As you start your journey learning how to sell products online, begin at the beginning. 50% of your success is in what you sell, and 50% is how you sell it. Selling products online is an adventure, and depending on your approach, it can be as fun and effective as everything else that you do online.
Why do you want to sell online? Are you expanding your already-successful local business? Have you always wanted to go into business for yourself? These 7 tips for how to sell products online will yield the best results.
How to Sell Products Online in 2018: 7 Tips
Decide what you want to sell.
Get a handle on your product, market, and pricing.
Lay out clear and measurable goals and connect those goals to every step of your plan.
Try new ideas as you grow.
Use the knowledge of the experts around you.
Celebrate small victories.
1. Decide what you want to sell.
It sounds obvious, but many people get so excited about the idea of selling products online that they start with a product that never had a chance. If you start with a product you believe in, you’ll be able to focus your next steps around that product. Need some ideas? Take a look at our enormous list of 105 side business ideas and these ten things to make and sell online today.
2. Get a handle on your product, market, and pricing.
As you do your research, answer these fundamental questions:
- Commoditized or niche products? Commoditized are the most popular products, the things that most people buy online. Niche products serve a specific group, or niche. Niche vendors often sell products personalized for that special group.
- Are you already an expert in a niche? If you are already part of the in-crowd of an existing market niche you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors. Nothing turns a niche buyer off faster than inauthentic marketing.
- Is there a problem you want to solve? Maybe you like to dance, but can’t find the perfect heels for a night out? You love to cook with ginger, but the right peeler has evaded you. Start with the problems you and your friends encounter every day and look for your product there.
- What are your fantasies and indulgences? Do you crave gourmet ice cream or follow celebrities on social media? Your secret indulgences might be the perfect inspiration for your product.
- What do you buy online? Your opinions and experiences are your core. Your most successful ventures should be in line with who you are and how you like to get things done. Keep a pen and paper beside you as you shop online and make notes on what you do and don’t buy online and why. Take note of your experience as you shop too, and what you respond to online.
Now, sell and promote your products. Once you know what you want to sell online, you’ll get to dig into the fun part: building your site, talking to your audience, and selling your products.
3. Stay simple.
When processes get complicated, they become less effective. As you build your sales process, website, and marketing strategy, step back regularly. Ask yourself:
- Do any of your processes feel too complicated?
- Is there a step you can remove, or is there a tool that can help you automate that step?
- Why did you create that step in the first place?
- Does your hosted website offer the flexibility to make adjustments as your business changes?
Repeat this evaluation every 3-6 months. When you are learning how to sell products online, it is easy to add little steps to your processes as you learn about your customers, business partners, and tech workarounds. Constant evaluation will ensure that your processes are effective.
4. Lay out clear and measurable goals and connect those goals to every step of your plan.
Create goals inspired by, but not directly connected to, your sales goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound. These goals might include:
- The number of industry partners that you connect to
- The number of clicks for your social media campaigns, or
- An improvement over time in the rate of online shopping cart abandonment.
Use a spreadsheet to outline your goals and consistently track your results. It can take a long time to see financial results, but if you measure your success by more than earnings you’ll have evidence of the progress you are making.
5. Try new ideas as you grow.
It can be easy to get in a rut and stick with what works the first time around. The ability to surprise and delight customers is the basis of the most successful products and marketing. Experiment with different processes and ideas to ensure that you’re building habits that will produce optimal results.
6. Use the knowledge of the experts around you.
Think about this from both an internal and external perspective and consider which conversations will be helpful from start to finish. Do you know someone who already sells online that you can talk to? You may have an aunt who has experience with how to sell products online, or a friend from your neighborhood who sells handmade magnets. Their experience can help you as you develop your battle plan and figure out how to sell products online.
Do you have a marketing guru you’re friends with? A pal in HR? Do you know lawyers, CPAs, or manufacturers? They may not be experts in your specific niche, but their knowledge is priceless. It is a great idea to sit down and address specific questions in an interview format, but the real tricks of the trade can take a bit more time to understand and put in place. Host a happy hour or afternoon barbecue with these friends and see what you can learn from informal conversations about these new areas of expertise.
After you’ve started selling online, there are also some important internal considerations that can help grow your business.
- Do you have a staff who is helping you?
- How do you keep them motivated?
- If your vendor delivers good products on time, how do you show your appreciation?
People are 16 times more likely to read a post by your employees than from your company directly, so your employees and partners in your business are some of the best resources you have for marketing your business. How will you leverage their support and enthusiasm?
7. Celebrate small victories.
It can be easy to focus on a big goal, but you can enjoy every day selling products online if you celebrate the little benchmarks. Find ways to celebrate every step as you complete it. Create rituals to honor the ups and downs of every week. Build in time to look back and say “Wow, look what I did!”