a professional to build my shop or should I try it on my own?
The first question deals with starting to build your online store. Some people opt to hire a professional, while others believe that they have the technical abilities to do it themselves or they know someone who can help them out. If you aren’t tech savvy and you want to start out strong, it is best to go with a professional. Just don’t forget to work it into your budget.
- What elements can I customize?
Your next question is what elements can you customize in your online store. To put it simply, the elements that you should be focusing on most are the logo and the style of the webpage because they are what your buyer is going to gravitate to first. By having them developed by a professional, you can ensure that your customizable elements stand out very well from the rest.
- Which is the most effective payment system?
Another very serious consideration that you’ll need to make for your online shop has to do with the payment system. Most online stores will include a few forms of payment system, but the most popular include PayPal and Authorize.net. If you do choose either of these options, there are fees involved. Those fees need to be calculated into your overall cost expectations for your online store. By managing these costs well, you’ll be able to determine if you’re making a profit or if you need to make changes.
- How do I put together product images?
Finally, another one of the most pertinent questions that goes into your online shop is how you put images of products together. Some individuals prefer to get a professional to take the photographs. But, if you cannot afford the cost of a professional, there are some excellent cameras out there that can get the job done. You should aim toward a DSLR model that has a tent. These two features will allow you to take high-quality photographs that give your customers a good sense of your product.
Your Marketing Plan
Once you’ve put together a balance sheet and have solidified the website, payment system, and logo, your next issue is your marketing plan. The marketing plan is extremely important because it is going to determine the ultimate success of your online shop. The first question that you are going to need to address is who are your potential buyers and how are they going to get access to your shop.
- Buyer Persona
Your buyer is identified by what is known as a “buyer persona.” Your buyer persona comprises of demographics, behavior, and interests. Demographics are features such as their age, location, and gender. Each of these elements needs to be as specific as possible. Next, behaviors are what your buyers are most likely to do in terms hof decision making, purchases, what technology they use, and how they shop. Lastly, your buyers interests are what they are most likely to identify as something they relate to. Once you’re able to develop your buyer personal down to the most minute detail, you’ll be able to move onto the next step of your marketing plan – which is how your specific buyer is going to find out and reach your online shop.
- Advertising Options
Your buyer is going to gain access to your online shop through the advertising options that you choose. Keep in mind that the advertising avenues that you choose for your brand need to be commensurate with what your buyer is most likely to access. For example, if your buyer is highly unlikely to use Facebook, then you shouldn’t waste your time or money advertising on Facebook.
A few of the most common advertising options include social media, paid posts, pay per click advertising, forums, and your own personal blog. In addition, you can also tap into content and make sure that it is search engine optimized. By creating content that your readers are likely to read and optimizing that content for visibility, you’ll be able to increase the chance that viewers are going to reach your online shop.
Fine Tune Your Product
As you start selling products and as your online shop develops, you’ll find that changing your shop on a constant basis can have some fantastic results. You should aim to change your shop based on buyer preferences, trends, and expectations.
For instance, one area that you’ll want to tap into is the “specialty” craze. This trend allows you to cater to niches of your target market. These niches include individuals who are looking for products that are identified as handmade, process oriented, premium materials, and fair wages. By creating specialty products, you’ll be able to not only ensure that your products are excellent, but you’ll also be able to tap into a new market and increase the price point of your product.
Another example of fine tuning your product or store is implementing the impulse products. Impulse products include little items that buyers really don’t need, but don’t hesitate to buy last minute. These impulse products include items such as candles, novelty items, and attractive little trinkets that are rolled out during holiday seasons. By staying in tune to trends and buyer expectations, you’ll be able to create a more well-rounded and successful store.
Overall, setting up shop may seem like a challenge and a lot of work up front, but by taking things step by step and ensuring that you are covering all your bases, you’ll be able to have a smooth and successful transition. In addition, it is also helpful to get in touch with bloggers and other members of your community to not only ask questions, but to also gain advertising opportunities. Through constantly inquiring, formulating, strategizing, and working through the process of developing your online shop, you’ll continue to see positive and worthwhile results.