Hit the Ground Running with Your New Online Store

You have a great idea for what to sell in a new online store.  That’s terrific!  You have a lot of competition, even if no one is selling the unique items you have.  You are competing for customers’ attention against a lot of really well-established websites who know how to attract people’s eyes.  If you launch on a website that hosts sellers, like Etsy or eBay, you are going head-to-head against your direct competition. 

To succeed, you can’t just have a great product.  You have to know how to get it in front of your customers and be prepared to give them a positive buying experience.  Here are some of the basic steps to get you started. 

Find Out Where Your Customers Are

Not only do you have to sell on the right platform, you have to know where to direct your marketing to get customers to your platform.  Some stores might do better as a stand-alone website.  Others might benefit from participating in a virtual shopping mall, like Amazon or Etsy. 

Price It Right

Doing research on the markets you want to sell in is probably one of the most vital things you can do to ensure that your business makes money.  Goods should be priced high enough that the seller gets as much profit margin as possible.  However, the price can’t be so high that no one in the target demographic is willing or able to pay it. 

Write Good Descriptions

When writing a description for online sales, you want to strike a balance between four things.  First, keep it short.  Internet users and shoppers are notoriously impatient.  They gravitate towards attractive images over words.

Second, use words and phrases in the description that people are likely to use when they do a Google search for what you are selling.  This is known as search engine optimization, or SEO.

Third, if you need to write a lengthier description, write like a journalist.  Start with the most important, big picture facts up front.  Then, go into more detail or address more specialized concerns.

Fourth, make sure you tell a story.  What sets your items apart? Why are they special?

Take Great Pictures

In real estate the adage is location, location, location.  In online sales, it’s photos, photos, photos.  Think about the story your products tell.  If it’s a home good, consider putting it in a homey backdrop, for example.  Use great lighting.  Natural light is best, bright lighting is essential.  People won’t buy what they can’t see clearly.  So, also make sure to take photos of your product from a variety of angles. 

Set Up Payment Options

The whole point of your store is to make money.  So, get ready to make money! Not only do modern online stores have the ability to accept credit card payments, but they are ready to accept all the kinds of payments that modern shoppers want.  Venmo, Cashapp, Paypal, and even cryptocurrency have become increasingly popular payment options shoppers expect.

Know the Tax Rules

Depending on where you are, what you sell, and who you sell it to, there are different sales tax rules.  Goods and services are often taxed differently.  Some states require special taxes, fees, or deposits for certain types of goods, such as alcohol or tobacco sales. 

Be Prepared to Ship

Everyone knows the big shipping companies. That knowledge doesn’t make a company prepared for efficient shipping however.  The seller needs to understand two things before making the first sale. 

First, packaging matters.  The packaging should fit the story already told in the store about the product.  A beautiful garment should not just be crammed into the smallest envelope the seller can squeeze it into, just because the sale is complete.  To make customers feel like they got good value, the packaging should protect the item, but also reflect the overall buying experience the customer had. 

Second, in order to accurately quote shipping rates to customers, sellers need to know how to calculate shipping costs.  In shipping, size, speed, and distance matter.  Believe it or not, size is calculated as part of the weight of an item being shipped.  Fortunately, sellers don’t need to do complicated formulas.  An online weight calculator for shipping can do it for you in a flash.

Market Yourself

You’ve done the work.  You have a great product that the market wants.  You’ve done your homework and have set up a great business.  Now, get out there and let the world know! 

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