In the fast and furious world of eCommerce, online stores are popping up and companies rushing to learn how to sell online-before their competitors do—here are a few tips that will get you started on the right foot as you master how to sell online.
- It’s a ‘cloud and mortar’ business – With the advent of selling online, entrepreneurs who have never operated a store front may find it difficult to think of their eCommerce site as a brick and mortar business. However, that’s what it is—in the clouds of course. Similar to a physical store front, stores selling online face the same challenges as non-virtual businesses including: inventory, cost of goods sold, employees not showing up for work, shrinking profit margins, price shoppers, trouble with suppliers, and stock rotation.
- Be aware of the hidden costs of selling online – Don’t be mislead by websites that advertise a small monthly rate for an online store. Store hosting costs tend to be the lowest of the fixed costs that you are incurred for selling online. Be sure and add costs such as: Domain Registration, SSL certification, Credit Card Processing Monthly Fees, and Gateway Charges. There is also the cost of store administration (even if it’s your personal time) for putting products online, leveraging SEO to drive traffic, and processing store orders.
- Concentrate on what you do well in your business and outsource the rest – Like any good business owner, you can’t do it all. Decide early what you are going to specialize in and get business partners who can do the rest. Since the development of creating and managing a store to sell online takes time to become proficient at–that’s a good place to begin outsourcing. Once you learn the ropes of how to sell online, then you can decide if you want to continue to outsource your store administration, or to assign staff to it.
- Get the Word Out (feet on the street) – Most business owners who sell online, often rely on Google Adwords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to gain web traffic. These take time (and money) to work. Consider supplementing your efforts with low cost marketing tools like taglines on your emails with links to store products, or offer Affiliate Marketing Programs to folks who send others to your store through their blogs, websites, or in daily conversations.
- Keep ahead of the competition – The benefit (and downside) of selling online is that everyone can see what you have. While it takes time for online shoppers to find you, your competitors are very keen to use tools like Google Alerts to track what you’re doing and jump on your good ideas, often while you’re trying to secure market share. It’s best to forge ahead and continually develop your product while keeping one eye on the competition.
- Selling Online is all about Clicks – The companies who have mastered how to sell online, understand that it’s all about the clicks and click-through rates. This holds true for online advertising, product sales, and other web-related trends. Sign up for Google Analytics (like other Google tools—it is free) and start monitoring traffic to your site. By understanding the conversation rate of sales (# sales/#visitors to your site), you can project the number of visitors that are needed to hit your targeted income for selling online.
- Excel on Customer Service – Selling online is largely impersonal—however, customers still want a personal touch. You can achieve this through ‘live chat’ software, follow-up messages to customers or the old-fashioned way of sending a real card of appreciation (aka ‘thank you note’) for their business. Find a way to differentiate your service and customers will tell others and they will return for more!
~by Victoria Mavis
Victoria Mavis is the President and CEO of HRKnowledgeBase.com, an online store for business and human resource products and services. Check out how to how to sell online through The Online Business Stores program that we offer.