The great thing about starting a business selling products this day and age is that you don’t need a retail shop or brick and mortar location to begin selling them. Digital platforms like eCommerce websites have made it possible for individuals to sell physical items virtually to people all over the world. If you’re going to be successful in selling merchandise online, however, there are a few things you’ll need to get started.
A Solid eCommerce Site
The first thing you’ll need to be successful in selling things online is a solid eCommerce website. Your online store must be designed in a manner that makes it easy for your target audience to locate, identify, and use. You can create your own website or, if you’re just getting your feet wet, you can begin by selling products through already established online marketplaces like Ebay or Etsy.
Shipping and Delivery Process
Once those orders start coming in, you need to have a clear understanding of how you’ll get the products to your customers. While you could essentially utilize the United States Postal Service, if you begin selling in large quantities, this method of shipping and delivery may become too expensive for you and/or the customers. For this reason, you may want to do comparative research on shipping services like FedEx, UPS, Amazon, and more.
Waiting for customer checks to arrive in the mail would be time-consuming and only having one or two methods of payment can be frustrating and limit your potential sales. You’ll need to look into payment process servers to determine which platforms are most affordable for you and convenient for your customers. The right payment options enhance your target client’s online experience, reduce cashflow problems, and increases your potential for sales. It is ideal to do some research on service providers like BlueSnap to see who has the best services to meet the needs of your ideal clients/customers.
You never know when your customers may be having a technical issue, questions, concerns, or complaints they need to communicate to you. If you’re going to be successful in selling merchandise online, you’re going to need to have a dedicated customer service process. This is a method(s) of contact your customers can use to reach you or a representative of your organization to get help that cannot be found online. This might be an 800 number where you have dedicated customer service reps ready to answer questions, an online chat, or a dedicated email in which responses are provided within a few business days. The quicker the response time, the better the customer experience, so keep this in mind as you determine which customer service option is best suited for your online store.
Your success in selling merchandise online won’t be there for long if you’re not doing your part to protect customer information. From email addresses and phone numbers to credit card and banking information, customers are often required to plug in a lot of information to complete an internet transaction. When doing so, they need to find comfort in knowing that their information won’t be stolen or sold to the highest bidder.
There are a number of ways to secure consumer data like limiting access to personal information, using encryption and authentification processes, educate and train employees on how to utilize software while securing private information, and implementing privacy policies and practices. In doing so you cultivate a trusting relationship with online users and protect yourself from potential legal consequences down the road.
Selling physical merchandise online is a convenient and affordable way to start a business for those who may not have otherwise have had the capital to manage a brick and mortar location. It can be operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it requires minimal overhead, and you can reach a broader audience, and, therefore, have the potential to turn a decent profit. Beyond having great products to sell, however, one must make sure they’ve incorporated all of the above-mentioned elements into their business plan to be a true success.