Checklist to Selling Online
1) Decide on what to sell
2) Research competition and niche
3) Register business name
4) Purchase domain URL
5) Develop website user/mobile friendly templates
6) Include About, Store information, contact details
7) Add products and payment options to site
8) Focus on SEO
9) Organize shipping
10) Focus on marketing
1. Decide on What to Sell
Firstly, when starting with how to selling something online, you need to decide what it is you want to sell for your online business. And you want to sell online pretty fast. If you’ve got no idea what you want to sell then you’ll suffer a very poor marketing and business strategy pretty soon down the line; unless of course you plan to sell everything. You certainly want a good idea of what you plan to focus on.
Start by brainstorming various product ideas. Can you provide a service rather than a product? What is your hobby? Can your hobby create cash? Work with this.
If you begin with getting ideas down onto paper, and working up your creative mindset then you’ll be one-step closer to building your first store and selling online.
2. Research Competition and Niche - Web Competitor Analysis
Researching your competition by performing a web competitor analysis can help you understand whether or not the area you want to focus on is heavily saturated. A competitor analysis focuses on analysing your competitor’s social media efforts, their marketing strategy, website design, SEO and more. This can help you find where you may need to work on to be better than them.
Finding a niche is fantastic, however saying that, you don’t want to be going into a niche in which nobody is interested in at all, otherwise you’re not going to make any money. Instead, find a problem and provide the cure.
3. Register Business Name
One of the common questions you may have would be 'where do I register a business online?' and this is because if you want to make money from selling goods or services you’re going to need to register your business. The reason for this is to ensure you’re a legal business, pay the right VAT and taxes, attracts broader range of clients & customers due to trust, and ensures protection to your business in the case of lawsuits.
Whilst registering your business and its name you of course want to make sure your chosen business name is not already taken, otherwise you may need to change this.
Do a simple search on Google for this information.
Head over to Companies House when you are ready to register your business
4. Purchase URL domain name
You’ve found out your business name is available and not being used by anyone else, however, have you checked and purchased your website domain name?
You can use the likes of 123-reg.co.uk, GoDaddy.com, 1and1.co.uk and more as the best places to buy a website domain from, and as little as £0.99 a year with cheap website hosting in the UK.
Your domain name should be memorable and not too long. This should also be at least relatable to your business, unless of course you’ve got the marketing budget to have something very unique.
The domain name should identify your business, be ideally no more than 20 or so characters and be easy to spell.
5. Develop a user/mobile friendly website
Ensuring your website is user and mobile friendly is the difference between retaining users on your site and selling products, compared to not retaining users and selling products. If your website is not mobile friendly and fast, then you’ll most likely discover very high bounce rates, and low user retention. Why would anyone want to stick on your site if it doesn’t load within under 2 seconds?
Your site also needs to be easily navigational; otherwise users will end up getting lost on your site. With this in mind, make sure users are able to find what they’re looking for within under 3 clicks, and it’s vital they aren’t taken off site for to read content or perform a particular action. Site speed and mobile responsiveness is also beneficial to your SEO, and are Google’s ranking factors.
6. Include About, Store information, contact details
Users heading to your site would like to be given as much information about your business as possible. This means including your about page to allow them to understand your history, its services and more to help build trust.
Store information such as closing and opening times, contact details like phone and email also allow users to have somewhere to go to if they need further help – this can also be the basis of generating further conversions on your site.
7. Add products and payment options to site
Whether you’re selling products or services on your site you’re going to need to put this across in a compelling way. Users like stories, and not in the literal kind like a book, but in the sense of beautiful imagery and appealing descriptions and videos that’ll encourage them to place that product into their basket.
Focus here on using descriptions that pick up on the emotional aspect of the user, and use that to your advantage.
You’ve probably heard of the saying “they don’t know what they don’t know”, and this is exactly the reason why you should be giving users what they want even though they don’t know this is what they want or need to make a purchasing decision. Include product features, colours available, size, materials used, price, payment in different currencies, different payment options, shipping and delivery time, and most importantly, get some product reviews in there.
8. Focus on SEO
This section is something you should always be focusing on throughout the first build of your site, right through to adding products and blog pages.
You want to sell your products across search engines to the correct audience, and by doing this, and increasing traffic you need to focus on SEO.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the means of getting your product pages and website shown organically in Google for various user searched keywords.
Include the keywords of the products in the description at least two times, as well as in the meta-tags, header tags, page titles, URLs, and even in the image ALT TAG.
Ensuring the descriptions meta-tags are kept to a 160-character limit so Google is able to show the summary to a user.
9. Organize shipping & Returns
Users will always need a shipping option, and whilst it may seem more costly to include more than one shipping solution this can easily put customers off and shop elsewhere. Why would they purchase from your site if they can find the product elsewhere that is cheaper with free shipping?
Research has shown that shipping and delivery fees are a number one factor for shopping cart abandonment.
Here are some common shipping options.
Free Shipping - As a way to get customers attention, and to retain them on your site, you could offer up free shipping as an alternative, however this can at times be bad for business because it can cut into your profits. That’s why where possible include the shipping and delivery in your product cost.
Minimum Order and Spend – Another way to offer up free shipping is to include a minimum order or spend on your site. This will increase average order as well as your profits.
Real-time Shipping Quotes – instead of offering free shipping you can include plugins and add-ons that show in real time shipping quotes that you would get yourself, therefore allowing the customers to choose the best option for themselves.
Flat Rate Shipping Fees – Another common method is to figure out the average cost of shipping a product and apply this to all of your products.
Download our free eBooks and guides on Shipping Best Practices, Launching an eCommerce Website, and Shopping Cart Solutions on our site at The Wholesale Community.
Many of the shipping providers will also have plenty of returns policies included, so it’s best to take into account that when setting up your own returns policy on your site.
10. Focus on marketing
Marketing will include the likes of utilising social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram to get your message and products out to a wider audience. Get involved with your customers, promote content or products by paying for it, and promote events, and post photos and videos. This all helps to drive traffic, a fan base and customer engagement.
Whilst you can use social media as a sales channel, try not to focus so much on making sales all the time. Social media is uses to build communities and relationships, so treat it like that. Build customer loyalty, reply to comments whether positive or negative.
Get some campaigns up on Google AdWords to target even wider and or specific audiences by paying for clicks to your site.
Look at building a newsletter database and capture emails/ leads to add to that database to market to down the line.
In order to keep track of your marketing strategy it’s best to get Google Analytics and Google Search Console installed onto your website. From here you’ll be given tons of data on your users, such as age range, demographic, preferences and more.
When you’re thinking of selling online there are plenty of other factors to cover such as insurance, shipping regulations and other travelling documents. However, with the basics of getting started with selling online using our handy guide, and other guides on The Wholesale Community you’ll build yourself an important stepping-stone to selling online.
For more guides and eBooks head to our sister site www.thewholesalecommunity.com
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