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.
- Attract customers to your store – effectively working as an electronic brochure or shop window for what you sell – and
- 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.
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