About 70 percent of Americans routinely purchase products and services online. Over the 2018 holiday seasons alone, American shoppers spent a whopping $126 billion of e-commerce purchases.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, these numbers tell you one thing: e-commerce is the present and future of retail. If you’re planning to start a business, it has to involve selling products or services on the web.
But it’s not that simple. Just because almost everyone is shopping online doesn’t necessarily mean your new e-shop will thrive. You have to take the right steps.
Continue reading to learn how to start selling online.
1. Understand the Pros and Cons of Selling Online
E-commerce is all the rage right now, but it’s not the right fit for every entrepreneur.
As such, it’s important to have a good understanding of the upsides and downsides of selling online before setting up your business.
Here’s a brief lowdown of the pros:
- Access to a global market
- You can run the business from home
- Low startup costs as compared to starting a traditional business
- Easier to get started (You can get started in as a little as a day, depending on the nature of the business)
- You can run the business while doing other jobs
- Fierce competition (Big e-retailers like Amazon already dominate the market)
- It can take a long period before your business makes sustainable profits
- There’s a steep learning curve, especially if you lack vital online selling skills like digital marketing
- It might not be possible to sell online if you live in a remote area with a poor internet connection.
When you know the pros and cons of selling online, it’s easier to determine whether to pursue the e-commerce strategy or simply set up a brick and mortar store. For instance, if you currently live in a region with bad internet, it’s not advisable to start selling online, regardless of how amazing your product is – unless you’re willing to move to a place with a good connection.
With a poor internet connection, you will experience challenges accessing your own business website. You won’t be able to do basic things, like uploading product images.
2. Find a Product to Sell
After establishing that selling online works for you, the next step is to find a product to sell.
You could create a new product or sell products that are already existing.
If you’re an inventor, creating a unique product will give you the best chance of succeeding as an online seller. Unique products typically have little to no competition, meaning you’ll start out on a solid footing, especially if the product attracts substantial market demand.
What if you’re not inventor?
Well, lots of online entrepreneurs have found success selling products that aren’t new inventions, and so can you. However, you have to be smart about your choice of product.
This is where market research comes in handy.
What e-commerce niche products have a strong demand? In 2019, for instance, CBD products are selling like hot cake. Handmade crafts, eco-friendly straws and food wraps, pet foods, and specialty coffee are all examples of products that are flying off the shelves.
That said, be careful about choosing trending products. Trends come and go, so you don’t want to be stuck with a product that will be out of demand in a few months.
3. Establish a Solid Supply Line
It’s not uncommon for a product to run out of stock as soon as the business starts selling online. While this means customers are loving the product, running out of stock can hurt their confidence in your brand. By the time the product is back in stock, another business could have taken your place.
This is why it’s important to establish a solid supply line before you start selling online.
If the product is your own creation, ensure you’ve got a sizeable inventory. And if you’re a reseller, find reliable wholesale suppliers. You could also source directly from the manufacturer.
There’s another option: dropshipping
With dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about stocking the product you’re going to sell. You simply find a dropshipper, who will then ship the product to the consumer once a sale is made on your online shop.
Dropshipping is a bit complicated, so be sure to learn more about it before going all in.
4. Set Up Your Online Shop
Finally, you’re ready to set up your online shop and start selling.
Here, you have a couple of options. You could create your own e-commerce website and sell directly to the consumer, or create a page on Amazon, eBay, and/or other major e-commerce platforms.
Setting up your own website is ideal because you don’t have to follow anyone’s policies or rules. However, this option is costlier than selling on another platform, such as Amazon. You’ll have to hire a professional website designer to create and optimize your website for e-commerce.
5. Price Your Product Competitively
Whether you’ll be selling on your own website or on third-party platforms, you have to get your product pricing spot on. If you price it too high, customers won’t look at it twice. If you price it too low, you risk undercutting your profit margins.
So, how do you go about pricing your product?
If it’s a new creation with no competitor, you want to establish what your relatives and friends will be willing to pay. If it’s an existing product, look at the current market price. Depending on how you differentiate it, you can then price it slightly higher or lower than the market price.
It’s also important to get expert insight on pricing strategy. If you’re selling jewelry, for instance, read up on what the experts say on strategies for pricing jewelry.
6. Get Your Shipping Act Together
Selling online means you have to ship the product to the buyer’s exact location. As such, shipping is a fundamental part of your business.
If your business model involves dropshipping, you have nothing more to worry about. But if you’re selling directly to consumers, you have to partner up with a reliable courier. Most online customers prefer same-day deliveries, so ensure your courier offers same-day shipping.
How to Start Selling Online Simplified!
The internet has revolutionized how we do many things, including how we do business.
Today, selling online gives any business an edge. However, getting started isn’t a straightforward process. With this guide on how to start selling online, you now know all the steps you’ll need to take.
All the best and keep reading our blog for more business tips.