Getting online, the novice guide

Getting online, the novice guide

Many independent retailers have aspirations to sell online, but underestimate the level of work or expertise required to have a successful online store.

A website can work for you in two ways.  

  1. Attract customers to your store – effectively working as an electronic brochure or shop window for what you sell – and 
  2. Trading as a second branch or online store for you.

If you are new to online selling, I would recommend dipping your toe in the water through third party sellers like Amazon, Play.Com  or eBay.  There are many more, these are some of the biggest.  You will pay a commission or fee to sell in these market places, but they have customers on tap – so you won’t spend money trying to attract customers to your store – whilst you find your feet. 

If by selling through these third party sites you recognise that there is both a market for your products online and you have the necessary infrastructure to pick, pack and delivery goods efficiently to customers – they you can start to explore opening your own web store.  Remember the number of websites runs into the hundreds of millions – so consider realistically why and how someone will find you.  Don’t underestimate the level of work, effort and skill required to make this a success.

When we talk about building a presence online remember to invest in a Facebook business page.  With over 1.3 billion active users worldwide, as of today, this is a free connection to a large percentage of the web savvy customer. The reason I like to encourage retailers to get on Facebook (if 1.3 billion potential customers is not enough of a reason) is that Facebook business pages neither require web design skills, or particular marketing skills – as the dialogue with your Facebook fans (now called likes) should be conversational – as if they were in your store.

Take a look at our Facebook page for examples of what we do.

Update March 2014

Since writing this article, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest – to name but a few, have gathered ground on Facebook, although Facebook remains the biggest social media channel by far.  Facebook have moved towards a paid model for businesses to engage new followers/likes/fans although engaged fans will still see your posts for free.

We have a great guide on Social Media tips, tricks and tools to help you make the most of your social media channel for free.

For more great advice, sign up to our tips and tricks newsletter top right of the page.


Written by

Corin Birchall is a Retail Sales & Marketing Consultant and founder of “Kerching Retail - helping to make your till ring”. His consultancy works throughout the UK and Europe. Corin is an active writer, coach and public speaker, helping to develop and grow a wide range of businesses & business leaders from Leisure and Retail sectors

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