When last did you look up a business in a telephone directory? When last did you try to find out details about a product without researching on the internet?
Ecommerce is exploding internationally and in South Africa. This means it is the perfect time to sell products online, in a managed and integrated manner to ensure ongoing success.
There are a number of crucial items to consider when selling products online.
1. Who are you going to sell products online to?
Can you identify the online user base you want to sell to?
Are your products mainly bought by businesses or by consumers, or by a combination of both?
Do you wish to sell to a specific demographic or income group?
Are you bound to a specific region or will you sell worldwide?
All of these need to be considered in building your online business. The answers to these questions will determine a lot in terms of how you will market and how you will structure and target your technical search engine optimisation.
Based on the decisions you make, it is a good idea to engage an inbound marketing consultancy to help you at the early stages of your venture, this will help you to accurately target and focus your website right up front before you have even started building it and will ensure that you successfully sell products online.
2. Create quality content and ensure that it conforms to search engine requirements
Your website alone is not going to suddenly bring traffic to you and increase your sales. Imagine that your website is a retail outlet or a salesperson or a branch of your business. You spend a lot of time and money in making these function in terms of look and feel, sales training, advertising and marketing. You need to do the same for your internet presence. Be aware that it is an ongoing exercise to promote and sell products online.
Your content should include details about your company, high quality keyword driven articles outlining how you do business and what kind of business you do, products merchandised with images, text, possibly videos and technical specifications. In addition you should be generating content in a blog related to your business and showing your depth of knowledge of the industry as well as keeping your website alive and changing.
3. Ensure that you present your business as a credible online company
Clearly define your payment methods and refund policies. Ensure that customers understand what they pay in addition to the product in terms of delivery charges and insurance fees. Where possible have credible customer testimonials to display.
4. Embrace mobile devices
More and more people are accessing the internet using mobile devices. It is essential that you can sell product online and your site needs to be structured to allow this with a responsive site, premium content, online maps and possibly a free downloadable app.
Be sure to choose technology to build your site which offers a full responsive solution.
5. Integrate your e-commerce processes into your existing business
There are typically multiple channels of sales into most businesses, possibly sales representatives on the road, a branch or retail outlet, outbound telephonic sales, whichever. Ensure that you integrate the ecommerce sales into your existing workflow and that it is not a separate set of processes and procedures which need to be followed in order to get your product sold online to a customer.
See if your website and ecommerce solution can integrate into your stock and sales systems otherwise you will have bottlenecks and out of stock situations arising.
6. Traffic, conversion and economics
Sales expert Perry Marshall says there are three steps to selling anything, these being traffic, conversion and economics. Get the traffic, convert the traffic, take the money and reinvest it in more traffic.
How do you get the traffic - this is done by having high quality content on your site, keyword related well written content in your blog, conforming to search engine criteria for a higher listing in the search rankings, running effective adword campaigns.
How do you convert the traffic - this is done by enabling your customers to connect in some way directly with your business, either by means of an effective newsletter subscription, premium content and various other channels and then taking them on a buyers journey, preferably where they buy again and again.
When starting up you will need to have an effective adword campaign running and it will cost money, until such time as your blog or site content takes you higher in the search engine rankings the adword campaign is vital.