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Here at Selz, our job is to make the process of selling products online simple and powerful; from starting a new store to optimizing, growing, and diversifying over time.
We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and we’ve put together a recipe for doing it successfully.
Selz is built to make ecommerce for growing businesses and we’re excited to share our five secrets for successfully selling products online.
5 Secrets to Selling Products Online
1. Work works
2. Choose the right niche
3. Make the checkout process simple
4. Offer great customer service
5. Promote your store
Secret 1: Work works
Selling products online is unique because of the massive range of customers you can reach. In some ways, this evens the playing field, but remember, the millions of potential customers you can reach also have possibly thousands of competitor websites fighting for their attention.
First, you have to drive traffic to your site, then deliver great service and great products. The good news is, your overhead cost selling products online is significantly lower than opening a physical store.
Secret #1 is simple: work works. Things will probably move slowly as you are first getting started, but the more time and effort you put into creating and promoting your online store, the more sales you will see. Keep in mind that you will need to build multiple channels for marketing your products. Social media, content, SEO, and paid advertising all take time, tweaking, and a little bit of work every day.
Don’t worry if this sounds overwhelming- we’ll get into helpful resources for these approaches later in the post. Know that you will need to gradually invest energy into your store to grow your customer base and get to the point where you are mostly focused on upkeep.
Secret 2: Choose the right niche
The first question most of us ask when starting a new business is what to sell. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.
That being said, considering the niche market you want to target is vital to the success of your business. Smaller niches will have less competition, giving you a better chance of connecting with potential buyers. On the other hand, your pool of customers will be smaller. Spend some time thinking about your niche and balancing the level of competition with the size of the market.
Think about the role location plays in selling products online. You will need to include the costs and logistics of delivery in your planning. Keep in mind that digital products like software, music, and ebooks can be sold internationally and delivered instantly, and thus have a slightly different cost structure.
Secret 3: Make it easy for the buyer to purchase
Visitors to your website or blog tend to have a short attention span, so you generally have about 10 seconds to grab their attention when they first land on your page. Don’t put obstacles in their way or make them overthink. Many visitors will leave your site the moment they hit a snag.
Three golden rules are:
- Don’t force visitors to register when they first visit your website
- Don’t make the navigation on your website or blog complicated to use. Put the navigation at the top of the page and keep it consistent.
- Don’t make buying process long and don’t try to collect a lot of information from buyers. The more steps and information requested, the greater the friction, and the more sales you will lose as buyers abandon their purchase.
A lot of ecommerce software isn’t easy to use from a buyer’s perspective, forcing them to pause and fight their way through to the eventual purchase. Hint: try buying your product as a prospective buyer would. Can you do it quickly and easily without too much thought?
Secret 4: Offer great customer service
When consumers consider purchasing from a website, they are looking for reassurance before they buy. Help them shop with confidence.
Fact: News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. (Source)
One technique for selling, regardless of whether the business is online or brick-and-mortar is to offer a guarantee that if the customer is not satisfied, you will refund them with no questions asked.
Another is to show that your site is secure and verified by trusted third parties like Symantec or McAfee. If you are planning on handling credit card information, your website or blog will need to be on a secure server and PCI compliant. This takes a lot of work, time, and investment. A better alternative would be to build your store via an ecommerce platform. Selz securely handles the credit card payments for you without requiring you do anything to your blog or website.
Secret 5: Promote your store
Having a great website or blog alone is not enough to bring in traffic and sales. You need to attract people to your store and help them take the step of making a purchase.
Put yourself in your prospective buyer’s shoes. What will they do? Most likely…
- Search on Google for something they are looking for.
- Ask for advice on a forum or from other people on social networks like Twitter or Facebook
- Seek recommendations or reviews from other websites or social media
You will need to invest a considerable amount of time and energy each week to promote yourself. Try writing relevant articles or blog posts on your site, or finding guest posting opportunities on other websites that your prospective customers will visit. Get other people to review your products on their website.
Focus on getting prospective customers to visit your blog or website. Use Google Analytics to see which sources bring the most prospective customers and which convert best to sales.
The techniques to help your website appear higher in search results are called Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO for short. This process has spawned a whole industry and is the subject of a separate post. You can read Matt McGee’s overview of the benefits of content marketing and SEO in business blogging here.
You can also spend money advertising your website on search engines or other websites – this is called Search Engine Marketing (SEM for short) or Pay Per Click (PPC). The two big advertising networks are Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Promoting your Online Store for more detailed guidelines on social media, email marketing, paid ads, and more.
Repeat business is another vital aspect of building a successful online store. Existing customers are your most profitable. Encourage your customers to regularly visit your site by updating your content regularly, building an email list and consistently sending out relevant information, and freshening up the areas of your site that you feel are underperforming (you can see this using Google Analytics).
Encourage your customers to share a link or two on their social media accounts. Remember, you’re not just asking them to make a purchase, you’re asking them to share your online store with their network – personal recommendations and endorsements can be extremely valuable and will convert well as a source of new customers.
Our final piece of advice is to be patient. It takes a lot of time and effort to build up an audience and to build up a business. But don’t give up. It is challenging but rewarding, and you will get back what you put in.
Sign up for Selz for free now to see how simple and powerful it is to sell online from your blog or website.
This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.