Branching out and selling products online can do wonders for your small business. However, there are some factors that you should consider before diving into the online marketplace.
By implementing the following four e-commerce tips, you'll start your online business on the right track.
1. Research Your Online Competitors
One of the most important e-commerce tips is to research your online competition. The competitive landscape will tell you about things like pricing structures, shipping options and the availability of a particular product. You can also visit your competitors' social media pages or online reviews to ascertain if they have a robust following. The results may indicate whether there's a market for your product or service.
More importantly, however, by understanding your competition, you'll be able to gauge your unique selling proposition (USP). Your USP will define what makes your product better or different from that of the competition.
2. Test Demand for Your Products
Before launching an e-commerce website, it's important to ensure you have ample product demand. A good first step is to conduct market research. This can be as simple as creating a survey through a service like SurveyMonkey, and having your customers rate interest in products you plan to sell online and identify which ones they would rather test and buy in person. For newer products, you could give out physical samples and interact with customers one-on-one, gauging their positive and negative reactions to the products' features and incorporating that into stronger offerings tailored to your target audience.
To get a broader sense of products that people are searching for online, try free tools like Google Keyword Planner, which shows you keywords most relevant to your products and how often those keywords are searched, thus allowing you to budget for those that'll draw the most traffic to your site.
3. Pay Attention to Trends
Google Trends is another useful tool to help you measure not only market size and product interest, but also when, historically, that interest spikes, such as the release of a hot new smartphone or device spurring searches for related accessories. Understanding when people are most likely to buy some of your products can help you determine placement of featured items on your website. A wealth of information can also be found by searching for trending hashtags on Facebook and Instagram, and on Pinterest, which millennials frequently use to find things they want to buy.
4. Take Pre-Orders
Before launching your full marketplace, taking pre-orders can move you beyond the theoretical research you've conducted and give you concrete evidence of how products on your site are likely to fare. Customers will begin visiting your site, driving early traffic numbers, and their prepayment (refundable if you don't receive enough orders for an item) can fund manufacturing of the product or the purchasing of more inventory when you're at a profitable margin. If some products are getting off to a slower start, consider offering discounts to customers who pre-order by a certain date.
These four e-commerce tips should help you form the foundation your business needs to grow in the online marketplace.