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How do I sell products online?

More and more businesses are moving away from having a website that draws people to their premises, instead choosing to sell online. But what’s the best way to score the sale when you do it that way? Here’s our take.

How do I sell products online? image

Hello everyone! Zarte here! I’m just tweaking my LinkedIn profile and then I’ll be right with you!

Why am I doing that? Well because in employment terms, I’m a product, so it’s important I always try and sell myself well.

It’s the same for all products really. You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you’re selling it badly, no-one’s going to buy it. And it’s a question we get asked frequently – “How do I sell products online?” – so, we thought we’d try and answer it.

Our base answer might sound like a complete and utter copout, but it’s entirely true – follow the market leaders for online stores! Obviously, every business is unique, and therefore you might have a functional requirement or service you can offer that others don’t, or conversely, there may be things that a larger retailer can or should be offering that bear no relation to anything your customers would have a need for, however looking at these existing models and tailoring from them to your own specific needs is a key step for success.

Amazon are obviously the market leaders in terms of breadth of product offered and userbase at the current time. I don’t say this as an endorsement of them, or their practices (I’m personally not a fan of theirs, but I recognise their strengths), simply as a sensible yardstick of what the online shopper expects from a top level online store, and so what you can look at to consider what you should be offering yourself.

The fundamental principle should always be making the user experience as simple and uncomplicated as possible. These might seem tautological, but something can be simple, yet feature additional simple steps that frustrate progress. The removal of hurdles from the ordering process is the most likely way of getting customers coming back for more.

A few suggestions for things you could definitely consider are as follows:

  1. Filters for product searches. Without having to constantly refresh the page, have the option to filter a base search down into more specifics. Someone searches for a top, then let them select the size, what style of button they’d like, what colour etc. from the same page, either via drop down menus, or options down the side of the page. Try and avoid making customers page hop as much as possible
  2. Make the pricing and the delivery obvious and easy to understand. “From X” doesn’t help as a price if what they’re going to pay in reality is much more – give as much clear and direct information as you reasonably can about the product, and put your delivery fees in plain sight next to them. Hidden costs and charges might get you one more expensive sale in the short term, but it will annoy your customer and make it less likely that they’ll come back. Honesty is key.
  3. If you can know when the product will reach them if ordered at that time, then tell them that. A definitive date one week away will often make a customer happier to order than “Ooh, could be tomorrow, could be three weeks’ time” – additionally though, be sure to fulfil those dates. You might get away with being a day out, but if you don’t know, don’t lie, and certainly don’t imply it’ll be sooner than It will be. Again, honesty will pay off for you in the end.
  4. Make the checkout process as simple as possible. If you offer a product, or have a shop that people are likely to buy from repeatedly, then give them the option to build an account and save their details for future reference. If someone knows they can come back to you, and just click through the Personal Information screen because you asked them if they’d like you to remember them, then they’ll come back to you time and time again if it saves them from having to fill out multiple forms with different stores.
  5. Give them recommendations for other related products. It’s not solely about trying to make more money from the customer (though we’re not going to lie, that is lovely) – it’s about trying to show them alternatives that they might not have been aware existed, and to attempt to show them that you understand their requirements. Obviously this is not an exact science – we’ve all had some “What the...?” experiences with these recommendations, but get it right, and it can work a treat.
  6. Send emails with promotional offers, or even more recommendations as listed above to make them feel connected to you and keep you in their memory. You would be amazed how a well-timed e-mail correlating with the customer’s need to make a purchase can ensure that it’s you with whom they make it.

Anyway, this is not an exhaustive list, there are a million and one things you can do to tailor an individual customer base’s needs to your online store, but hopefully these will give you some food for thought, and are ideas you can implement within your own business soon.

If this gives you further thoughts you’d like to share, or questions you’d like answered, as always please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us – we love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Zarte