How to Sell Online: A Beginner's Guide

Do you want to make money from selling? Do you want to learn how to sell online and start your own online business? In this article, you will discover tips on how to sell online and actually make money.

Before we start, you must know the pros and cons of selling online so you can weigh them before you make an informed decision.

Pros of selling online

  • You can run your business anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. You don’t even have to close up shop while you’re on vacation. Earn from anywhere and at any time with just a few clicks.
  • It’s not too risky unlike traditional businesses. You can start selling with very little capital. You don’t need a large sum upfront such as in a traditional business that will require you to buy or lease a location.
  • Lower set up and running costs. There are no power, heating, and air conditioning bills to take care of. The money that would go into store maintenance can instead contribute to your capital.
  • Customers can view your online store any time of the day. You don’t need official store hours or have a closing time. Your store can be literally open 24/7.
  • Reduced overheads because you can operate the business on your own. There is no need to hire a store clerk, a cashier, or maintenance personnel.
  • Social sites can reach new demographics. The internet is far-reaching. Online stores have the power to connect you with the rest of the world, and you can conduct business with them as long as you are willing and able to fulfill international orders.

Cons of selling online

  • There’s a learning curve if you are new to selling online. Although there are platforms that can assist you in setting up a shop, some will require a bit of coding knowledge.
  • Building trust with your potential customers. If you are new to the game, you need to establish yourself as a reputable store that sells genuine products.
  • Delivery time and shipping cost. Unlike a physical store, an online store is bound to fulfill orders only through mail. This will add up to the cost of your products and operations.
  • There is massive competition. The internet is saturated with online stores that offer anything and everything. It would be a challenge for you to stand out from the crowd.

Now that you know the pros and cons, let us proceed on how to get started selling your products online.

1. Choose what products to sell

You might have already started with this step and have an idea of what product you will sell. Still, it is important to reiterate how important this step is. This step is the most important and hardest decision you have to make. It will determine your business’s direction, the demand for your product, sales, and marketing.  

The products that you will sell should actually sell, or you should make a profit from them. There should be a reasonable demand for it and find out if you have a lot of competition or sellers of the same product.

You can sell almost anything online. But if you want to be successful, you should consider the following.

  • Products that you are interested in and you are using
  • The most popular products in the market
  • Products that are effective and backed by market research

How to choose what to sell online

Are you still having a hard time deciding exactly what products to sell online? These tips might help you.

Choose an industry

Remember that different industries have varying profit margins. One of the primary aims of having an online business is to earn as much as possible. When choosing between industries, have your options laid out in front of you so you can see which one is more profitable.

Try to look at things from your customers’ point of view

A business’s higher purpose is to provide answers or solutions to a need or problem. When looking for what products to sell, it could help if you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and see what they could possibly need. What could make their lives easier? What products are most attractive to them? Which items have meaning and purpose?

Don’t be afraid to try something new

Sometimes you have to think outside the box in order to come up with a product selection that will suit your target market. Try experimenting with different product combinations or things that can work well together. You can also explore unconventional avenues to source niche ideas, such as group discussions and chats online.

Nail down logistics

No matter how brilliant your product ideas are and how attractive your chosen niche is, if the logistics fall short, it will all be for nothing. Logistics is crucial because the feasibility of your entire business rests on it. Having products that are overly-challenging to handle or cost too much to ship will undermine your product value.

Consider your passions

It is always a good idea to earn from your passions. If you love what you do and you believe in the products you offer, you will be more inclined to succeed in selling them. And besides, managing an online business is sometimes challenging. You need to have a source of constant inspiration to pull through the difficult times. 

2. Prepare to Launch Your Online Store

You need to know how to launch your online store successfully. This includes meeting legal requirements in your country, state, or city in setting up your business. Therefore, it is always a good idea to seek professional advice from an accountant or lawyer.  

Generally, for you to run your online business smoothly, it is helpful that you already have the following:

  • Business name
  • Registration of your business
  • License or Sales Tax ID
  • Payment method of your online store
  • Shipping options

Things you need to prepare for your business launch

Site monitoring

You need the means to keep track of your website traffic. This will include the number of visitors you regularly have and your website’s overall performance. Google Analytics is a popular means of tracking and monitoring website performances. Having metrics readily available enables you to know which strategies are working and when you need to tweak your approach.

Business newsletter

Email marketing is a powerful and virtually free means of reaching out to targeted customers at a personal level. Of course, if you have a large email list, you may want to consider employing the aid of email platforms such as Aweber or MailChimp.

Availing email services from such platforms allows you to not just reach a wide audience at an intimate level but also lets you customize your approach depending on the type of customer you have. You can automate a lot of features, but never forget to customize your newsletters according to your target audience. The best newsletter platforms can help you with all of this.

Social media

Even if you don’t plan on selling on social media, having a presence there will still be beneficial. People nowadays look to social media as a means of verifying a business’ identity. Having your own business page, even if you do not plan on conducting business transactions with it, will bolster your credibility and encourage trust and confidence from potential customers.

Website backup

Just as with any web-based business, you need to back up your website. Think of it as your very own store insurance. While online stores are safe from fires and natural calamities, unlike traditional stores, tech-related problems are just as grave. It can cost you your entire livelihood if you don’t regularly back up your site.

Payment and fulfillment

Payment options and shipping are probably the most crucial aspects of an online store. It can make or break just about any potential sale. A customer may easily back down from a purchase because of limitations to payment options or the overly-high cost of shipping. Make things as accessible as possible for your clients. You can even crunch up the values of your products to be able to afford perks such as free shipping.

Quality control

Proofread your entire site. A misspelled word or poor grammar can put off anyone. It will even make your online store look unworthy of trust. Additionally, make sure that all of your links are working and directing properly. Finally, don’t forget to include contact information, support, and social media to let them find you easily.

Launch announcement

As the big day looms ever closer, you might want to make it count. After all, you only launch once. A big press release in social media and email are the basics, but make sure to add an extra mile to your launching efforts. Offering a sitewide sale, launch coupons, or hosting a game will bring the word out that there is a new store in town.

3. Choose a Platform for Your Online Store

There are many different social media platforms to choose from. But how would you know which one is best for your business? It is crucial that you do research on the pros and cons of each platform before deciding to use it to sell your products.

Types of platforms for online stores

You actually have several options when it comes to choosing which online platform to set up shop in. Below are four of the main platforms you can choose from.

Social media sites

Social media is growing more and more relevant in today’s marketing and sales. It’s no wonder why a growing number of businesses prefer to sell through social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. 

These sites offer business solutions for online entrepreneurs, such as business pages and page data. Moreover, they are quite affordable, and you have vast control over how much you are willing to spend on marketing and advertising on social media.

For the full run-down on choosing a social media platform, see our “6 Social Media Platforms You Should Market Your Business On” article.

But in general, when looking for a social media platform, you research the following: 

  • The number of users on the platforms. More users mean more potential customers. 
  • Find out how many sellers in your niche are selling the same products as you have.
  • The platform should be stable and is going to stick around for years.
  • Check if the platform has an additional fee for sellers.
  • Check how strict the guidelines of the platform are for sellers. 

Your own e-commerce store 

Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform that allows you to build your own online store. By building your own online store, you get full control over how it looks and feels. On top of that, your store does not get jeopardized by algorithmic changes that are common in social media platforms. 

Algorithms are how social media sites decide which types of content and which pages are most relevant at the moment. These algorithms have a tendency to change, so a well-performing business on social media does not guarantee that the page remains relevant at all times.

Hosting your own store also means that you can modify your business according to what you want. You actually have the option to automate certain processes so that you have more time to focus on marketing and product sourcing.

Yet another advantage of setting up shop with an e-commerce website is that you can make your shop mobile-friendly. More and more people are shopping online through their phone nowadays; it’s just that convenient! Tapping into that type of functionality will open you up to millions more online shoppers in the world. 

Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay provide an avenue for online entrepreneurs. Selling on marketplaces such as these give you the advantage of using the platform’s popularity in order to gain your potential customer’s trust and to demonstrate a sense of credibility.

What is great about online marketplaces is that it’s not that complicated or difficult to put up a shop. All you have to do is to create an account, list the products with all the necessary specifications, specify a fulfillment method, accept payment, and get ready to ship. 

Unfortunately, these platforms are usually overly crowded. It can be quite a challenge to establish yourself and put yourself above the rest of the merchants who might be selling the same products and offering lower prices. To the visitors of Amazon or eBay, you are just yet another seller offering the same thing, and they would naturally gravitate towards the product with the lower price.

Another downside is that marketplaces usually charge merchants with transaction fees. You need to consider the presence of these fees when crunching up numbers for the pricing of your goods. 

WordPress

WordPress is not merely limited to blogging. You can actually conduct business transactions and sell with the help of its e-commerce extension called WooCommerce. Unlike e-commerce stores under platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, using WooCommerce under WordPress requires some coding skills. 

If you don’t have coding knowledge, this type of online selling platform is not generally recommended unless you are willing and able to pay someone to set up your online store for you. Although the platform does not have all the functionalities of Shopify, WordPress offers so many plugins related to online selling. 

Other Ecommerce platforms that you can use are:

There are also online courses that can help you learn the basics of setting up an online store on different platforms. Below are some of the best online learning courses.

4. Prepare Your Marketing Strategies

Now that you have a great product, all the legal requirements, and the platform for your online store, your next step is to market and advertise your products. 

This starts by creating a business plan. This will serve as your road map or blueprint to guide you on your business venture and become successful. You will have a clear picture of how your business will go and the potential roadblocks you will encounter. 

If you need a little help with your business plan, it would be best to take an online course like “How To Create A Business Plan” from Skill Success. The good thing about this online course is that it also has a number of business plan templates that you can use.

After you have established a business plan, you will have a clear direction of what marketing strategy you can use. After this stage, you have already defined your target audience and how you are going to sell your product to them effectively.

Then the next thing that you are going to work on are the components of your online store. The essential elements include:

  • High-quality product images
  • Detailed product descriptions
  • Good quality copy of your listings
  • Clean and simple website design
  • Responsiveness of your online store on mobile devices
  • Easy checkout process
  • Return policies

Online Course Recommendation

Discover how to sell products online without much startup cost and build a passive income with Learn To Sell Online And Create Passive Income online course. 

This online course is designed for those who are interested in learning the basics of selling online and making money through print-on-demand platforms and strategies to grow sales.

Recommended courses for you

Ready to start your own online business? Click here to get started.

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