As many large retail outlets are learning, brick and mortar locations can be especially tricky these days. Not only are there the costs of maintaining, staffing and upgrading a facility, the company also has to spend a considerable amount of money informing customers of each location. A small business that has found success in a niche market might be able to sustain the costs of one location, but the jump to a bigger or additional facility can be cost-prohibitive.
One way entrepreneurs can increase sales without expanding facilities is to strengthen their online sales presence. Here are a few hints to help your small business make money selling products online:
• Be selective: Many entrepreneurs get overwhelmed by the internet’s infinite possibilities and start trying to sell all products to all people. They end up being frustrated because nobody is buying anything, or because they can’t keep up with the production and inventory demands associated with this approach. Carefully consider the products you have available, look at your best sellers, and focus on bringing them to market first. Add supporting products as your business grows.
• Your website: The first step is to look at your own website and make sure it is capable of supporting online sales. Does it have good descriptions and photos of your products, videos of them in use, and an easy way to buy? If not, you may need to consider adding an e-commerce platform to support your efforts. If you collect any customer data, you’ll want to purchase a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate. This encrypts the parts of your website that collect personal information, like credit card and customer form details. You’ll also need to build your marketing strategy to establish your brand name and drive prospective customers to your site.
• External websites: Another way to go is to look at outside websites that are already strong in product sales, and find out how to move your product through them. You are probably aware of sites like Etsy, eBay and Amazon where you can sell your products online in an environment that appeals to a wide audience. You pay a little bit for promoting your product through them, and it doesn’t build your brand, but the audience is very large and the sales potential is huge.
• Know when it’s time to move on: Sometimes a product has a great run, and then sales start to slump. Know when something has run its course and when it is time to move on to pushing the next item in your product line-up.
You can also use social media marketing as a stand-alone sales strategy or as an adjunct to your e-commerce platform. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other outlets can be the perfect way to connect with your target audience. Whatever way you choose to go, the earlier you implement an online sales plan, the better your returns will be.