Homepreneurs and small businesses can greatly expand their sales and marketing channels by employing online strategies. Many opportunities exist to sell via the Internet including: blogs, websites, etsy, Facebook, eBay and many more. Homepreneurs has blogged about setting up a Facebook store and using WordPress plugins for sales. In this post, Rieva Lesonsky covers general information about selling more online. While mainly geared to websites, Lesonsky’s suggestions are generally applicable to any eCommerce sites.
Consider the number of users on Facebook alone: 800 million. With more than 97 million active users globally (as of Q2 2011), eBay is the world’s largest online marketplace (1) and according to Quantcast, Etsy.com reaches over 2.2 million people each month in the United States alone. These numbers are significant and something small and home business owners cannot dismiss. Naturally, one can still sell their wares locally at stores, trade shows, and art & craft shows. But even the largest of these shows will have only a hundred thousand buyers or so.
Further, consider the inventory issue: if one sets up a brick and mortar store or display at a show, a large quantity of product is needed. This is money tied up in made or purchased product; if it doesn’t sell, you’re stuck with it. Using eCommerce allows one to purchase or make additional product as the market demands. You’ll certainly want to have a small inventory for online sales of course, but one can always purchase or make additional product as needed. If the product doesn’t sell, discount it steeply, put it on clearance or stash it for another day.
Homepreneurs and small business owners pay attention: eCommerce is here, growing, reaches hundreds of millions of potential buyers, and is the most cost-effective way to market and sell your product.
6 Ways to Sell More Online
By Rieva Lesonsky
Is your company selling products or services online? Good for you. Too many small businesses still aren’t taking advantage of ecommerce opportunities. But are you selling as much as you possibly could be? Probably not. Try these tactics to boost your ecommerce sales:
1. Create an appealing site. When a location is well-designed—whether it’s a store or a website—customers will linger, spending more time and money there. Make sure your site is well organized, easy to navigate and fast to load. If your design, colors or images are outdated, it’s time for a makeover.
2. Provide the right information. Your site should answer all the questions customers might have about your product or service. Pay special attention to product descriptions—online, where customers can’t touch the product, descriptions can make or break the sale. Add or link to reviews if you can to help customers make up their minds. Put your phone number, chat links or other way for customers to contact you with questions prominently on every page.
3. Use the power of SEO. What happens when you type your business name or product name into a search engine? If you’re not on the first page of search results, it’s time for some search engine optimization (SEO). You can hire experts to help with your SEO, or learn the ropes yourself by taking a webinar, seminar or class. Check out your local community college’s offerings or contact SCORE or your local Small Business Development Center.
4. Make an offer. Offering discounts, free shipping or buy-one, get-one-free deals are all good ways to encourage customers to buy more—so you make more. Keep tabs on the incentives your key competitors offer and always try to exceed or at least match them.
5. Spread the word. Use email marketing (newsletters and sales announcements), social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) and shopping comparison sites such as Bizrate.com and Google Shopping to let potential customers know about your website and products.
6. Get personal. Keep customers coming back for more with a personal touch. Send customers emails targeted to what they bought in the past and suggesting related items they might like. You can interact and get feedback from customers by sending them email surveys, using survey tools like Zoomerang.com or SurveyMonkey.com, posting surveys on your Facebook page, or asking questions on Twitter. As a small business, personal interaction with customers differentiates you from bigger companies and can give you a marketing edge.
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunities.