How to Sell Products Online | eCommerce Getting Started Guides
Creating an eCommerce brand involves a plethora of steps. Beyond thinking of a catchy name and building a website, there are plenty of moving processes that need to be taken into account. Despite this, starting to sell products online is still a great business model, as the overheads and costs are far lower than a physical store.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a basic guide that’ll teach you the basics of selling products online.
In the following guide, we discuss:
- Identifying products to sell
- Selecting a consumer group to target,
- Planning your brand, business and marketing strategies,
- Building a website with eCommerce functionality, and
- Advertising and marketing strategies to help you get your products in front of the right consumers
Getting Started with Selling Products Online
Before you buy a web domain or design pretty packaging, read our basic guide and learn how to sell products online. With this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an eCommerce entrepreneur in no time.
1. Decide what products you’ll sell
The single most challenging aspect of selling products online is the very first step; deciding what to sell.
First, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll create your product from scratch or source and resell an existing product.
When deciding what you’d like to sell online, consider the following:
- You could develop a product based around your own wants, needs or desires. If you feel like there’s a tool, object or item missing from your life that could improve your day to day processes in some way, you could create a solution for yourself and others.
- You could take your passion or hobby and build an online store that sells products that align with your interests.
- You could discuss various pain points that members in your family, friend groups or community experience on a regular basis. Once you’ve identified a common grip, you could innovate in this space. Here, you supply them with either a brand new solution or a better alternative to an offering with a poor experience.
The process of deciding what product to sell online can be an online strategy in itself. Thanks to today’s highly-connected nature, there’s enough space in the market for any player to enter and innovate. The next step is just as significant: deciding who you’ll market your product to.
2. Identify your target market
In today’s world, just about any consumer with a smart device can be contacted and communicated to. True brand loyalty is achieved when consumers form an authentic connection with your brand.
Once you have decided on a product strategy and have refined your offering, the next step is to identify the correct consumer group to target.
First-time online sellers may be a bit overwhelmed, but there are a number of ways for you to identify a consumer segment, you could:
- Develop a consumer persona based on demographic, psychographic and buying behaviour assumptions. Once complete, seek out consumers with a similar profile to target
- Investigate your competitors’ social network pages, forums and spaces wherein their consumers communicate
- Create a survey, poll or similar to generate data and insight about potential clients
- Use an online tool such as Google Analytics. Conduct research around search patterns that are relevant to your product and target accordingly
While researching target audiences, keep the following in mind:
- Segment size: A smaller segment will have less competition and so may be easier to target and connect with. On the flip side, a small consumer group may mean fewer sales and thus, fewer products.
- Geographical location: Specifically for online stores, one thing to keep in mind when selecting a target market is their location. Geographical location plays a part in the delivery and possible returns of products. This can have an effect on cost and logistics, and thus, your bottom line.
- Related audiences: While communicating with your target, there may be some overflow segments that will be important for you to consider. For example, if you’re selling a dog toys online, the dog owner would be the target consumer as they have buying power. However, pet sitters may be a lucrative related audience segment to communicate to too.
3. Develop a brand, business and marketing strategy
Most eCommerce businesses rush into the finer details of online selling. With haste, they can often forget the most important steps involved in selling products online: planning. Creating a logo, building a website and designing packaging should follow only after various strategies are in place.
Before you start to sell products online, you need to devise a few strategies for various processes relating to your online store.
- Plan a brand strategy: First, you need to determine how you’d like your brand to be presented to the world and how you’d like your customers to relate to it. Develop a brand identity by ascribing values, a personality, a vision, and other brand-related variables to your entity.
- Plan a business strategy: Next, determine what you’d like your business to achieve, and how. Set out clear objectives, identify your business’ key competitors and refine your profit-generating financial performance model.
- Plan a multi-channel market strategy: Finally, determine how you will market and advertise your products once your online store is set up and running. Later in this article are several marketing avenues that you can pursue to sell products online. For financial, budgeting and human resource purposes, it’s important to consider these variables early on. Consider your marketing channels during the strategic planning phase.
4. Create your online store
Next comes the all-important step of building a website with eCommerce functionality.
For this, there are a plethora of different web building avenues and online selling platforms for you to consider. You could:
- Build your own website using a CMS (Content Management System) such as Magento, WordPress, WIX or SquareSpace. Be sure to integrate the relevant eCommerce software.
- Make use of an existing eCommerce-driven platform that streamlines the online selling process. Examples include Shopify, Volusion or BigCommerce.
- Bypass the website store set up entirely and sell via a marketplace such as eBay, Amazon or Etsy
- Make use of a social media platform and sell products online via Facebook or Instagram
If you decide to build your own online store, there are several essential elements to consider for your website’s design and function. As well as considering inventory tracking, payment gateways, shipping options, delivery methods and more, some of the key things to include in your website are:
- Detailed product descriptions of each item for sale. For SEO and indexing purposes, try and include up to 300 words for each product entry. Make sure your text is inclusive of terms and phrases that are relevant to your target market and their online search behaviour.
- Well-structured category pages. The structure and flow of your products is important for the overall user experience of your website. With the category pages, make sure that it is easy for your customers to see the full scope of your product offering.
- A contact page with relevant contact details including a contact form. Be sure to include an autoresponder to your form that notifies the customer that their message has been received. Also, capture the email address with a CRM (Customer-relationship management software).
- Other key elements include related products on each listing, integrations for social media networks, email marketing integrations and many more.
5. Advertise your products and market your online store
Now that you’ve built a great eCommerce website, you’ll need to market your product offering to your customers.
In this day and age, digital marketing has opened up plenty of doors for brands and businesses to get their faces in front of their audiences. There are a number of avenues for you to advertise your business through and connect with your audience. Not all avenues will be relevant to your brand, so be sure to select the online advertising channels that are most relevant to your audience.
Some multi-channel online advertising strategies you may choose to investigate include:
- Social media strategies
- Email marketing campaigns
- Paid advertising
- Content marketing
- Video content marketing
When you select your marketing avenues, remember not to spread your resources too thin. Only select the most relevant channels, at least in the beginning, that are most valuable to your audience. If you’re not sure which these channels may be, return to your planning and possibly conduct more research.
Breaking into the online selling world can be extremely rewarding. Keep in mind, however, that many eCommerce brands fail due to the sheer volume of tasks involved in bringing a product to an online market. While the DIY approach is great for some, it is overwhelming for others. Serious business builders, who want to focus on perfecting their online product offering, need a better approach.
At BuzzBrand, we know that building a business is a tough, multi-faceted process. To help you focus on growing your brand, we offer a full-service online store set up and management to help you on your entrepreneurial road. Not only will we build a great eCommerce website for you, but we’ll take care of the operations and running thereof. We also offer supplementary services such as inventory management, deliveries support and more.
As no two brands are alike, rest assured that we’ll build a bespoke online strategy for you. Our strategies, tailored to your brand and business, are designed to help you reach your objectives and maximise profits. Start building your eCommerce business, get in touch with BuzzBrand and chat with one of our eCommerce specialists.
Do you have an idea for a product to sell online? What do you struggle with when it comes to your online store? Share your questions and feedback with us in the comments section below!