Moving to the eCommerce space is an exciting proposition for any entrepreneur, but the transition can often be a bumpy road. Without planning or preparation, you can easily hit roadblocks that can derail your goal of making money online. So, how do you start? The first step is answering the “how” and the “why”. Only by understanding why you’d want to start selling your products online and how to do it can you actually pull it off.
Reasons For Selling Online
One of the main reasons for selling online is the exposure that your products get. Over three billion people are now using the web, according to the international communications department of the United Nations. It’s a magnitude of exposure you simply cannot achieve through traditional sales channels and marketing methods. Capturing even a fraction of that three billion can translate to substantial sales numbers.
Another reason for selling your products online is the lower costs. You shave off most of the overhead expenses that brick-and-mortar businesses pay for including office space and a full-time staff to run it. Manufacturing of products that are sold online are usually done in-house or outsourced to more cost-effective facilities abroad. Staffing is usually limited to one or two people to handle customer relations and inventory management.
Last but not least is flexibility and scalability. It’s much easier to expand to new product lines, send notifications and updates to customers, and redesign your brand with either a purely or partially online business.
How to Start
#1 Decide What you Want to Sell
Selling a product online is easy; it’s figuring out what to sell that’s the tricky bit. There are tons of product ideas out there, and each one having multiple variations of it. How do you justify your product idea is the right one for your intended audience? The most important question you have to ask is – what value are you offering to your target market? For it to be successful, a product must solve at least one problem. If not, consumers won’t be able to relate to it.
#2 Find a Vendor
If you already have a product in mind that you want to sell, start looking for a manufacturer or supplier. A trial and error approach is often needed before you can find the right manufacturer for your product idea, but thorough research can minimize the need for switching to different vendors. Weigh the pros and cons of domestic versus overseas suppliers. Another option to consider is partnering with a fulfillment vendor to be able to offer an impressive supply of SKUs.
#3 Figure Out Your Marketing Plan
Your business model should focus on customer acquisition and marketing. How do you intend to acquire customers month after month? What are your customer acquisition costs and is it sustainable over the long term? There are several creative ways to market your product online, some of which include pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, blogging, SEO content, and affiliate marketing. Figure out which one best fits your product, target market, and budget.
#4 Build Your Own Website
Being able to sell your products online through a third-party platform, such as Amazon or eBay, is a great way to bootstrap your business. That being said, you’d still want to have a dedicated website of your own from which to build your professional brand. And while you can easily create a website through a content management system or an endless aisle store, like WordPress, and a plethora of add-ons and tools with simple UI, you’ll still want to invest some time and effort in customizing and optimizing your website.
While brick-and-mortar locations are still producing jaw-dropping figures(think trillions in annual sales), online stores remain a rapidly growing and profitable venture for entrepreneurs who have an idea they want to pursue. Figure out what you want to sell, start contacting vendors, and build your own website.
by: Mikkie Mills