Maximise your sales this year by starting to sell online. We’ll talk you through the options when it comes to entering the world of ecommerce.
If you’ve decided to start selling your products or services online, you’ll need to decide how to do it. The first question is whether to trade through an online marketplace, such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy, or to set up your own ecommerce site (with or without a template).
Sell through an online marketplace
This is the easiest option in terms of getting started, but there are drawbacks too. You’ll be operating under their brand name rather than your own, which can give you access to a large customer base, but it also means you’ll have very little control over how your page looks. Fees can soon add up, eating away at your profits, so make sure you do your research before signing up.
Always choose the marketplace that suits your product. Handcrafted products do well through Etsy, personalised items sell well through Not On The High Street and eBay’s the go-to site for collectables. Amazon might seem like an obvious choice if you’re selling books, but what are your chances of competing with their own prices? However, if you have the right product you could shift some serious stock here. It’s even possible to get your orders packed and posted for you, if you sign up to Amazon Fulfilment.
Use an all-inclusive website builder
Creating an ecommerce site sounds daunting to some, but website builders make it a fairly painless process. As you’d expect, prices and options vary, but the likes of GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly and Wix offer all-inclusive options with:
- a database of products
- shopping cart
- checkout page
- payment processor
- a database of orders
in other words, everything you need to start selling online. With these providers you could be making your first sale within a matter of hours. There are plenty of opportunities to customise your site, but limits too. You won’t have 100% control of how it looks and works.
Choose an ecommerce specialist
Dedicated ecommerce providers such as Shopify include more sophisticated options, above and beyond the core features listed above. This means you have the potential to create a beautiful, brilliantly functioning site, but it also means a lot more effort. Choose a platform that integrates with your online accounting software (Shopify integrates with QuickBooks) and has features such as in-built analytics to help you analyse your performance in online searches. When it comes to your domain name these platforms offer custom options or often allow you to transfer one that you already own.
Do it yourself
Building your own ecommerce website from scratch means total control over design and functionality. It also probably means hiring coders, designers and content writers to get you up and running. Securing the right URL is the starting point – platform providers can do that for you, but if you’re launching your business as well as your website, now’s the time to do some research. A simple, original name can spell success for a website. This option definitely offers the most freedom, but also the biggest commitment in terms of time and initial outlay.
Whatever route you choose to trading online, remember to let your customers (and potential customers) know. Shout about your new site on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and make sure it appears on searches by checking out keywords (try SEMrush) or paid advertising (pay per click) through Google AdWords.
Search Engine Optimisation – Think of this as your ‘free’ traffic. SEO, or organic traffic is referrals from search engines that you have not paid for. There are many resources to discover more about SEO such as Moz and Search Engine Land. The key to good SEO is to ensure your site has the technical elements correct before moving towards trying to get good links to your site. Be wary of buying links as Google has done crackdowns on these before. Instead, create great content which people are willing to share and link back to your website as a source.
Paid Search – In the search results on Google or Bing, you will notice the top results have a small ‘Ad’ icon next to them. This is because companies have paid to appear there via a bidding system. However, it’s not just the highest bid that wins, as search engines have a ‘quality score’ you need to adhere to, that ensures your advert and landing page is relevant to the search query a user has entered.
Paid Social – A growing area is placing adverts via the likes of Facebook or Instagram. The benefit of these ads is the ability to reach a large audience quickly and you can also target people based on demographics such as age and location. On the downside, your ads are appearing when people are not necessarily in the mind-set to buy, so your ad really needs to grab attention.