Now is the time to sell online

Never has the ability to sell your products online been more important. 
Even when the country went into full lockdown, online stores were able to continue to trade. And, with the Covid crisis likely to continue for some time, more people are turning to the internet when they need to make a purchase. 
If you are not already set up to sell online, now really is the time to do it, and there are a number of options available depending on the size of your business and the product you are looking to sell.

Selling on Facebook

This is a great option for small businesses with a small budget just starting out selling online. It won’t cost you a penny to set up your Facebook page. That said you will need to put in the hours to make it work. 
Creating a Facebook page is pretty straight forward. Then comes the trickier task of building an audience for your brand. Once you have started to accrue followers you can then begin selling your product on relevant Facebook groups and on Marketplace
There’s also the option of the Facebook shop feature, although at the moment this only allows you to showcase your products if you want to take payment you will need to have a website to link to where customers can check out.

Selling on Marketplaces

EtsyeBayAmazon these are just some of the marketplace sites where individuals and businesses to sell their stock.
Unfortunately, they are each slightly different in their approach so if you want to master all of them, it will take some leg work.
For example, Amazon will require you to register as a seller on its site, and then has very strict guidelines on how you list your items. Poor quality listings with little information or imagery that is lacking aren’t allowed. 
eBay, Etsy and most others on the other hand allow you freedom to list your item however you like, but if your listing isn’t of great quality it won’t rank very well on the site. 
It’s important to keep your listings up to date, so best avoid signing up to every single outlet if your time is limited. 
Amazon and eBay each have some great beginners guides, with some great tips about selling online.  Don’t forget that there are tons of marketplace sites for different niches. Do some research to find the ones that fit your business best. 

Selling via your own website

Adding the capability to sell from your website can give you much more control to do things your own way. 
For ease of use Weebly is a great starter platform which allows you to begin selling quickly and painlessly. It’s designed so that it’s extremely easy for a beginner to add products and edit the site. 
If you are looking for something with a little more flexibility a WordPress site with the Woocommerce plugin may be the answer. Once installed it allows you to structure your store as you want it. Although this plugin is free it can be a little complicated to get up and running so it may be worth paying a web expert to start you off. 
Our favourite option at Small Business Geek is Shopify. Used by a number of bigger names think Kylie Jenner and Victoria Beckham – it offers packages that are affordable for smaller businesses too, and leads the way with tools and marketing apps.
You will need intermediate tech ability to set Shopify up successfully. Coding skills aren’t essential, but if you do have the knowledge you will really see the difference.
These are just a few of the e-commerce platforms out of the hundreds that are available. For a comparison of some of the top options take a look at this guide from Merchant Machine has a comprehensive list.

Although selling via your own website has a lot of benefits, it’s worth considering the pitfalls too. Selling through marketplaces may not offer you as much flexibility but they will steer you in the right direction in areas such as refund policies and how to list your products, while also providing potential customers. If you use your own website to sell you have to work this out yourself. 

Taking payment

There are many different platforms available to help you take payment from your customers. As this is the all-important part of the transaction for you as a business, take time to choose the right one. Bear in mind that all of them will charge transaction fees, so you need to factor this into the price you charge for your product. Some of our favourites are:

  • PayPal  Probably the best-known option which already has the trust of many shoppers. This will be your easiest option if selling on Facebook and it’s simple to use to send your customer an invoice.  
  • Stripe If you are selling through your own website this is a great option to process card payments at your checkout. You can also use it to send invoices and payment links. 
  • Izettle – Best known for its card reader allowing you to take payments when you are out and about. If you sell face to face at markets, craft fayres or other trade events, this is the option for you. You can also invoice customers through the app. 

Don’t forget…

If you are selling online you need to offer very clear information to customers. Here are some of the first things you need to consider on your e-commerce journey: 

  • Policies on details such as refunds and postage should be straight talking. Potential customers do read these and clear well written policies can be the difference between making a sale and not. 
  • Good quality photographs including close-ups will allow your customer to be clear about what they are purchasing 
  • Don’t scrimp on detail in your description. Offer plenty of information on areas such as sizing, what the product is made of and so on. Think about what you would want to know about a product if you were buying it, and fill in the gaps that a customer might miss from not being able to hold the product in their hands. Good descriptions of when you might use the product, what it does and so on also help with search results. 
  • Be customer focused. In your general marketing you may talk about how you have handcrafted a product, or the work you and your team have done, but once the customer gets to the point where they are thinking about buying it should be all about them and the information they need to commit to buy.   
  • Make sure you are covering the costs of selling online within your prices 
  • Think about how you will get customers to find your products. Having an online presence is the first step getting people to buy from you is a whole other story! 
  • Spend time thinking how to make sure your business looks professional and trustworthy online 
  • Start small and learn as you go. 

Need support setting up an e-commerce presence for your business? Small Business Geek can help! Get in touch today.

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