Did you know that 263 million American consumers are shopping online, which is about 79% of the total population of the US?
That's right! If you don't sell your products online, you could be losing over 3/4th of your potential customers. If only there was an easy way for businesses to start selling online.
Oh, wait! There is.
Let me tell you how to start selling online to expand your target market and create new sales opportunities for your business. Stay tuned to this article to discover why you should sell online, what products to sell, and how to get people to buy your product.
Table of Contents
Why Should You Sell Products Online?
There are countless reasons why businesses should consider selling their products online. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant benefits of online selling.
When you sell online through your own ecommerce store or website, it helps you expand your reach and sales opportunities.
Your profits are no longer limited by the number of customers who walk into your brick-and-mortar store. You can sell directly to shoppers from other states and countries.
Setting up an online store helps you cater to shoppers who like to research and buy products at odd hours (when most retail stores have closed for the day).
Shoppers can visit your website, browse products, read product information and reviews, and make purchases anytime, from anywhere. This can increase the chances of you getting more sales.
Get Data-Driven Insights About Online Sales
Leveraging an ecommerce platform helps you get real, data-driven insights about how many people visit your website, which products they search the most for, which pages they visit, which items they add to their carts, and how many of them actually complete the purchases.
Getting these valuable insights about your online store can help you optimize your store to meet the customers’ needs and increase conversions.
Get Better Marketing Opportunities
Having an ecommerce site opens up more effective marketing opportunities for your business. All you need to do is to drive relevant, high-quality traffic to your website and specific product pages to increase sales.
You can also leverage strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO) to attract people who search for products on Google.
You just need to optimize your product pages for keywords relevant to the product and Google will show your website in its search results for related searches. This tactic will again help your online business get more exposure, new customers, and greater revenue.
Increase Customer Retention
Selling your products online gives you ample opportunities to increase customer retention.
Firstly, your customers get the comfort of buying from their homes, which makes it easier and more convenient for them to shop from you.
You can take proper measures to encourage shoppers to return to your online shop. One way to do so is to offer discount coupons or reward points on every new purchase they make. They will likely purchase more from you to be able to redeem the collected points.
Another way to retain customers is to send abandoned cart recovery emails to your online shoppers. You can remind people to complete the purchase through an email and also give them a discount on the products they wanted to buy.
Here’s an example of an abandoned cart recovery email by Moment, which is a marketplace for photographers and filmmakers:
Running an online business is more cost effective than running a physical store. You can save money which is otherwise spent on things like:
- Storefront lease cost or monthly rent
- Salaries of salespeople
- Overhead expenses such as utility bills
- Repairs and maintenance expenses
- Supervision expenses
- And more.
How to Set Up an Online Store for Your Business
Selling online is more than setting up an online store and uploading product imagery and content. It takes thorough market research, passion, and marketing expertise to build a profitable business.
Conduct Market Research
Before selling products online, you need to come up with a full-fledged sales and marketing plan for your ecommerce business.
For this, you should conduct market research to understand:
- How are people spending their money online? What kind of products do they buy?
- What kind of products can you sell?
- Who will be your competitors? How are they pricing their products?
- What will make your products different from theirs?
- How will potential customers find your products? Which marketing channels are best for your ecommerce business?
- How much money can you make by selling a particular product? Which products have greater profit margins?
Find the Right Products to Sell Online
These days, the product market is highly saturated and competition is fierce. If you want to succeed, it is important to carefully choose which products to sell.
- Identify or create products that solve a problem.
- Find products that you are passionate about. Passion encourages you to keep going when the going gets tough. For example, if the beauty industry appeals to you, you should consider selling makeup, skincare, and other beauty products online.
- Hop on trends early to capitalize on them before those products peak in popularity. This way, you’ll be able to establish your brand and sell more.
- Serve a niche audience segment as it is easier to reach, engage, and sell your products to a specific target audience. However, the segment you choose shouldn’t be too small else you won’t be able to scale your online business later.
To analyze whether the product you want to sell on your ecommerce store is in demand or not, you can use Google Trends.
Let’s say you want to sell footwear but are not sure which type of footwear will sell more. You can search for different types of footwear to see which ones are growing in popularity over a specific period of time.
The graph shows how the popularity of boots spikes during the winter months every year, which is the best time to sell them in your own online store.
Source Products to Sell Online
When you want to sell products online, you also need to source them. Let’s look at some of the most common ways to source products for your ecommerce store.
Create or Manufacture Your Own Products
Producing your own products may seem enticing but it involves lots of work. You will also need to consider the cost of raw materials, manufacturing, machinery, factory or production space, and more.
Manufacturing your own products can be time consuming and can increase your startup costs manifold. So, you should only choose this path if you’ve got enough funds to sustain your business in the long run.
Buy Products From a Manufacturer or Wholesaler
You can choose the products you want to sell online and buy them in bulk from the manufacturer or a wholesaler. This type of ecommerce business is easy to set up and scale. You just need to find the right suppliers for your products.
You should consider the cost of buying products in bulk, storing them in a warehouse, and shipping them to the people who place an order in your online shop.
Sell Products As a Dropshipper
The easiest way to sell products online is to start a dropshipping business. You will not have to stock or ship the products yourself.
As a dropshipper, your job is to list products on your website and allow shoppers to place orders and make payments. You will then pass on the order to your partnering supplier who will directly deliver the product to the customer.
Starting a dropshipping online store involves minimal startup costs and is one of the most profitable ways to sell products online.
Name Your Business and Get a Domain
Once you know which products to sell and who your target audience is, you’ll be ready to set up your online store. You should start by finalizing your business name and domain name.
Remember, your website name is as important as the products you choose to sell online. You should pick a name that is easy to remember and type, brandable, and relevant to your niche.
But the name shouldn’t be too common. It has to be available as a domain name and as a social media handle on all major social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Pro tip: Using a relevant keyword in your domain name can help you attract additional search traffic to your ecommerce site.
Choose an Ecommerce Platform
There are several ways to start selling online. You can either build your own ecommerce website or choose to sell in popular online marketplaces.
Sell on Your Own Website
You can build your own ecommerce website using platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify.
Ecommerce platforms make it easy to set up your online store quickly. They come with built-in tools and features to help you add products, manage inventory, accept payments, and streamline the shipping process.
You can also add a shopping cart and other ecommerce functionalities to an existing website.
For example, if you run a WordPress website, you can use BigCommerce or WooCommerce plugins to turn it into an online store and start selling products online.
Sell in Online Marketplaces
Another option is to start selling in online marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Walmart, and Alibaba.com.
Selling in online marketplaces is very easy and offers fast launch times. Once you’re accepted as a
third-party seller in an online marketplace, you just need to:
- Create an account.
- Add your products with descriptions, pricing, and product images.
- Set up an order fulfillment method to streamline how your product will be delivered to the buyer.
- Accept payment from the customer using payment processors like PayPal, Apple Pay, Shopify Payments, and Stripe.
- Ship the product to them.
That’s how easy it is to start selling products online in existing marketplaces.
Major online marketplaces already have a large customer base, which makes it easier for online businesses to begin selling and expanding their businesses.
Create High-Quality Product Content
Once you’ve finalized the products you want to sell online and figured out how to source them, it’s time to present them to your potential buyers.
The main factors that help shoppers make buying decisions are:
- Product images
- Product descriptions
- Customer reviews and ratings
Be sure that your ecommerce store product page design highlights the best parts of all three of these to effectively engage shoppers.
You should write SEO-friendly product descriptions to attract qualified search traffic to your product pages. It will help you generate more sales and revenue for your ecommerce business.
When you search for “buy sneakers” in Google, the search engine shows you different product pages that sell sneakers.
What does this mean for your business?
If you’re able to list your branded store on the first page of Google search results for relevant buying keywords, your ecommerce business website will attract targeted traffic, which will most likely convert into loyal customers.
However, the conversion rate of your ecommerce site or store will depend on a number of factors.
- Does your online storefront have an attractive design?
- Does it offer a good user experience?
- Do you use a secure payment gateway?
- How user-friendly are your shipping and return policies?
And, most importantly, how well do you present your products?
Therefore, you should use high-quality product images and videos to showcase the best features of your products from different angles. You can also include 360° views and in-context photos to engage shoppers.
A haircare brand, Love Hair uses a clean design for their product pages to draw attention to their products. Instead of showing just still shots of their products, the brand uses video content to answer shoppers’ questions.
They also leverage their product pages to educate users about each product they sell, what difference it will make in their lives, and how to use the product correctly.
Decide on the Payment Methods
All online sellers need to finalize payment methods for their online store or website. You can choose any of the popular payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
You should also accept credit cards and debit cards as payment methods. You can also consider accepting digital payments such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
If you use an ecommerce platform like Shopify, they may have their own payment methods as well. Some of these platforms will allow you to integrate third-party payment processors of your choice for free, while others may charge transaction fees.
You should consider all of this when choosing your ecommerce platform.
Set Up Your Shipping Process
As an ecommerce business owner, it is important to calculate your shipping costs and the impact they will have on your profit margins.
You will definitely not want users to avoid shopping from your website because of high shipping costs. But you may also not be able to offer free shipping to users, which will cut off your profits.
So, it’s crucial to find a balance between the two situations and fix a shipping rate that is reasonable for shoppers and doesn’t affect your profits much.
Get the Word Out About Your Online Store
You may set up an awesome ecommerce store but it will not do any good for your business if nobody finds it. Therefore, you should create a robust marketing strategy to drive your potential customers to your ecommerce website or online store.
Wondering how you can do that?
Here are a few ecommerce marketing strategies that can help you build brand awareness and drive more traffic to your web store:
- Do your SEO right to optimize your website and product pages for relevant keywords.
- Promote your physical or digital products on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
- Partner with influencers to increase the online sales of specific products.
- Run affiliate marketing campaigns to offer discounts and encourage people to shop more from your online shop.
Online selling is not limited to selling products on your own website or online store. You should also leverage other sales channels and social media sites to grow your small business sales.
When you choose an ecommerce website builder like BigCommerce, it enables you to list, advertise, and sell your products everywhere. It includes selling your products on Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target, and 100+ channels.
You’ll be able to deliver exceptional shopping experiences to your customers, which will increase the chances of driving sales.
Best Online Selling Practices for 2022
To successfully sell online, you should follow the best practices mentioned below.
- Make sure that your ecommerce site or store is mobile responsive because many shoppers use their mobile devices to shop online.
- Create a user-focused shopping experience to build trust and encourage consumers to buy from you.
- Allow guest checkout because there are shoppers who’ll skip your website if you ask them to create a buyer account during the checkout process.
Ready to Take Your Business Online?
Selling online offers huge advantages to businesses. It makes you look modern and professional along with helping you sell your products to wider audiences.
You should follow the tips mentioned above to find and source suitable products, set up your online store, promote your products, and start selling online.
Do you have questions about setting up your online store or selling online? Reach out to my team of experts for the best advice.