Part 1 – I want to sell my products online
You’ve developed a great business and your products sell like hot cakes amongst your friends and acquaintances, at events and even in the high street. However, if the time has come for you to build your own website and sell you products online, what are the steps you should take? In this guide we’ll help you to understand what you need to consider when taking your products onto the internet and show you why it’s best to have industry experts on standby to guide you through each step.
Research your audience
There are numerous things to consider when creating an online business. A sensible starting point is to research your audience. Find out the trends of a buyer and create profiles or personas of the types of people you would like to attract. Find out what types of websites your personas are likely to use and see if it’s possible to offer your products upon them. As an example, if your audience is likely to use eBay then this may well be a good site to sell through.
For a more professional image you will almost certainly want to have your own ecommerce website. But before we talk about that, let’s take a look at the options available.
Where to sell your products online?
Before you begin investing in a new ecommerce venture, there may already be a number of ready-made websites from which you can list your products. Amazon, eBay and Play are all areas where you can offer products while sites like ArtPal, Etsy and Zazzle allow those creative-types to sell our artistic creations. All of these sites are marketplaces where people sign-up to buy and sell. Some marketplaces will be targeting specific niches while others are more general.
There are both advantages and disadvantages in using a marketplace to sell online however a major consideration is your image. Do you want to be seen as an established, reliable business with backing or do you want to look like someone selling items from your living room? Quite often you’ll need to do both – build a website but also sell via a third party.
What are you trying to sell?
Marketplaces are great if you want to sell physical products but it’s often more difficult to offer services. As an example, eBay has strict rules about offering anything that may be considered ‘intangible.’ This can include anything from digital goods, design services or (more bizarrely) the much-publicised ban on selling ghosts, spells or haunted goods!
As a result of such rules it may not always be possible to use a mainstream marketplace for certain businesses. Marketplaces are available in a wide variety of industry niches but sometimes a website will be more viable.
Advantages of selling in an online marketplace
- Established marketplaces will already have members and so they come with a read-made audience.
- Most marketplaces have large marketing budgets and so some of the marketing work will be done for you.
- The sites are often designed with mobile-friendly design, membership and payment methods all built in.
Disadvantages of selling in a marketplace
- Unless you have your own website then you may not look like a properly funded company. This may be fine when selling small items but if you want to be a serious contender, you need to have a serious online presence.
- Sites in your niche will also have huge numbers of competitors. You’ll need to keep your costs low so people chose to shop with you.
- There can be very complex terms, conditions and payment procedures. Some also employ feedback mechanisms where one unhappy customer can damage your reputation and deter others from buying from you.
- There will almost certainly be fees with some marketplaces taking a significant percentage of the money you make and become a significant overhead.
More often than not, the best approach is to have your own website and link this to one or more of the marketplaces above. You then get to sell on your own site where you can set your own pricing, but you can also offer your items at a reduced rate via the marketplaces. Sometimes this will encourage people who have found you on a marketplace to buy from you; if they notice the items on offer via your website are slightly more expensive then they may well realise what a great price they’re getting by buying from you via another site.