The world’s technological advancements are reshaping how people should start a business. Instead of being bound to have a brick-and-mortar store or a physical location, aspiring business owners can now sell their products or services through the internet.
This type of transaction is called e-commerce, which opens new opportunities to anyone who wants to start a business of their own without spending much effort and expenses on property rent. Because of this, many people consider taking this chance to become online sellers.
What Is An Online Seller?
An online seller is a term used to describe someone who has an online business that sells anything on the internet. Some online sellers sell products that they made themselves, while others market antiques or used items, like books or toys they have, and the rest of the online sellers partner with a manufacturer to sell new merchandise.
Having something to sell, a stable internet connection, and a laptop can be all it takes to start an online business. However, if you want to establish a successful e-commerce business, you must consider several things.
Becoming an online seller means you have to do various things. Taking photographs of products, writing product descriptions, setting up an e-commerce website and implementing SEO strategies, uploading these details on your online shop, and promoting your products online are just a few responsibilities of an online seller.
If you are up for the challenge and ready to become an online seller, you need to prepare yourself. The following parts will give you enough knowledge about online selling, including what you need to do to have a successful e-commerce business.
Part 1: The Growth Of Online Selling
More online shoppers are one of the reasons why the e-commerce industry is growing worldwide. Online buyers and online sellers have more room to grow as technological advancements develop further, and digital marketing helps them more to discover and sell products or services online.
Apart from that, many other factors affect the growth of online selling worldwide. Here are just a few of them.
5 Factors That Affect The Growth Of Online Selling
1. Younger Consumers
As time passes, a much younger generation becomes the new average consumer. Nowadays, millennials and Generation Z are the younger generations leading the way to the growth of online shopping and selling.
Since they are the ones who grew up in the digital age, they are more proficient in using the internet for various things. Generation Z, in particular, cannot recall a time when the internet and technology did not exist. They have no experience with anything other than researching and buying what they want or need online.
Many people consider starting an online business knowing that more people will be able to access the internet using smartphones, increasing the possibility of consumers stumbling upon their e-commerce website.
And with the continuous release of smartphone models every year, the number of smartphone users grows worldwide with no sign of slowing down. Smartphones provide consumers instant access to the internet anytime, anywhere.
3. Social Media Marketplace
The use of social media platforms has become more popular throughout the years. This 2022, a social media user spent an average of 147 minutes a day on social media, and 76% of them often buy things they have seen there.
That number is possible to increase as more social media platforms consider having a marketplace and give aspiring business owners more reasons to sell their products or services online.
4. Payment Options
Another thing that affects the growth of online selling is the increase of payment options. As an online seller, receiving payments from customers that bought an item on its e-commerce website stimulates them to sell more.
Apart from the standard payment options (credit/debit card, prepaid card payments, bank transfers), consumers can now settle their expenses via mobile payments, e-wallet, etc. Having more payment options gives online sellers peace of mind that any online transaction will get paid right away.
5. Government Funding Opportunities
The government funding opportunities are grants provided to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and startup, which often comes with particular criteria business owners have to meet.
In Singapore, for example, SMEs can apply for Productivity Solutions Grant for e-commerce solutions, while startup can get funding support by applying for Startup SG. Both are grants that encourage business owners to improve their online business.
5 Benefits Of Online Selling
1. Cheaper Startup Costs
Anyone who owns and operates a brick-and-mortar store or physical location knows how costly it is. Besides paying rent and utilities every month, you also have to spend on the interior design renovation and the staff’s wages and benefits.
Those are just some of the factors why starting an online business and becoming an online seller is much cheaper. The cost you have to pay for hiring an e-commerce website and an SEO agency are way more affordable.
2. Reach more customers
When it comes to online selling, expect little boundaries to overcome. No matter how small your online startup is, you can reach a wide range of customers online. You only need to implement an effective digital marketing campaign so many consumers can stumble upon your e-commerce website and see what you can offer.
Even though shipping things across the globe may be expensive, selling online can increase demand, and you eventually increase your sales.
3. Manage Online Store Anytime, Anywhere
When you set up an online business, you are not bound to stay in one location. Not only can you sell anything to consumers across the globe, but you can also manage your online business wherever you go.
As long as you have your products, a stable internet connection and a laptop with you, including the packaging, you can send orders out for delivery and expect your customers to receive them a few days later.
4. Open 24 hours A Day
Another obvious benefit of online selling is that your e-commerce website is open 24 hours a day. Since almost everyone can interact and connect with anyone from the other side of the world, you can expect consumers to purchase at their convenience.
For example, if you are an e-commerce business owner from Singapore and consumers from the USA purchased from your online store when you are asleep, you can see what they have ordered the next day.
With no opening and closing hours, consumers can purchase at any time of the day, which helps increase your sales and profits.
5. Quick Setup
Setting up an online business is relatively easier and faster than having a physical location. Without the overhead cost for rental space, utilities and interior design, you can start selling as soon as possible. After all, you only need to have an online store, and you are practically ready to sell.
With more consumers shopping online, it is unquestionably a fantastic time to be an online retailer. The e-commerce industry is steadily growing, and things will only get better as technological advancements develop.
Part 2: How To Set Up An E-commerce Shop From Scratch
Establishing an e-commerce shop from scratch is relatively easy since almost everything you need is available on the internet. The only thing that makes it challenging is not knowing what you should do next. Since many factors come into play, it is only natural to get confused with a lot of information to process, consider and take in.
To help you set up your e-commerce shop, all the steps you need to go through are listed below. Before moving on to the next stage, make sure you take your time with each one. It will allow you to rest assured that you have not overlooked anything.
9 Steps to Launching an Online Store
Step 1: Research What To Sell
If you have not sold anything offline, the first and most crucial step you need to do is establish what you are going to sell. You must choose the perfect niche to launch a successful e-commerce business.
To come up with an answer about what you should sell, consider asking these questions:
- Do you have an area of expertise? If you have, what is it?
- Are the skills or expertise you possess marketable?
- What roles do those abilities play in the market?
- Are there any goods you would like to sell?
Answering these questions will help you when you start researching the market and determine what kind of an e-commerce website you would like to have. If you are having a hard time answering these questions, below are the different ways to spot a marketable product:
- Social listening
- Following search trends found on Google Trends
- Checking e-commerce aggregator websites like Trend Hunter
Once you have found the niche that you want to sell, do a background check of your possible competitors. Doing so will give you ideas on how their products are reaching customers and the focal point their e-commerce websitehas that appeals to consumers.
Step 2: Determine Which Target Market
While you are acquiring information about the product or service you will be selling, consider studying your target market. Knowing the characteristics of your potential customers will come in handy when you start promoting your e-commerce business. You will have ideas on how they behave and what you can do to attract their attention and nudge them to make a purchase.
Answer the following questions to help you determine which is your target market:
- What is their age range? Are they from Gen Z, millennial or boomer generation?
- Where does your target market mostly live? In the city, abroad or province?
- What is their social status? Are they single or married?
- How much is the estimated income of your target market?
Your answers will give you clues on where your target market will be online, what messages they will react to, and if they can afford what you offer. When it comes to setting up an e-commerce shop, these pieces of information will implement an effective digital marketing scheme for your products or services.
Step 3: Validate Chosen Products
The next step that you need to do is validate your chosen products. Many startups, not only online sellers, consider this matter one of their first headaches since half of the new small businesses fail within the first year of their operation due to a lack of product validation.
Product validation is a method used by businesses to put their idea to the test with real people to receive feedback on their viability. The gathered data they have received will help them reduce the risk of spending time, funds, and effort developing, let alone promoting the product.
Most of those half small businesses are aspiring business owners that barely have experience when it comes to running a business, which is why they did not think of checking their chosen product’s market demand.
Without a market demand, it will be hard for business owners to sustain their operations, even for a short time. The only way to prevent that is to prove that people are willing to pay for your chosen product. Make sure to do product validation before investing in the packaging design and digital marketing promotion of the product so you will not waste your time, effort, and capital.
Step 4: Decide How To Get The Product
If you are setting up an e-commerce business to sell an actual physical product, you will need to determine how to get it so you can fulfil the orders of your customers. Here are the five different ways you need to consider:
Handcraft The Product Yourself
In the world of ready-made products, many consumers would love to have handcrafted ones. If your chosen product is something you can make yourself by hand, do it. Handcrafting using ingredients or materials you bought like homemade dishwashing soap, ceramic pots, or bespoke cake is a great option to save up for the capital cost.
When making handicraft products, make sure to buy the ingredients in small batches. Doing so will help you control the cost and mitigate the risk.
Did the ones you made sell well instantly? If so, scaling the quantity little by little will help you manage your inventory. It will also prevent you from making more than what your customers demand.
Partner With A Manufacturer
If you are not satisfied with your handcrafting skills or do not have the right tools to produce one, partnering with a manufacturer is an excellent alternative. When you partner with a manufacturer, you can make a product that you have in mind. That means you can create something original that is unique to others.
The problem, however, is that manufacturers require a minimum quantity of orders. If you do not meet that, they will be less likely to consider your request. If you go this way, make sure you can handle the costs of those massive orders.
Purchase And Resell Products
Another option is purchasing a wholesale amount of products from a particular supplier and reselling them on your e-commerce website. The products you will be buying are existing ones that people are already familiar with, and you are only selling them at a much more affordable price.
The only downside of this is that you do not have much control of the product price, let alone the quality. That means you mostly need to follow the recommended price range given by the supplier, and you cannot sell the products you acquired from them for a cheaper amount.
Engage With A Drop-shipping Company
The next option you have to get a product for your e-commerce business is to engage with a drop-shipping company. Collaborating with them is great since you no longer have to deal with product inventory, and they can send the orders of customers on your behalf. The only catch with a drop-shipping company is that you will have a low-profit margin since you will have to pay the drop shipper a lot for providing, packing, and delivering the products to your customers.
Create And Offer Digital Products
When it comes to digital products, they are the things you can create digitally, like blog posts, video clips, digital content creation (infographics), etc.
Consumers nowadays appreciate digital downloads or services that they can use easily for what they need, whether for personal or business use. As an online startup, offering digital products is a viable option since there is little to no production cost. You only need to make sure the digital products you are selling are aesthetically pleasing and helpful to your customers.
Step 5: Come Up With An Online Business Name
It is crucial to name your e-commerce website and domain since it will be the name people will recall for the products you sell. If your online store has easy to remember the name, your potential customers can easily find you online.
Your business name will appear as soon as they type on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo! Besides, you do not want your potential consumers mispronouncing it to Siri or Alexa when they look for your shop via voice search.
Below are the things you need to consider when coming up with your online business name.
- Keep it straightforward (e.g., Apple, Lazada, Nike)
- Use your imagination.
- Be unique as much as possible
Ideally, a business name should be short. According to Forbes, longer brand names tend to have a greater disfluency of memorability.
Step 6: Create Online Store
Now that you have your cohen product to sell and an online business name, you are ready to create your online store. You only need to choose between an e-commerce platform and an e-commerce marketplace.
Look at the infographic below to see the difference between the two.
Step 7: Figure Out How To Ship
Free shipping and fast delivery have become commonplace, but not all online sellers can afford to provide these to their customers.
The same goes for you. Since your e-commerce business is still at the startup phase, you do not have to compete for that much with the e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and many more.
Be sure before you post your prices and release your digital marketing campaign, you have calculated your shipping expenses since they can affect your overall revenues.
Step 8: Promote Products Or Services Online
Once you officially launch your e-commerce business, focus on digital marketing until you have reached your target market and made a sale. Doing so will help drive traffic to your e-commerce website, gain leads, and generate conversions.
When promoting your products or services online, you have to find and choose the best platforms. That is the secret to successful digital marketing. The ones you choose will be the ones going to help you bring in new customers and nudge them to purchase.
Apart from creating social media and marketing your company there, consider investing in a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. An SEM campaign is a paid ad that allows your web pages to appear right in front of your target audience on their search engine results pages (SERPs).
Step 9: Always Update The Inventory
As quick as the season changes, best-selling products also fade away. It means consumers no longer sought after them, and as an online seller, this matter is crucial since it can be a potential loss of sales in your-ecommerce business.
That is why you should not solely rely on a few products and make sure to offer arrivals once in a while so your customers will have more options to choose from when they browse through your e-ecommerce website.
To get product ideas, go back to step 1 and go through 2, 3, and 4. These steps will help you find products that sell and suit your e-commerce business.
Set Up An E-commerce Shop With OOm
You have to take care of several things when setting up an e-commerce shop. Even though the entire process may appear daunting, you can make it happen as long as you are committed to reaching your dream and becoming an online seller!
Work your way through by doing it one step at a time. If your e-commerce website and SEO strategies are not working as you imagine, figure out what went wrong, think of solutions, and adapt as you go.
Running an online business and becoming an online seller is a continuous process, and the challenges you need to face will get more demanding as your business grows. That is what a successful e-commerce business is all about, and it is something for which you must prepare.
Contact OOm now to help you set up an e-commerce business through e-commerce website development and SEO strategies.