Home Business Selling Online: Simply Being There Doesn’t Cut It In 2019

Selling Online: Simply Being There Doesn’t Cut It In 2019

by Olufisayo
selling online

30 years ago, a computer scientist proposed a brand new way of sharing information across a network of computers. Sir Tim Berners Lee invented new protocols of transferring data and new concepts on how to use the newly introduced network. Soon, brave entrepreneurs have started using this new level of digital reality to sell products to their customers – eCommerce was born in the mid-1990s, with the first thing sold online being Sting’s “Ten Summoner’s Tales” album. And it became one of the biggest phenomena ever, with an estimated sales volume of $2.5 trillion in 2018 alone.

Today, eCommerce is the lifeblood of business (along with advertising, of course). We have online stores ranging from giants like Amazon and Aliexpress to smaller contenders, sometimes selling just a handful of products. Selling online has become the new norm, especially since the number of people carrying small, connected devices in their pockets – smartphones – has exploded in the last decade. There are now almost 4 billion people now use the internet in one way or another, and many of them use it to shop – or at least research products. This is why selling online is a must for every company that wants to matter in business today. Simply having an online store doesn’t cut it, though. Here are some tips on what makes an online store successful and how to stay relevant in today’s crowded eCommerce environment.

selling online

Choosing the right product

One of the most important things you need to keep in mind is to choose the right product to sell. There are two ways in which you can approach eCommerce: by selling commodities or niche products.

“Commodities” in this context refers to products that everyone needs all the time – from food and, say, batteries to bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer. The problem with this massive category is competition: there are dozens of other online stores, often massive players like Amazon, selling the same thing. And if you are a newcomer in the online selling world, you won’t be able to compete with their prices and stay profitable.

“Niche products” is a completely different matter altogether: this refers to products with a much smaller but very specific clientele. The best example for niche products would be those you’ll find on Etsy – these are handcrafted, unique items that you won’t find in supermarkets (and their online stores).

If you don’t have a unique product to offer, combining niche products and commodities is probably the best approach. It’s not all the same what niche products you plan to sell, though – they need to be products that can be sold, products that solve a problem, products that your potential customers will need. Finding these (or coming up with them) is not the easiest task – it takes a lot of research and work invested in them before you can even list them on your online store.

Your storefront

You have space online, you have a domain name – what could be easier than to slap a shopping cart on a WordPress blog and start selling right away? Well, this may be easy when you have one or two products that you don’t plan to sell hundreds of – but it gets more complicated when the number of products and the volume of the orders start to grow.

In many cases, it’s easier – and wiser – to start selling through an already established online marketplace like Amazon, eBay, perhaps Aliexpress – but many other online services now offer options for selling products, ranging from Pinterest to Facebook and many others. If you don’t want to use any of these services, you can always opt for an eCommerce platform like Shopify or if you feel extra adventurous, you can even go for a self-hosted eCommerce solution like Magento or Prestashop. These might seem like an easier solution at first but they do take quite a lot of getting used to – but once you master them, they offer a robust and scalable solution for your needs.

Getting the word out

As we said above, eCommerce is the lifeblood of the business – but it can’t grow without advertising. After all, there are zillions of online stores out there, which makes it hard for yours to stand out on its own. Luckily, there are many ways in which you will be able to reach out to your potential customers online, and some of them are pretty affordable.

Experts agree that sales, giveaways, and promotions can give your online store a sizeable boost on social media – after all, people love bargains and the chances of winning something. Combine these with paid advertising on social networks and you’re on the right track to getting your first sales. Make sure your social media channels are active in your area – if you sell books, there’s no use in tweeting about cars (unless it’s about a book about them), and if you sell clothes, you shouldn’t update your Facebook feed with a post about a smart TV, for example. Keeping your tweets informative, shareable, and relevant to your niche will help you build a following that you will be able to turn into customers.

Invest in optimizing your online store so that it will be found easier on search engines – this is a topic that requires its own article, so we’ll get back to that at another time.

Developing an online store is the ultimate “be where your customers are” in 2019. Simply being there is not enough, though – you have to actively seek out your potential customers, offer them the products and services they need, and constantly stay relevant if you want to succeed.

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