Did you know that globally, there are 12-24 million ecommerce sites?
One of the great things about ecommerce is that it has offered more people the opportunity to sell products, with accessible platforms and widespread availability. On the downside, there’s a lot of competition and many ecommerce businesses don’t get great results.
What separates successful businesses from the rest? There are three main keys to successfully selling online:
First thing’s first, you’ve got to have a product or service to sell. This sounds simple enough, but it’s a little more complicated in reality. You need the right products or services. Getting the product mix right can be tricky - you need to be able to offer products that your customers want at a price they’re willing to pay.
You’ve usually got no shortage of competitors, especially if you’re going to sell products or services that aren’t your own. You need to be able to serve a need - that’s what it boils down to. If there are competitors in your space, you need to either compete in a market with a huge customer base, find a way to differentiate what you offer from competitors, or both.
It’s worth putting time and effort into research before deciding on the products or services you will sell. For example, 59% of millennials go to Amazon first when shopping for a product. If they sell similar products to you, they may be your biggest competitor. Alternatively, you may need a strategy that includes selling on Amazon.
We’ve rounded up a few tried and true strategies for finding the right products or services to sell online:
The second thing you need is an online platform through which you can accept and fulfill orders. Most successful ecommerce businesses operate with their own website, while many use third-party marketplace platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, or eBay. Some do a mixture of both in order to maximize their visibility.
One question most people ask when they’re starting out is, which platform should I use to sell? The answer will be based on whether the setup and any ongoing fees or maintenance work for you, as well as your ability to get an audience to the platform. Here’s a quick breakdown:
This third step is arguably the most difficult of the lot. You need someone to sell your products or services to! It’s not easy to get people coming to your website and making purchases. They have so many options and the internet is a busy, crowded place.
You need a steady, reliable stream of visitors to your ecommerce site in order to make enough sales. The average abandoned shopping cart rate is nearly 70% across all industries, so you need to consider that potentially up to 70 out of every 100 visitors won’t buy anything.
Here are some common ways to get website traffic:
This means growing a following of people who are interested in you or your business. Influencers or content creators typically build an audience. Many grow their audiences to large numbers before considering selling to them, although making that transition is often something influencers struggle with.
An audience tends to be the most difficult to acquire, yet the most valuable of the various ways to get customers. This is because there is an established relationship between the influencer or content creator and the customer. Similarly, brands are able to utilize their reputation to drive sales because it establishes something of a relationship with their customers.
Audience-building happens when you have the right platform and a very good understanding of who your audience is. You can then create content that your audience wants to consume. Social media platforms tend to be at the forefront of this, with sites like TikTok soaring as an entrant into the social commerce field.
Website blogs or email newsletters can also be good audience builders (yes, people still subscribe to and read email newsletters!). Like social media, the key is to create the content your audience wants. You can then sell products from that content, for example via links on blogs or newsletters.
Organic traffic is great because you don’t have to pay for it directly. This describes the traffic that lands on your website via search, links, or other means, without you having to purchase ads to promote your website.
Organic traffic tends to be a slow-building strategy. It takes time for your website to show up in search results, for example. You will need to follow an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, including things like relevant content, use of keywords, building backlinks, and any of a long list of SEO techniques.
The main disadvantage of paid acquisition is that you must pay to acquire traffic, then hope that you get enough of the right traffic so that you make sales.
Paid acquisition may be done through PPC (pay-per-click) on search engines, or you might use social media advertising platforms. It’s important to consider where your audience is likely to come from first, so that you don’t waste money on the wrong platforms.
There really are just three keys to selling online, it’s getting them right that’s the tricky thing. You need the right combination of product choice, platform choice, and audience to ensure you’re able to make sales and not fruitlessly driving traffic.
Finally, there’s a lot that goes into the order and fulfillment side of ecommerce, which many businesses often don’t have the resources to handle well. With the three key elements above in place, dropshipping may be a great option for anyone wanting to sell online, but without the resources to warehouse products and fulfill orders. Here’s how Mothership can help you set that up.