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7 Essential Steps to Sell Online In The U.S.

When we talk about selling online, what are the first thoughts that come to your mind? If you say store setup, marketing, and shipping, you’re absolutely right. But online sales don’t begin, or end, just there. From digital marketing to choosing shipping partners, setting up payment gateways, and choosing your inventory, there’s so much to think of when you sell online. Worry not, because we have you covered in just 7 steps! Research The purpose of every business is profit. The channels you choose to sell on are only accessories to the fact that you need to sell. Period. Profit margins play a key role in determining how well you do as a business. The costs of setting up an online store are much lesser than its physical counterpart – you don’t have to deal with renting out space, utility bills, POS systems and also warehouse space and staff. However, costs such as packaging, shipping and returns will always be your responsibility. Hence, the choice of products you sell online must be very different from what you’d choose in an outlet. Apparel and consumer electronics make up a major chunk of products that sell online successfully. Over a span of six years beginning in 2012, sales in these two categories were projected to grow at about a 120% each. Just a simple comparison of the interest over time in product categories will tell you what you can expect future trends to be like. In the graph above, the blue line is the ‘interest over time in apparel online sales’ while the red line represents ‘interest over time in furniture online sales’. Furniture generates fairly steady interest over time as compared to apparel. Depending on your risk appetite, you can choose one of these product categories – furniture for steady sales and apparel to play the number game and cash in on seasonal spikes. Consider how much warehouse space your products occupy. Furniture does have potential for higher markups, but it occupies a lot of space as well. Compare this to apparel that also has a higher markup but occupies significantly lesser space. While deciding which product to sell, consider what kind of appetite you have for expenses such as leasing and maintaining a warehouse space. Also not to be ignored is shipping. Customers usually don’t appreciate having to pay for shipping, unless it is a standard fee that seems low enough. If you were to keep it generic and let the shipping fees be fluid, people may leave your site without checking out their carts. Most importantly, the burden of all of these fees and low margins should not turn you into a loss-making enterprise. Product Assortment We just spoke about choosing products with greater margins. Should this be the only criterion in deciding what to stock? The obvious answer is no. There are some products that go viral and sell tremendously for a period of time – think selfie sticks. The obvious advantage of selling a viral product is that you can quickly get your stocks to move. The downside is that should the fad run out suddenly, you’d find yourself with no takers for your product. So if you can jump in on the bandwagon and deliver viral products quickly, you can make some good money on them. There are also benefits to selling products that have multiple sellers but also multiple takers. Since there are multiple sellers, you know that the demand for the product is high. Therefore, chances of you selling it are higher too. At the same time, can you afford to get into a price war with other sellers in a marketplace? Do you have a distinct cost advantage that they may not have? Ready For A Sale When customers shop online, the only way for them to see a product is through pictures. This is why several ecommerce sites invest in photography, complete with props and all. Even if you don’t have the budget for a fancy photoshoot of all your products, you still need high resolution pictures that look good. If you sell home decor or furniture, you may want to photograph the product from as many angles as possible, as well as include dimension info. With apparel, it is always good to shoot against a neutral background. Unless you are truly cash-strapped, invest in a good product photographer. You then need to create product SKUs, or Stock Keeping Units. An SKU code is the product’s unique identity, and it will help you keep track of inventory without actually having to count each time. Whenever a customer adds a product to their…

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7 Essential Steps to Sell Online In The U.S.

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