eCommerce is one of the fastest-growing industries in 2021, projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022.
The outbreak of COVID-19 that forced us to shop from home, the convenience of online shopping, and the wide variety of options available are probably the factors contributing to this growth.
If you have been thinking about selling your products online, then this may be the right time to start.
Though the thought of setting up your online store and selling your products might seem daunting, having the right resources at your disposal will make the process much easier.
1. Pick the Right Platform for your Online Store
To start selling your products online, you must start with an eCommerce platform. Such eCommerce platforms usually offer hosting capabilities and a website builder that helps you customize your store according to your needs.
There are many website builders that help you set up your website and start selling your products—some of the most prominent ones being Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and BigCommerce, WordPress (with WooCommerce.)
Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce builders and powers over 1,000,000 businesses worldwide with thousands of great apps to choose from its app marketplace. This can however be an expensive option if you need tons of customization.
BigCommerce has a lot of built-in features and offers a robust platform to sell your products. A lot of these features are however limited to higher-priced plans that are ideal for businesses with a large turnover. If you are just starting out, some of these features may not be available to you.
Wix and Squarespace are both modern website builders that are easy to set up and use. Neither of them is however primarily eCommerce-focused. As a result, a lot of features that are available on Shopify or BigCommerce are not available here. They are however good platforms to go with if you only have a limited SKU of products to sell.
Depending on your demographics and industry, you may also want to consider launching a mobile app instead of a website store. The cost of launching a mobile app can cost several thousand dollars, and this can hence be relatively a lot more expensive than launching a website. This should be a consideration when you start out.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform for your business will empower you with the right tools and offer hassle-free integrations that can help you start selling your products within no time.
2. Pick a Reliable Shipping Partner
If you’re selling online products, you should look for a shipping partner who can handle transporting your products. This will be entirely based on your budget, the kind of products that you are selling, and the delivery times you are looking at.
You can pick a shipping provider based on your location. Ensure that you pick a reliable shipping provider who offers guarantees and coverage for your products. Also, make sure that the delivery times you promise your customers are fulfilled by your shipping partner.
3. Find the Right Niche
While you may be tempted to go after a broad assortment of products to sell, it is a good idea to hold back and focus on a small niche within your industry, to begin with. This will let you optimize your supply chain and throw all your bandwidth into establishing your presence in this niche. The lessons learned can then be used to expand into other niches over time.
If you do not have a product to sell yet, it is a good idea to research the market to identify products in your niche that solve a real problem. Products that have a branding potential are easier to market on social media, and may have higher conversion rates.
4. Promote your Products Using the Right Channels
Once you’ve set up your online store, added products, and chosen a shipping partner, you need to start promoting your products on various channels. This will help users discover your store and start shopping.
You can use various mediums to promote your products, such as social media platforms, email marketing, online forums, PPC advertising, affiliate marketing, etc. Understand your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) so you can quantify how much revenue each channel is generating.
The channels that you pick entirely depend on your ideal buyer persona. Researching your competitors will also be of great help when you’re trying to figure out the right channel for promoting your products.
For example, suppose your ideal customer persona is a millennial who mostly hangs out on social media channels such as Instagram and TikTok. In that case, you should try organic or paid promotional strategies on these platforms.
Similarly, if you’re promoting high-value, niche B2B products, affiliate marketing may be your best bet.
5. Use Email Marketing to Automate your Communications
When you don’t have a lot of customer interest yet, it may be tempting to minimize costs by doing things manually. After all, automation tools cost money.
However, it is worth pointing out that the only way to scale your business is by removing yourself from daily operations. Automation helps you achieve that with relatively low expenses.
With an email marketing automation tool, for instance, you can set up emails that will be sent to your customers based on certain triggers.
You can set up “thank you” emails to be sent each time an order is placed. Or, you can set up an email that says that you’re looking into the issue when you receive any customer complaints.
You can also set up emails for cart abandonment, special occasions, or to promote upsells and cross-sells to your customers.
Such email marketing services also offer personalization to offer a good customer experience. You can segment your email list into different target lists. You can then schedule personalized emails to each list to improve your conversions.
6. Retarget your Website Visitors Using Paid Advertising
Even when you’re able to generate a considerable amount of traffic to your online store, you’ll notice that many of them abandon your site and forget about your products.
To revive their memory and urge them to purchase your products, you can use remarketing strategies.
With the help of IP or cookie tracking, you can find users who have visited your site at least once. These people are more likely to convert as they are already familiar with your products. But, make sure you comply with GDPR and other data privacy laws in your jurisdiction.
You can then run social media ads to specifically target these users with personalized ads. This can be a great strategy to improve your conversion rate.
7. Use Marketplace Platforms
One of the perennial dilemmas that businesses face when moving online is making a choice between setting up their own online store and selling on third-party marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or Poshmark.
With your own store, you control pricing and also retain a higher chunk of revenues as profit. With marketplaces, you often lose a substantial percentage of your sales in commissions.
But here is the thing - sites like Amazon and Etsy have the kind of reach that will take your own store several years to compete successfully.
Selling your products on these platforms can be a great way to get your products in front of a massive variety of customers. All these platforms offer programs that make it very easy for you to do so.
Sure, your margins using these platforms are much lower than selling products on your own store. But the higher volumes can more than compensate for the lost profits.
8. Secure your Business With Commercial Insurance
Running an online store, or any business for that matter, is fraught with a lot of risks, many of them unforeseen. You do not want to juggle unnecessary risks and surprise costs. Having commercial insurance can be very important.
While picking insurance, ensure that you have all the necessary liabilities covered. Having commercial insurance for eCommerce will keep you covered during tough times and give you a sense of security while you work towards growing your newly found eCommerce business.
9. Invest in Social Presence
Social media is a potent tool to grow your following, convert more customers, and increase brand awareness as you’d eventually discover along your journey.
Invest in social media marketing starting from day one. Set up your profiles on popular social media channels such as Instagram and start posting visually appealing content. We previously discussed the power of automation. Check out scheduling tools that you can use to publish content at the best times of the day in advance.
You can have a mix of both promotional and informational content on your social media feed to keep the customers engaged while not bombarding them with promotions. Ensure that you keep posting at the right time to increase your engagement and convert more sales.
To keep things interesting, you can hold contests and giveaways for your social media followers. You can also devise a user-generated content strategy to increase your sales and gain increased visibility amongst your target audience.
Start Selling your Products Online Right Away
Selling your products online has never been easier. So, if you have been hanging on to the thought, then this may be the right time to take the first step forward.
The tips offered in this guide will help you get started with the process. So, start implementing these strategies right away, and you’ll soon see your eCommerce brand grow in no time.
Author Bio: Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of business tools and resources. He is also the author of ‘How We Did It : 100 Entrepreneurs Share The Stories Of Their Struggles And Life Experiences’.