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The internet is full of opportunities for solopreneurs and millennials selling products online. But what about the small business owners? Small businesses account for 44% of the US economy but only a small portion are generating revenue online. Most common small businesses focus on service – bookkeeping, car repair, web design, computer repair, or restaurants. If you run a small business, finding products to sell online is a way to expand your business without sacrificing the comfort and familiarity of your current day to day.

Selling Products Online to Expand Your Small Business

1.     Benefits of Selling Products Where Your Customers Are

2.     Physical Products to Sell Online

3.     How it’s Made

4.     The Dollars and Sense of Selling Physical Products Online

5.     Promoting and Selling Products

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With a local services focus, it can be hard for small business owners to figure out how to organically expand their business. Many brick and mortar stores already offer physical products on-site. Whether it’s meditation candles at a yoga studio, high-quality shampoo at the salon, or custom sauces at your favorite BBQ, physical products abound.

If you already have the love of your local community, chances are that you can win the affection of a wider online audience or a customer on the other side of the world.

Benefits of Selling Products Where Your Customers Are

Selling products online means a chance to expand your network. It’s an opening to share the message of your small business and the quality of what you have to offer. Selling online is also an opportunity to test new products and communication with speed and precision.

Whether you’re starting small or reaching for the stars, selling physical products online is a great move for any small or microbusiness looking to grow.

Harnessing the power of the internet to increase your profits is the simplest and most effective way to grow your business. It gives you the potential to reach millions with your brand and expertise.

Selling products online can help you deepen your relationship with your current customers while opening the door to thousands of new buyers.

The best thing about selling products online is that it makes the buying experience easier for your customers. Your loyal following is getting used to the convenience of buying online. So, even if your product is their favorite, they might not be willing to drive across town for it on a rainy Tuesday night.

By offering physical products online you can develop a stronger relationship with your customers. Selling online also gives your buyers an easy way to advocate for your business.

candle in a room of fun stuff illustrates an article about products to sell online for Selz the ecommerce platform for growing businesses

One of the most common concerns for small business owners is a lack of time. You may already be thinking about expanding into sales of physical products online, but the idea of building a website and collecting Ecommerce payments is daunting. Marketplace sites bring their own challenges.

An Ecommerce platform designed for growing business like Selz makes creating your own online store and collecting secure payments simple. The practical features of this platform make it easy to align your new venture with your current business processes and to scale them over time.

Physical Products to Sell Online

You may be hesitant about selling products online because you’re not sure what to sell. Products to sell online should fit with your current small business offerings. They should also offer additional value or convenience to your customers.

For example, if you’re a small business owner who wants to expand your business in a creative way, check out these guides for selling physical products including:

Man checks oil in the car to illustrat ideas about products to sell online to expand a typical small business

Are you looking for products to sell online that relate directly to your business, but don’t think of yourself as the creative type? Physical product ideas for the local car repair shop could include branded water bottles, keychains, or tool sets. A bookkeeper could sell t-shirts in anticipation of tax day or calendars with useful financial tips.

Think about what might be useful to you or ask your customers for their opinion. Put a suggestion box in your store to get ideas about physical products and other upsell offers that can boost your bottom line.

Read: How to Sell Online: Advice From 7 Entrepreneurs

How It’s Made

The way you make or acquire the products you sell will also depend on your desire to be creative.

Some small business owners are dying to try something new. They want the fun and adventure of developing a physical product, like hand printed tote bags or one-of-a-kind candles. Other businesses are looking for a process that is more efficient and streamlined.

As you decide what products to sell online, do your homework on manufacturing and scaling options. Where your physical products are coming from will also affect how much you’ll need available. For example, if you make custom hair ribbons and your main supplier is in China, it will take longer than it will if you’re getting ribbons from the store down the street.

Man packaging boxes illustrates an article about products to sell online to expand a small business from Selz the ecommerce platform for growing businesses

It is often cheaper to order in bulk, but bulk orders mean you’ll need a space to store your extra inventory. If your new physical product starts selling like crazy, you’ll want to make sure that your supply can meet the demand for your physical products.

Find the right vendors for the supplies you will need to create your products, and how the cost of these supplies may spike or dip over time.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping with AliExpress

Some people selling physical products online use drop shipping. Drop shipping can be an effective way to offer a diverse range of products online, and it can also cut your starting budget and physical inventory.

Drop shipping requires as much research as any other manufacturing venture, so as you embark on this process, get into the details. Be sure to order samples so that you know the quality of your products meets the high expectations of your customers.

The Dollars and Sense of Selling Physical Products Online

Shipping and returns are also important to research before you start to sell products online. Both are essential to customer service, and to your bottom line.

Many small business owners are hesitant to expand for financial reasons. An exciting part of selling products online is that you can make a big impact with small inexpensive decisions. You are also able to quickly see the results of those decisions.

It’s a good idea to start small and then expand based on early feedback.

Read: How to Optimize Your Small Business Budget

Get a solid budget in place to measure your expenses and growth. At the same time, make sure you have a clear understanding of the regulations related to the physical products you plan to sell. Spend some time reading up on these topics online before you get intimidated by the cost.

Selling physical products online doesn’t have to be a big investment up front, but this investment of your time can mean exponentially higher sales later.

Selling physical products online is all about balancing your customers’ needs with your own expectations.

bags full of merchandise illustrates an article about expanding small business with physical products to sell online

Promoting and Selling Products

The last important factor that you’ll need to consider as you start selling physical products online is marketing. Effectively promoting your products online is serious work with endless benefits. In addition to your tried and true local advertising efforts, take advantage of the Ecommerce world’s passion for content.

Take the opportunity to educate your customers on the finer points of your industry in a blog, then add a store to your blog for immediate sales. Increase your channels for customer feedback with social media. Tie every new digital marketing channel back to your new Ecommerce website.

SEO is Essential for Selling Physical Products

SEO (search engine optimization) is another buzzword you’ll want to get familiar with. What is SEO? It’s a tool that, when used effectively, will increase the chances of someone finding your physical products when searching online.

Your Ecommerce platform should have an SEO tool to help you maximize the searchability of your unique products. Great writing and an understanding of keywords are also helpful with SEO.

There are more customers online, but there is also more competition. Find ways to differentiate your brand and your new physical product. Start with one physical product to build your message, then expand once you have a winning combination of marketing, customer feedback, and sales.

Use the speed and data analytics of the online world to refine your physical products and the reach of your small business.

Choosing physical products to sell online is a dynamic opportunity to grow your small business.

Want to sell your first physical product today? Try a free 14-day trial with the Ecommerce platform for growing businesses, Selz.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana Rumberger

Jana is Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is an active visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.