It is estimated that there are between 12 million and 24 million e-commerce sites across the world, and that number continues to grow every day. In 2020 alone, over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online. The global e-commerce market is a massive one. By the end of 2022, the market is forecast to be worth $5.55 trillion. That figure is set to grow again as we move into 2023. In short, selling online is big business. And there is plenty of money to be made in the e-commerce market!
Whether you’re looking for a side hustle, or want to grow your own business, e-commerce is a great option. You can keep costs low by not having a physical store location but having a shop window in every household in the world via the computer screen. The internet is your window into the world: how will you use it?
Starting your own business is much easier than you might think. Here’s everything you need to know about how to sell online:
Five Tips for Selling Online
Despite what we just said, online selling isn’t as easy as finding a product and setting up an online shop. If it was, we’d all be millionaires! You need to find the right product and market it to attract a captive audience. You also need to consider the cost of selling fees, and platform set-up costs which will eat into your profits. Dealing with happy customers, unhappy ones that return your products, and implementing a robust refund system are all important.
But there are hints and tips that can make selling online much easier. Here are just a few:
Choose the Right Platform and Small Business IT Support
Because so many people are selling online, there are so many different ways you can choose to sell online. You can set up your own website. Sell exclusively on social media. Or you can choose an existing platform like Shopify, Esty or eBay. The right platform will depend on your product. Depending on the complexity of your set-up, you may wish to seek some IT support. But the main thing is to take the time to research the audience you want to reach, and the right place to find them. The more research you do before you set up your store, the higher your chance of success will be.
Support Your Store with Social Media
Even before the internet, there was always social selling. The Avon lady would turn up with a booklet, or a friend would invite you to a Tupperware party. Social media has become an extension of this tradition. If you want to sell online then you will need to support your store with a social media presence. You could even use your social media accounts to sell directly. There are more than 1 billion active users on Instagram alone. Harnessing even a small percentage of those users would give your store a huge audience. Engage in actual conversations with potential customers. Build trust. Create your unique voice. The more you do things the more your followers will come, and ultimately the more products your store will sell.
It doesn’t matter how great your shop is, if no one knows it’s there. This ethos applies to e-commerce just as much as to brick-and-mortar stores. For this reason, you need to advertise. Online advertising falls into two main categories: paid for advertising and free advertising. Paid for ads are similar to conventional advertising. You choose the content, and where you want your ad to appear, and you pay for the privilege. Free ads are more diverse. The options include social media advertising, SEO advertising, or traditional advertising but on free sites. The right combination for you will depend on your business. But don’t be afraid to try new things, and mix up your advertising to reach as many potential customers as possible.
Price it Right
Pricing your products can be tricky. You want to cover all of your expenses and make a tidy profit too. Price sensitivity is important because even slightly too high a price could put off potential customers. Studies show that small variations in price can raise or lower profitability by as much as 20% or 50%. Look at what other businesses are charging for comparable products. Talk to your customers. Launch and test product prices with them. Be ready for honest feedback and adjust your prices accordingly. But be careful not to price your product too low either. That could impact whether all your expenses are covered. Pricing correctly is a tightrope. But if you can balance it, your business will be driven to success!
Start Marketing Now
Finally, don’t wait until you have a product to start marketing it. Start marketing now! Create a coming soon page for your website. Build a buzz on social media. You don’t have a business without marketing, so don’t waste time. You can create interest in your product before you even launch it. Encouraging visitors to spread the word is a great way to gain free advertising: perhaps offer an exclusive discount code or another perk for early adopters.
With more than 12 million stores selling online, there is still plenty of room for you to join them! Selling online has never been easier, and the rewards have never been greater.
If we look at the UK alone, 36.3% of retail sales are e-commerce sales. At least 87% of UK internet users have made an online purchase. E-commerce is even more popular in the Asia-pacific region, where 62.6% of total worldwide e-commerce sales are made. Customers can now shop anywhere they have a mobile phone and internet access. This leads to increased impulse buys and the greater potential for you to find a niche gap in the market!