Selling your products online means more than just building a website that can process credit cards. Any established e-commerce business knows just how crucial it is to not just establish a marketing strategy, but build an entire framework designed to optimize your company for your audience.
The happier your audience is with their experience, the more likely they’ll be to come back for more. Building a consistently successful business, as a result, is only possible if you know how to set up your organization to sell your products online. Here are a few tips that can help you get started.
Determine Your Market Niche
If you’re reading this article, you probably already have developed a product you’re poised to sell online. But your job is far from done. Now, you need to find a niche for the product that strikes the balance between an eager audience and a relative lack of competition.
Ideally, your product solves a real need. If you can promote that solution rather than having to manufacture a need, your chances of attracting visitors to your website and customers to your business increase drastically.
Conduct market research, and survey current customers (if you have them) about the product. Based on their feedback, find your niche, make yourself comfortable, and prioritize it as closely as possible. The more focused your efforts, the more likely you’ll be to succeed.
Build a Digital Framework
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to build a digital framework that supports both the audience within this group and potential demand. Naturally, that includes building a website where you can sell your products. But your efforts to establish this framework should go beyond the website.
For starters, you need to find an effective solution that helps you manage your orders and establishes a customer database. Solutions like Magento, for example, can help – but other options exist as well.
Next, consider the payment structure through which your revenue will flow into your business. If you sell your products online, you will probably need to have a secure solution to accept all major credit cards. But especially if you’re planning on going global, you should also think about alternative payment methods such as PayPal or international options such as AliPay.
Make no mistake: your framework needs to be in place before you even start promoting your product. By the time your audience reaches your website, they should find a flawless experience waiting for them. The earlier you plan this part, the better.
Establish a Promotional Strategy
Once the framework is in place, it’s time to start working on your creative promotional strategy to make help your audience find your product and begin to consider becoming customers. As we’ve established on this blog in the past, a strategic approach to marketing is absolutely crucial, and the same holds true for e-commerce.
Start with an in-depth audience analysis. What demographics and interests do your ideal customers share? Do they tend to live in common geographical areas, or are they grouped together through other distinguishing characteristics? The more you know about your audience, the more focused your strategy to reach and convince them about your product’s value can be.
Next, based on your audience, begin to prioritize the marketing channels through which you’re trying to reach them. If you sell your products online, search engine optimization (SEO) should be a key channel. Optimizing your website to be found easily on relevant searches through Google or Bing will play a key role in helping your brand and product insert themselves into the conversation as potential customers search for a product like yours.
Of course, simply focusing on SEO is not enough. Social media is another option full of potential, thanks to in-depth targeting options that help you reach the exact audience that could be interested in your products. In addition, paid search marketing may be a great way to supplement your organic SEO efforts.
Regardless of your promotional messaging, always make sure that you track your success. E-commerce is among the most measurable industries online, allowing business to track exactly how many people become customers as a result of a Google or Facebook ad. Take advantage of that possibility to make sure that every dollar you spend on marketing creates actual, positive return.
Account for Roadblocks
As successful as selling your product online can be, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Perhaps chief among them is a common problem that every e-commerce firm has experienced: website downtime.
Whether because of server maintenance or failure, all websites experience the occasional time off the grid. While it’s an inconvenience for any business, it can actually harm your revenue stream if this is where you sell your products.
The best solution, of course, is to account for it ahead of time. That means finding a reliable web server that can minimize down times, in addition to coming up with a contingency during the times it does happen. Redirecting your web visitors to Facebook, for example, can keep them engaged while you work on getting your website back online.
In addition, another major roadblock most e-commerce business face is shopping card abandonment. If you’re new in the industry, you might not believe it, but almost 70% of potential customers actually leave items in their online cart without ever checking them out. Coming up with a strategy to capture and convert these customers is a crucial part of e-commerce success.
You might want to modify your shopping cart to allow your users to save products for later. Or you can build a retargeting strategy that uses online ads to remind users of the items left in their cart after they leave your website. Either way, if you want to successfully sell your products online, accounting for (and improving) shopping cart abandonment should be a core part of your strategy.
Establish Effective Delivery Methods
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance (and power) of finding the right shipping solution. Even if you do everything above correct, you will still end up with unhappy customers if you can’t deliver their product for a relatively low price and on time.
Within the United States, consider your options between the US Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx. If you go international, additional options such as DHL should also be considered. Each offers businesses the ability to ship relatively easily, but has slightly different prices (and delivery methods) you should keep in mind.
In addition, always account for your customers’ need for information. That should start even before the sale, where you should be upfront about the estimated cost and length of shipping the product. Then, once the purchase is complete, provide a tracking number that can help your customers keep up-to-date about the product’s journey to their address.
Selling your product online is far more complex than simply building a website and hoping that your customers come. Fortunately, with a strategic approach, you can make sure that the process is not doomed for failure, but poised to success and on its way to a successful revenue stream for your business.
It starts with determining your market niche. But building a digital framework, along with developing a marketing strategy, accounting for roadblocks, and establishing the delivery method, should all be part of the equation. Keep these variables in mind, and you’ll be well on your way toward successfully selling one or all of your products online.