A great percentage of businesses today have some sort of an online presence, including their own e-commerce store. Therefore, learning how to sell products on the internet is not a skill that is optional; it is a necessary skill particularly for new businesses that do not have the luxury of an already established distribution chain.
Admittedly, learning how to sell your products can be somewhat of a daunting task to many; this is regardless of whether you are tech savvy or not. Of course, there are a few advantages to being tech savvy but that should not worry you at the moment. You need to figure out what your product is, how to come up with the product (whether to purchase or manufacture), how to market these products and finally how to sell and distribute them online. No matter the size, whether it is a main source of income or a side business, building a business can sometimes be a very overwhelming task, and more often than not time is major constraint as there are other things in play such as increased competition and costs.
However, thanks to the advancement of today’s technology there are countless ways that this particular process can be made so much simpler for you. A couple of decades ago, in order for you to make any money from your small business then you would have to go through the cumbersome task of locating and negotiating a lease for a store front. You would also need a warehouse if your business handles large amounts of inventory, hire staff to help you run the business, and spend countless nights awake wondering whether the tens of thousands of dollars that you have invested in the renovation of the physical store is going to have any substantial impact or not. Businessmen in the world over can now exhale a sigh of relief that these days are finally gone.
Benefits of online business
One of the key benefits of conducting an online business is that a substantial portion of the overhead costs that are associated with the business tend to be minimized as compared to a situation where one would be setting up a physical store. This portion of your budget can now be transferred elsewhere where it can serve in growing your business substantially.
By mastering the art of selling products via an e-commerce website also confers the benefit of mitigating a substantial amount of financial risks that you would have otherwise been exposed to. It eliminates the need for you or your business to have a form of physical location or to pen down an expensive multi-year lease.
You should note that this information is not meant to imply that maintaining an online business is a walk in the park. It is, however, true that through the application of the technology that is at our disposal today, you are capable of creating and growing an online business with increased expediency as compare to what it was like a couple of decades ago.
One of the reason the internet has grown in popularity as a medium for conducting business is the fact that it can allow you to have an easy access to millions of shoppers worldwide. Moreover, because of its global reach an online business can literally be open for 24 hours a day every day. This is tremendous firepower in business and if utilized in the right manner it can help you reap serious rewards.
Admittedly, technology has its limitations as it cannot possibly guide you on tough decisions such as the kind of business to be in, the services to offer, products to sell, or how to manufacture your products in an efficient manner. However, what it can do is offer you with the capacity to present your products to a huge number of prospective customers online and simplifies the process of getting money from the customers’ pockets into your own.
In business there are a lot of tasks that are mundane but are important to the business, quite frankly if we all had a choice we would prefer not to do them. Luckily, with automation you have this choice and you can now free up a substantial amount of your time and devote it towards performing more important tasks in your business.
Each and every day, there are millions of shoppers that visit online market places with the intention of finding the right product for them to buy. There are businesses that have already set up their structure to meet this demand and they are moving tons of products already. This goes to show that there is a lot of potential in selling products online.
If you have already come up with your business model and have products ready to sell, there are a number of sizeable market places which provide you with the opportunity of uploading pictures of your product and commence selling them on the spot. Examples of some of these marketplaces are Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Etsy, and many more. The benefit of these sites is that they are capable of matching the overwhelming demand with the appropriate product. Therefore, you will always have a market for your goods thus enabling you to move them that much quicker.
These kinds of marketplaces are great as they provide you with an easy opportunity to market your products online. However, they are not always free and this will eat into your margins. Furthermore, it takes out a little bit of brand image when you use third party marketers. Your business stands to benefit greatly if you are able to create your own e-commerce website. How this can be achieved will be discussed in detail much later.
Setting Up e-Commerce Store
Here you need to ask yourself one important question. Consider the average online shopper that is looking for a specific product but wants the best value for money. Then why would this shopper who is browsing for products on Amazon or eBay purchase your product when it looks almost identical to that of your competitor. You see what these storefronts do is that they arrange their products much like any regular physical store would; according to the category of the product. Coupled with the search function that makes items easier to locate, there is a very high likelihood that the shopper will not see the difference between your product and that of the competitor. The purchase decision will probably come down to mundane things such as color or what is cheaper. Therefore, if you truly want to be successful then you need to consider having your own online store. This will help your product stand out from the crowd and also give your product a sense of authenticity.
Admittedly, it would be simpler to set up your own website and sell your product directly using Amazon, Facebook, Etsy, Alibaba or eBay. In fact, in the recent past these sites have focused on simplifying the task for the average user. There are many benefits to using these sites as they have a greater reach than your starting online store would probably have on its own. However, the most common mistake beginners make is that they rely almost entirely on these sites to run their business. For example, the Algorithm that is employed by Amazon to allow the users to search and find different products is in a state of constant change. Therefore, one day your product may come up in the top searches and the next it may not come up. Also, on Facebook, your shares and ads are dependent on a similar algorithm that is always changing. Moreover, you would be required to spend some significant amount of money so that your shares can reach a certain number of people. These are additional costs that cut into your margins. Not forgetting that there are competitors that are selling products that are similar to yours and will often result to undercutting to win over customers. You will be forced to respond in kind resulting is a situation that can be defined as a race to the bottom.
How to Sell?
Basically, if you are planning to sell your products on Amazon you will be one of many merchants competing for the same clients. Amazon can be likened to one huge supermarket and you will be one of the many suppliers. Your products will be categorized depending on functionality so there is likelihood that your product will be displayed right next to the competitors’ products.
Given this situation, a lot of merchants will resort to reducing their prices in order to stay competitive. While the end consumer greatly benefits from this, you as the merchant will have a totally different experience. It has long been the consensus that a price war will ultimately confer no benefits to the parties involved; it is a race to the bottom from which everyone does not profit. However, there will always be that one desperate merchant that will always slash their prices so that they can win the customer from you. This is just one of those things that you need to prepare yourself to deal with when you trade on this platform.
After all, it will often prove to be an arduous affair to set apart your brand in marketplaces such as Amazon, Facebook, or eBay. From the consumers’ perspective you will only be another merchant that is selling a generic product. The consumers being the rational investors that they are will often look for the best value for money in these platforms; the only way to tell if a product is valuable is through reviews however reviews can also be faked. That being said, the main factor shall always be money and the consumers will look for the cheapest product that has acceptable reviews.
This goes to show that in creating your own brand, in the course of time you will be able to build an online asset that is valuable and unique. A robust brand has the ability to evoke a sense of trust from the shoppers. When it comes to success in online marketing, trust is one of the key features that you need to pay keen attention to.
Put yourself in the position of the shopper, would you purchase an item if you did not trust the brand? Probably not. In the next series, we will elaborate more details about building your brand.