Thinking about opening a business to sell products? Wondering if you should add a selection of products to your service business? Looking for ways to improve your existing product sales? If so, you need to be aware of the unique risks and difficulties in selling a product. You can increase your chances of success by making sure you’re ready to tackle these challenges.
Upfront Costs and Pricing Difficulties
When you fill your shelves with products, you incur several upfront costs. If you’re developing your own products, you have to spend time and money on research and development. Once you have a prototype, you often need to do a bit of additional testing or market research. Finally, you have to pay for all the materials and labor related to manufacturing. Even if you aren’t developing your own product, you still have to buy the goods you want to sell. Keep all of those costs in mind as you determine the price for selling products, and don’t forget about shipping costs. If you ship products to clients, you either need to tack on extra for shipping and handling, or build those costs into your pricing model. You may need a well-thought out strategy to overcome the difficulty of customer price objections.
Getting and pricing products is just the first step — next, you must decide where and how to display the products. This decision varies based on your final goals. Imagine you’re a hairdresser, and you decide to offer a line of hair care products. You probably already have a space where you cut hair. Now, you need to invest in shelves or display cabinets and set up everything so it looks enticing to customers.
If you decide to focus on online sales, you don’t have to worry about setting up beautiful displays in a storefront. Instead, you need compelling photos of your wares and an easy-to-explore website. In both cases, it helps if you have an intuitive sense of what looks appealing.
Unfortunately, if you have customers or employees near your products, there’s always the difficulty of potential theft. To reduce the risk, you can use safeguards such as cameras or security tags to outwit shoplifters. You might also want to do background checks on your employees. In the long term, you can minimize internal theft by creating a culture you build on trust.
Selling Products Internationally
Are you planning to expand your business to an international audience? Shipping internationally gives you the chance to expand your potential client base by millions. However, it also means you need to deal with customs, duties, and the laws in other countries. If you’re wondering if the expanded client base is worth the extra effort, the answer depends on your business objectives, budget, and time.
International shipping doesn’t necessarily take up more time than domestic shipping. In most cases, domestic shippers also handle international shipments, and you can usually set up orders in the same online portal. For example, Canada Post ships packages to Canada and the rest of the world, and you can download shipping labels from the organization’s website.
International shipping, whether you’re shipping to the United States or anywhere else in the world, is generally more expensive than local shipping. For instance, as of 2019, it costs approximately $51 to ship a 20 kilogram package from Ontario to Vancouver via Canada Post. Sending the same package to the middle of the United States costs about $103, and sending it to the Bahamas costs over $751. The high cost of international shipping typically makes it impossible for business owners to offer free or low-cost shipping to international clients. However, you can certainly offer shipping anywhere in the world.
To secure cheaper shipping rates for yourself or your customers, consider signing up for a frequent buyer program. For example, Canada Post offers shipping discounts up to 34% on domestic shipping and up to 41% on international shipping for small business clients. To qualify, you must sign up for Solutions for Small Business. Private shippers tend to offer similar deals.
Filling out customs forms is the one way that international shipping can be more time consuming than domestic shipping. Luckily, however, most shippers also work hard to make this aspect of shipping easier for business owners. To that end, you can download customs forms from most shipping websites, and in many cases, you can complete these forms and submit them online.
In some cases, as your shipment moves across borders, it may be subject to unexpected fees or duties. In most cases, the shipper assesses these fees and requests them from your clients upon delivery. To safeguard your reputation, consider being as transparent as possible in regards to fees. For instance, you may want to include a simple warning with each international purchase. Something to the effect of “extra fees or duties may apply on international orders” can work perfectly.
Getting Help With Shipping Business Difficulties
If you process a large volume of orders, you might want to consider having a fulfillment service help you. Some online retail platforms, such as Amazon, offer order fulfillment services that product sellers can use. Alternatively, if you do a lot of shipping to a particular country, you may want to work with a fulfillment company based in that country. That way, you can store the inventory in a warehouse in the destination country. Then, when clients submit an order, the fulfillment centre fills it and ships it, saving you time and lowering international shipping costs.
If you hold your goods for too long, you run the risk of obsolescence. This happens when consumers lose interest in a trendy product, or when a product hits the end of its shelf life. To deal with obsolescence, simply keep an eye on product demand and expiration dates. If a product isn’t selling, you might consider a heavy markdown rather than forgoing revenue completely.
Regardless of your product niche, returns are inevitable. Before you start selling, it’s helpful to draft a return policy. In some cases, you may want to set time limits or only accept returns on unopened products. On the other hand, you may want to have a completely expansive policy where you’re willing to offer a full refund on any product at any time. Ultimately, it’s important to choose a policy that reflects your brand image and works with your bottom line.
Selling products is an entirely different business than providing services. To be successful, it’s helpful to be aware of the potential challenges and business difficulties so you can create proactive solutions. As you build a product-selling company, managing your finances carefully can help you stay on track. 4.3 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive for free.