The Internet and all its entities may seem like a whole other world to many SME owners, but the truth of the matter is this – the Internet could be the very element missing from a successful sales strategy.
Using the Internet as a way to market your wares is one thing. Utilising it to intelligently sell them is what you’re really after.
1. What can you sell?
Nearly anything can be sold via the Internet. But research has shown that ecommerce is better suited to cash goods than services. Clothing, electronics, sporting supplies, digital media, books, and the list goes on.
2. Selling online
The reason is simply that physical cash goods don’t require any contractual agreements to be signed and are easier to ship to the customer. It’s basic cash for goods methodology akin to buying something over a store counter.
As such, ecommerce suits those who sell physical goods that require little or no set-up procedure, can be shipped inexpensively, and have visual appeal.
3. Why go online?
Adding an ecommerce facility to your sales repertoire means you can sell to everyone, not just locals based around your brick-and-mortar efforts, or to the handful of distributors who have agreed to stock your wares.
Ecommerce stores also tend to attract more qualified sales prospects. These consumers are more likely to have disposable income, and appreciate the convenience factor an online store offers.
- They are significantly cheaper to establish than a brick-and-mortar outlet
- With the options available online, management is also easier, which requires less staffing to carry out tasks.
4. Setting up
As a starting point, I’d suggest learning about the processes aligned with an ecommerce store. Understand the process from your consumer’s point of engagement. A basic process flow would be: Google > Online store > Product page > Payment gateway > Shipping > Delivery.
Initially, look at a SaaS (software as a service) type ecommerce channel. Online companies like Shopify, or locally based Shopdirect, offer you basic functionality from as little as $29 a month with a fully capable and customisable online store, that can either be freestanding or adjoined to your current website.
I’d suggest the latter, as your website is going to be the first port of call for most of your prospective customers. From a construction standpoint, these SaaS models offer easy drag and drop functionality that make creating the site easy for anyone.
They also supply you with an on-call account manager to guide you through all the processes needed to establish your online store, should you require this.
5. Receiving payments
While the above-mentioned solutions aid you in establishing this payment gateway, think about how you’d prefer to be paid – via credit/debit card, or EFT? Some discussion with your bank may be required at this point.
Other options like PayPal can be used, but expect rather harsh commission fees associated with the sale.
6. Fulfilment process
Possibly the hardest part, and most critical from a customer service aspect of this process, is getting the goods from your holding area to the customer. Generally, the website will take care of all invoicing and picking slips as soon as a successful transaction is made, but human intervention is still required to pack boxes and arrange a courier.
Your prerogative will state if you add shipping to the invoice or if you’ll offer free shipping to orders over a certain spent amount.
7. Enhance your offering
The reason ecommerce has taken off so dramatically over the last few years is due to consumers becoming more individual in their shopping habits. Also, security concerns have diminished with time, making consumers more trusting of the Internet and its facilities.