There is no better time to start selling your products and services online. The demand for technology-driven sales, saving consumers time and effort, is higher than ever. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores rely on online advertising and web-based sales portals for a large volume of their traffic and sales.
A newcomer to the world of selling online may be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, sales channels, and marketing know-how needed to get started. We’ve put together a brief but comprehensive guide on how to start selling online so that you can put your dreams into action today.
Identify Your Product
If you already have a brand established or product developed, you should skip ahead to laser targeting the perfect demographic. However, if you are a budding entrepreneur who is still looking for a foothold, you’ve got tons of research ahead of you. There are many ways to source stock, whether it’s a product or service. Reselling is one way of making money online.
All you need to do is find a product or service which is in demand and currently being fulfilled at a rate at which you can make a profit. Almost all large retailers offer affiliate programs whereby you are paid a commission on the sales leads amassed. Creative individuals, engineers, inventors and designers should look towards which talents can be harnessed profitably. You ideally want to pick something that you can do or make quickly and repeatedly.
Regardless of whether you’re making your own product or reselling, there will always be two options. Niche products and commoditized products exist in every industry. The most popular sellers are typically commoditized products. They include major brand names and staple goods. Think Fisher-Price, Nike, and Levi Strauss. These products are so popular that you can resell them and often make a tidy commission.
Niche products on the other hand only appeal to a specific market. Only a certain segment of customers will be interested. The up-side to niche products is that demand is high and supply is low.
Great examples of niche products include handmade arts and crafts, food, pet products, and specific marketing services. Your brand can be built around either a die-hard selection of niche products, high-end commodity items only or a combination of both. Center your product line around goods and services which solve a problem but there is no need to stock complex solutions only. Simple products attending to immediate wants and needs work very well.
Finding the Right Demographic
Once you have determined the products you want to stock based on the brand you want to build, it is time to find the right demographic so that you know how to begin marketing. Some may argue that determining your demographic is the first step before selecting a product. How you go about structuring your approach depends largely upon how well established your sales concept is.
New brands will need to consider their future and how they need to present goods and services in order to be accepted by mainstream consumer marketplaces. Determining your demographic and setting out your marketing strategy go hand in hand. Always take the time to consider who your prospective buyers are, and the general approach which has worked for your competitors. Once you know who you will be advertising to, it is time to move onto marketing.
Learn the Basics
If you start by figuring out your basic marketing channels and strategies, putting together your site or online store will be much easier. Decide whether you’re going to running paid advertising campaigns or promoting using free methods only. Regardless of which type of advertising you will be running, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following marketing methodology:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Keyword Research
- Link Building
We’ve linked you to industry leading beginner guides for each core area of selling online. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basic practices and terminology, it is time to build your website, sales page, or online store.
Launching Your Site
The first thing that you’ll need to decide is whether you’re going to be hosting your own website or using a third-party store like Shopify. Hosting your own site comes with many benefits but there is a steep learning curve.
Between domain registration and hosting, installing a content management system, developing a look and style, and populating the site with practical components, the task is one that most beginners never complete. The simplest way to get started is to buy a domain that comes with WordPress hosting.
All you’ll need to do then is install a good template and customize it. Instead of struggling with managing your web funnels, automation, and sales pages, try an all-inclusive service like Systeme.io. Alternatively, look towards WooCommerce, but you’ll need to set up your own payment gateway manually.
Content Marketing and Site Structure
A site is nothing without structured, strategic, captivating content. The target demographic which you worked out will help you to build interesting articles, landing pages, email marketing campaigns, and social media posts. Make sure that your site is filled with a decent number of products as well as all prerequisite pages. At a minimum you need:
- Home Page
- Online store/Product pages
- About us
- Contact us
Create a Sales Pipeline
Your sales pipeline will almost always involve at least three steps. Your site needs content to raise awareness, for example, a promoted social media ad featuring your brand. Once the customer knows who you are and has visited your site, you then need to turn them into a lead.
Leads, or potential buyers, normally supply their email address in exchange for access to discounts, featured content, or promotional eBooks. The final step of a marketing funnel is upselling just prior to closing the sale and encouraging your customer to share their happy experience with their friends, family and associates.
Every good sales pipeline needs to be tested against a competing model. When you use a leading tool like Systeme.io, all of your metrics and reporting are unified into one location, with the added convenience of campaign management, email marketing support, and advanced marketing automation.
Continue to Optimize and Expand
Once you’ve got your website up and running and you’ve set up a few sales pipelines, continue streamlining the user experience for convenience. Test different products, landing pages, search engine optimization strategies, marketing funnels, and always pay close attention to your metrics.
The better you understand your customers and the way that they interact with your site or sales page, the better you can customize the user experience. You should always be looking for the most attractive way to present your products, shaping your online sales for ease of use and convenience.