To sell is an art and to sell online is modern art.
Learn how to sell online effectively with our comprehensive guide. Discover essential strategies, platforms, and techniques to maximize your success in the online marketplace.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced seller, our article provides valuable insights on how to sell online, covering everything from setting up your online store to driving traffic and increasing conversions.
Why you should sell online?
eCommerce in India is booming. According to a study conducted by Google India, there were 35 million online shoppers in India in 2014 Q1 which is expected to cross the 100 million mark by the end of the year 2016. Broadband internet and the explosive growth of mobile phones are fueling this growth further.
Companies like Flipkart have already crossed billion dollar valuation. If you have a product to sell, this is perhaps the best time to start selling it online. Here is an ultimate guide to teach you how to sell online in India.
Before You Start Selling Online
1) Calculate the costs involved in selling online
Selling online in India or any country for that matter involves various costs. It’s important to first find out if you can make good profits after considering all those costs. Let’s look at some of the important costs:
Shipping Cost – Visit your nearest courier or shipping company and find out how much it would cost to ship your product to various parts of India. Make a list of states and shipping fees. Normally this cost hovers between 5% to 15% of the product cost depending on the size and weight of the product.
Packaging Cost – Depending on the type of product you are planning to sell, you will need to consider the packaging cost. Check the different packing materials and calculate how much you will need for one product. Calculate the total cost per product accordingly. Normally it’s between 0.5% to 2% of the product cost.
Payment Gateway Cost – If you planning to set up your store, you will need a payment gateway. These sites normally charge between 1.5% to 5% of the total transaction. There could be one-time setup fees and recurring annual maintenance fees. Last time when I checked, most payment gateway providers had waived these fees. You can negotiate the transaction fee if you have a higher volume.
Storage Cost – Depending on the product, you might need to rent a warehouse or some storage space for your products. Find out this cost as well. Some online marketplaces like Amazon let you use their warehouses at a small fee.
Marketing Cost – Like any other business, you will have to tell the world that you have arrived. Surely, there are free ways to promote your business but at some point in time, you will have to invest in paid marketing channels. Google’s AdWords is a good platform to start with online ads and it also offers tools to calculate the costs.
2) Find out if it’s viable to sell online
Now that you have a fair idea of the different costs involved in selling online, you can do quick math to find out the profitability of your venture. Here is a simple formula :
Profit Margin= Selling price – (Sourcing Cost + Packing & Shipping + Transaction Fees + Marketing Cost + Variable Costs)
If your profit margin is positive, you are good to go ahead and start selling online. If it’s very low or negative, you should think about minimizing the costs.
3) Create a digital catalog of your products
Assuming you have passed the profit margin test, it’s time to take the next step. You will need to create a list of products in a spreadsheet. Later you will be able to import that list to eCommerce marketplaces or self-hosted shopping carts. This list should contain Product Code (or SKU), Product Name, Description, Category, Selling Price, Discount (If any), Brand, Colour, and other applicable attributes.
Once this is done, take 3-4 good-quality photographs of the product from different angles, preferably on white background. Product images play a vital role in online selling, so it’s recommended to take help from a professional. In some cases, you can get these photos from the manufacturer as well.
4) Setup End to End Process
It’s better to get organized from day one. Do you know how event management companies manage huge events without any goof up? Well, they play the entire event in their minds before they start working on it. You can do the same and lay out a process describing steps from getting an order to shipping the goods.
It could be a simple checklist for doing quality checks, packaging, invoicing, etc. This will help also help your staff when you are not around.
5) Use A Good Inventory Management Software
As you will be dealing with inventory every day, it might become painful to manage inward and outward stock movement manually. Start using good inventory management software to track your inventory. Some of the softwares even provide an inventory sync option with your shopping cart or marketplace account.
Also, read – 12 Inventory management techniques to cut losses.
6) Be discoverable online
Your customers are more likely to search for your business before they make any purchases. If they can’t find product reviews or any other information about your business, they might drop off. So, it’s important to have an online presence in the form of a company website, social media account, or any other channel.
Here is an in-depth guide to building an online presence for your business.
Selling On Marketplaces Vs Own Web Store
Now that you are ready to sell online, it’s time for a big decision. Should you sell on online eCommerce marketplaces like Flipkart or Amazon or should you set up your web store?
Let’s evaluate the first option:
Sell online using eCommerce Marketplaces:
This one is perhaps the most simple option. The process of selling on these marketplaces is very simple and you can start selling within a week.
Process Involved – All you have to do is to visit the seller-registration pages of these sites by clicking on the links above and submitting your business details. You will need to keep your VAT registration number, PAN number, and Bank details handy. Some sites need address proof as well. You can upload scanned copies of these documents. Verification is completed normally in a couple of days.
Advantages – You can save big on the marketing cost. All of these marketplaces attract millions of visitors every day and have a loyal user base. You also don’t need to worry about the payment gateway and shipping. Most of these portals provide packing material as well.
Disadvantages – These marketplaces charge higher commissions on every sale. For some items, it could go up to 15-20%. Apart from this, you have little control over how your product is displayed on their sites.
As you can see, selling on eCommerce marketplaces is a fairly simple process. It takes less time and you can save on your marketing costs.
Now, let’s look at another option:
Setup your own web store or shopping cart to sell online:
This option can be further split into two parts – You can either develop your own eCommerce website and host it on your server or create a web store using online store creators. We will discuss the second option as it’s relatively easy and cost-saving.
Process Involved – Just register on one of these sites and upload your product catalog. You can link your payment gateway or use the one provided by these sites.
Advantages – Interface is easy and no technical knowledge is required. You customize the look and feel of your store.
Disadvantages – You will have to invest in marketing your site. It will take time to build trust as customers hesitate to buy from new sites.
So, take your pick and start selling online.
5 Tips To Make Your First Sale!
Once your store is up and running, it’s time to generate your first sale. Here are 5 ideas to start the ball rolling:
Start Emailing Your Contacts
Sell To Friends & Family On Facebook
Buy Facebook Ads
Promote On Google
Generate Coupons & Submit Them To Deal Sites
Create one pre-launch mailing list in a simple spreadsheet. You can even export contacts from your Gmail or other mail account. Import those lists into a bulk mailing service like Mailchimp. Create a simple mail highlighting your products and tell the world that you’ve launched a new site. It will be a good idea to insert a special coupon code.
Share your product photos on Facebook and other social networks. Connect with your friends and family on a personal level and tell them about your new venture. If they are not ready to buy, ask them to share it with their network.
Facebook Advertising provides a great option to target your product Ad precisely. You can show your Ad to people based on their hobby, lifestyle, gender, location, and much more. You might have to keep monitoring the results and tweak your campaign accordingly.
Google’s Adwords platform is one of the most popular advertising networks. You can display your product to people who are searching for it. This increases the chances of a sale. Similar to Facebook Ads, you will need to constantly monitor the performance and finetune your Ad.
There are a lot of Indian coupon listing sites where you can submit your special discount coupons. People normally search for coupons before buying a product. Most of these sites do not charge any fee for coupon submission.
Remember, your first few sales shouldnt be about just making profits. They should be about finding your product/market fit and understanding the demand. During the initial days, your focus should be to refine your advertising, shipping, fulfillment, customer service, and shopping experience.
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