Online shopping is big business. In a May, 2000 report published by E-Commerce Times roughly eighty-five percent of internet users also did their shopping online. This was back when websites like Amazon.com were still fairly new, and sites like Etsy didn’t even exist.
Today, Amazon is the world’s leading online retailer, and Etsy boasts over a quarter of a million active sellers. Unfortunately, with the increased interest in online buying also comes increased competition. It can be difficult to get your online business on the map, let alone make it stand out from all the other similar offerings out there. Difficult, but not impossible. The key is in finding small ways for you company to make a big impact.
1. Do your research.
Whether you are planning to open a shop on a site like Etsy or Amazon, or planning to start your own site, do some research about the site to learn the demographics of your target audience. It would also help to look at the pages and websites of other successful sellers to determine which of their products and services appeal to their buyers. You shouldn’t necessarily try to copy those pages, but seeing what makes them successful will help you find better ideas for promoting your site and your products.
2. Add a personal touch.
Part of the appeal of sites like Etsy is that the customer feels that they are dealing with an individual rather than a large corporation. You should strive to add a personal touch to your store, which could include personalizing your shop page and using unique and branded packaging on the orders you send out. You have to buy boxes anyway, and ordering customized boxes with your logo or company name will go a long way toward fostering brand recognition. Customized boxes also look more professional and make the customer feel as if you are working to impress them.
3. Expand your marketing.
Having a unique website and catchy name are all well and good, but you need to make sure to expand your marketing efforts beyond your seller site. Consider purchasing ad space on social media sites, like Facebook, to get your business out there. If purchasing ad space is not within your budget, then create a company page and invite your Facebook friends to like the page – just make sure you keep the page-up-to date with announcements and specials. You can also start a blog and link both your store and your social media page to the site to generate more traffic.
You can also find more ways to market your site here.
4. Offer stellar customer service.
Buyers want to feel that they can trust you to get their orders right, and to make timely corrections when you make a mistake. They also like to feel as if they won’t have any problem contacting you if they have any questions or issues. It’s important to have accurate contact information available, as well as clearly-explained return and refund policies. You also need to stay on top of your email correspondence and respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours. If you can set up your mail software to send a form letter informing senders that you have received their request, and when they can expect to hear back, that can go a long way toward fostering trust and good will toward your business.
5. Don’t forget your product.
Market research, branding, and great customer service are all well and good, but they won’t get you very far if your product is subpar. If you are selling hand-made items, you don’t necessarily have to use the most expensive materials, but you also shouldn’t settle for the cheapest option either. Cutting corners might save you some money on the front end, but it could end up costing you in the long run if you have to continually repair or replace defective products, and develop a reputation for shoddy workmanship. Also, if you better materials and production techniques, then you can ask higher prices.
If you are reselling products from a manufacturer, make sure that those products are well-made and in good condition before you send them out to your customers. The last thing you want is for a batch of products to come back to you because they were defective when they came from the manufacturer.
Getting involved in the competitive world of online sales can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding when done right.