If you haven’t yet done so, why should you consider selling online? There are many reasons. Consider these:
You can work from home and organize your working hours flexibly. Instead of having to drive to the office in the morning, you can work from your living room or be there for your family during the day and work in the evening.
You can increase your income as you see fit. Unlike an employee, you decide how much you want to earn. You can scale your business with the time and money you invest.
You are free (within legal limits) to decide which products you want to sell on the Internet and you can bring your personal interest to your business. Instead of making money just by doing your job, you enjoy what you do every day.
Unlike starting a traditional business, selling products online requires little capital. You can start with small investments.
Step 1: market research and product selection
Product and market selection is crucial for the further success of your online business. Maybe you already have an idea of the product you want to sell? In this case, it is advisable to check critically the evolution of the market situation by using various methods of market research.
Consider conducting surveys of potential customers, read current market research, and analyze competitors.
Many newcomers to e-commerce too often take their own interests as a starting point and do not take the time to consider whether there is sufficient demand for the product.
To learn how to sell on the Internet effectively, it helps to find online stores that sell the same or similar products to the ones you are considering; rate them positively. A certain level of competition can show that you have discovered a lucrative market niche. However, if the competition is too strong, you should reconsider your idea. If the market is dominated by large players and demand is already saturated, it will be difficult for you to find your place.
When selecting your products, also consider the possible margin. The demand is good, but if high prices cannot be imposed in the market, there may be times when you are no longer profitable after deducting the costs of the online store, hosting, and commission when sales are realistic.
To prevail over the existing competition, it is advisable to find a small product niche. Instead of opening an online store for accessories, you could specialize in patterned socks; instead of selling different kinds of tea, you could only sell white tea.
Step 2: create a business plan
Many online store founders are tempted to skip this step since they are not looking for investors and do not need the document to apply for a loan from their bank. However, you should take the time to write a business plan for your online store.
The plan will force you to think ahead of all of the important startup factors. If you present in writing your competitive situation, your entrepreneurial profile, your product, your financial planning, and your marketing strategy, you will see weaknesses and gaps that you still need to work on. At the same time, you will be able to better recognize the strengths of your business.
The business plan is an important guide for starting your business. If you use a business start-up advisor or tax advisor for financial planning, they can use your business plan to get a complete picture of your project and make more reliable assessments.
If you decide to use a grant or loan for your start-up, you are usually also asked for a business plan.
Step 3: selecting the sales platform and setting up the store
Already in the business plan, you need to determine which sales platform you choose for your products. In order to be able to sell products on the internet, there are different models that you can choose from.
Go through online marketplaces
A third possibility of selling your own products online is offered by online sales platforms such as Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba, which are also called online marketplaces. The advantage here is that you don’t have to make customers aware of your store with a lot of effort since you benefit from the traffic of the corresponding platform. The downside: You have to pay a commission and you are limited in your shop page design.
Step 4: find suppliers
If you make your own products, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you will face the challenge of finding a suitable supplier for your products. Depending on the orientation and the quality requirements of your store, it is possible to call on domestic and foreign suppliers.
Contact the supplier personally, by phone, or by Email. Is he easy to reach and does he respond quickly? Is he friendly and service-oriented?
Order samples of the products you plan to use in your range to get a feel for the quality.
Step 5: marketing planning
Is your social selling system in place? Now you need to take care of marketing and advertising for your products.
As a seller of products on the Internet, there are many marketing possibilities that you can combine as you wish. However, you should take your product and target group into account when choosing your strategy: for example, a lifestyle product aimed at a young target group may be marketed well by Instagram, a useful household product may be better sold by GoogleAds or SEO.
Gain insight on how to market your website and gain experience in potentially appropriate marketing formats on a low budget at the start, before investing larger sums.
If you find that you are not getting good results, you should not give up marketing. Instead of wasting your budget on ads, it might be worth hiring a service provider who, due to their experience, will be much more efficient.
As profitable marketing measures, you can maintain your own pages and profiles in major social networks such as Instagram or Facebook. Connect with people who are interested in the field in which your product is located and contribute useful content. Do not display advertising exclusively for your own products.
Also, post informative and detailed articles on your website to reach users who search for information on the topic through Google.
Once prospects have visited your online store, you can also try to keep in touch with emailing to possibly make a (re) sale at a later date.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the effect of offline marketing in drawing attention to your store. For example, present your business at trade shows and distribute flyers or postcards with a QR code from your online store in places where your target group is located. Cafés, doctor’s offices, libraries, the possibilities are endless. Carry business cards with a link to your online store when you network at industry meetings and conferences.