How To Sell Your Products Online: 12 Tips To Get You Started

As the e-commerce space is growing, it’s natural that you’d want to start your own online business too. Here are 12 tips on how to sell online and get your business up and running.
Jason Chow
Jason Chow

Reading time: 5 minutes

In the past, convenience motivated online shopping. However, it is now a necessity

Thanks to the ever-evolving pandemic, e-commerce businesses are flourishing. Retail e-commerce sales to reach about $7.4 trillion by 2025, a whopping figure you would not want to miss.

Understandably, companies want to keep their brick-and-mortar shops. However, e-commerce platforms have higher flexibility, better affordability, and more opportunities. Although you need a certain amount of capital to build and maintain your online store, the costs are comparatively less. 

Also, the buying process is more convenient and faster. These factors combine to result in practically unlimited business potential once you get things running smoothly. As Kevin Indig, Director of SEO at Shopify, says, “Times are changing, and to stay relevant, merchants need to find ways to stand out.

Here are some tips to help you jump-start your e-commerce business:


12 tips to start selling online

1. Get up to speed on online business laws

If you are serious about your e-commerce business, you ought to learn about the laws regarding your online business. 

Each country has its e-commerce laws, hence, it is in your best interests to check them out. You do not want any untoward hiccups along the way, so manage all legal details from the get-go. 

Also, look into any licenses and permits you need and which legal structure and entity make most business sense to you.  

2. Look into the e-commerce business model types

Before hopping onto the e-commerce bandwagon, take some time to evaluate some of the popular types of business models available:

  • B2C e-commerce store: Sell products online; you usually have to keep inventory, manage them, and ship. However, you get a higher profit margin.
  • Dropshipping: Sell goods that you do not keep in inventory. Forward the order to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer will take it from there. Fewer risks but low-profit margins. Low startup cost.
  • Affiliate: Sign up for an affiliate program and promote their products. You earn a commission for every sale done via your referral link. This model boasts a remarkably low startup cost.
  • Print on Demand: Sell customized products per order basis under your brand. You don’t pay the supplier anything until after a sale. Like dropshipping, the supplier handles everything after the sale. Low startup cost.

3. Find your place in e-commerce

Before selling online, you want to know your focus area. Identifying your niche is integral to your business startup, as it is the launch pad for many things to come. Knowing where you excel and your strengths are crucial to the success of your online business.

Also, check out if your niche is in an overly crowded area. You want to pick a less crowded spot with less competition to increase your chances of success. However, do not go where there’s no competition, as this may mean there’s no market, which does not bode well for you. So, strike the right balance to run a profitable e-commerce store. 

Also, consider the challenges of e-commerce to help you gain a more realistic perspective.

4. Find your target market

Take some time to look into your targeted audience. Ultimately, the personas matter as they are the ones buying from you. Knowing and understanding your ideal customer profile helps in your next step, which is identifying the products to sell. 

Know your targeted audience’s pain points and purchasing triggers. Know what they need now and possibly in the future. Hence, you require demographics (age, gender, income, and others) and psychographics (beliefs, principles, interests, and others) data to help you gain such valuable insight. 

5. Check out your competition

Knowing who you’re up against is essential to shaping your online business. Studying your competition helps you single out your unique selling points to help differentiate you from them. Then you ‘megaphone’ your unique selling points to make you stand out among the crowd. Also, you can leverage their strengths to make you better and identify their weaknesses to make you stronger. 

For example, what will you do when facing lots of abandoned carts? Look into what your competitors are doing, especially when they have locked in tons of sales with a minimal number of abandoned carts. Then, implement what is relevant to you to help with this problem.

6. Put a microscope on your products

Many factors motivate a seller when choosing the first product to sell online. While most want to fill in a need in the marketplace, some target a smaller niche market, and others follow their hearts. Whatever it is, consider checking out if there is a relevant market trend that can make you a pioneer in the market early on.

Recognize market trends via social listening, monitoring search trends, and researching other e-commerce websites. Do not forget the customer reviews, as these provide valuable insight into your buyers’ mindsets. Generally, there are three categories that you can explore: 

  • Physical goods
  • Digital products 
  • Services / Subscriptions

Before deciding, you must evaluate the product viability thoroughly and carefully. After all, you must know your product enough to be the subject matter expert so you can convince people to buy. Also, validate if the product has a potential market. It will be like catching the water with a sieve if you don’t. 

We can see a clear example of this from Daren Low, owner of the online optical store Mouqy Eyewear, as he shares his experience. “Selecting eyewear is personal and subjective. However, oversized square frames are one of the most trending frames for women in 2022.” That statement is a singular testament to directional growth stemming from a data trend.

7. How best to source your products

Once you have identified the products you want to sell, you need to iron out the best means to source them:

  • Make them yourself: You have control over everything from sourcing the ingredients to making them to shipping. Your profit is all for yourself. 
  • Outsource to a manufacturer: Do so only if you project orders that come in bulk. Be careful as you have to cover the costs of these ‘potential’ large orders.
  • Purchase wholesale and resell at a higher price: The manufacturer sets the markup, and you do not have control over the pricing.
  • Dropship: As mentioned, you do not need to be concerned with the inventory. Pass on any orders to the supplier. 

8. Draft a business charter

A business plan is imperative as it serves as a solid reference and roadmap that glues everything together. You’ll need one when you require investors. Keep it concise but detailed enough to get the relevant points across. 

Include everything about your business – products, business, and operations model, market analysis, plans, and others. Don’t forget to include a section on security that covers the payment gateway. Running an e-commerce store without protection is like digging your own grave.   

9. Settle your business name and logo

Determine your business name and logo. Settle for a name that is appealing, catchy, and unique so that anyone can easily relate to your brand. Your business name and logo must set the correct tone for your store and stick to the hearts of your customers. Remember to check with the relevant authorities that the name you want is indeed one of its kind.  

Next is to register a corresponding business domain name; this will house your e-commerce store on the internet.

10. Establish your legal entity

The business entity you end up with depends on your business requirements and plans. In general, there are several legal structures:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • General partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporation

Each has its pros and cons, which you will need to evaluate to help you make a well-informed decision. You should seek legal consultation on this. 

Since you are already up to speed on the online business laws, you would already know other permits and licenses that your business requires. Although not all need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), you may consider getting one to differentiate your personal and business finances.  

11. Build your online store

Your e-commerce store is the face of your business 24/7 (akin to your physical storefront). Hence, creating your online store is a crucial step. In the past, the task of doing so was challenging at best. However, technological advancements have made this task so easy you can even get your store up within hours!

Getting it right at the beginning is key to ensuring your online store is up in no time with fewer hassles and headaches in the long run. Hence, don’t rush. 

Select your e-commerce platform

An essential step in this section is landing on the right e-commerce platform (technical backbone) to build and support your store, from adding products, and payment processing, to shipping.

Most come with website builders to help you customize and create your store. There are also responsive themes that you can consider to help design your website.

You can explore Shopify, a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform where you can create and host your e-commerce store, or WooCommerce, an open-source plugin used to convert your WordPress site into a fully functioning online store. 

While some may prefer not to use such online store builders due to the transaction fee charged per sale, they take up most of the effort to set up an online store so you can focus on building and growing your business. 

If you intend to bypass website builders and use a standard web host, ensure it’s reputable. A good web hosting company will always be able to advise you if a plan is suitable for your needs — if you speak with them.

“We rarely recommend shared hosting plans to e-commerce customers. VPS offers a much better advantage in performance and reliability – two crucial factors for the customer experience journey. Every technical advantage you can get will help, especially in a commercial environment,” said Dr. Haitham Dheyaa from Ultahost.

Build your product catalog

Once your store theme is in place, add products. Remember, your customers heavily rely on the visuals, so ensure they are of top-notch quality. Also, feature the products from various angles and different perspectives. Quality media assures your customers that they are buying correctly. 

Sellers often focus on listing out the features of the product. While this is understandable, ensure that you do so from the customer’s perspective. In other words, focus on how your product benefits the customers. Take time to get your images and descriptions correct. Also, accuracy is essential. Nobody will return if your information is misleading or false. 

Set the price and manage shipping

Getting the price correct has always been the trickiest part. That said, it is not impossible. You rely on your initial research and market analysis to confirm the best product pricing. Also, speedily getting your products to your customers is crucial. Nobody will return if you take months to reach them.

Don’t forget that free shipping is the number one motivator to get your customers to press that ‘Purchase’ button. 

Also, customers will ask for a refund if they receive damaged goods. Ensure that your products are well-wrapped and secured tightly. Kok Weng, the co-founder of Enko Products, remarks, “You may find bubble wraps fun to pop for relaxation or amusement, but they are useful to provide that much-needed cushioning to prevent damage during transport.”

Do a test-run

Run tests to ensure your e-commerce store is functioning as it should. For example, if the product pricing is $39, the end calculation should reflect the correct $39.

Also, consider running user acceptance tests to check the aesthetics across all devices and your store’s resilience. Fix anything, if any.

11. Launch your store

Your e-commerce store is ready, and engines are roaring to launch. 

However, to go live, you will need a web hosting solution. There are many types of web hosting solutions that you can consider to have an online presence. However, if you use Shopify, you do not need to purchase a web hosting solution separately since it is self-hosted. If your e-commerce platform is not self-hosted, look into a web hosting solution. 

If you are starting and your store is small, you can look into shared hosting (share resources with others on the same server). However, if you foresee a quick uptake, VPS hosting (‘dedicated’ resources although residing in the same server with others) may be your better bet.

12. Market your e-commerce store

Congratulations! Your e-commerce business is up and running. However, not many are aware of the presence of your online store.

Hence, you will need to craft a suitable marketing strategy to promote your e-commerce store to increase its reach. You have your targeted audience.

So, create new content regularly that surrounds them and use strategic keywords. Your website must be SEO-friendly to enjoy high rankings in search engines for greater visibility. 

Leverage multiple channels to extend your reach — social media, create affiliate programs, email marketing, paid ads, and influencer marketing. As time progresses, consistently analyze your marketing effort and tweak accordingly for optimum results.

Also, consider using marketing tools such as NovoChat, a chat marketing solution for e-commerce businesses. Their WhatsApp automation and broadcast messaging features bring you closer to your customers, expand your reach, and enhance customer support. 

A simple reminder via WhatApp messages on incomplete orders, updating customers on shipping, and others can do wonders to retain your customers. Also, Novochat’s WhatsApp automation provides valuable information by tracking the necessary metrics for a deeper insight into your marketing effort.

The bottom line

If you’re still hesitant to get your e-commerce business up, don’t be. Starting and running an e-commerce store need not be pricey and overwhelming.

Take your time and follow through with the steps above; they may seem like a lot, but once you get into action, they are not that difficult.

Once your e-commerce business is running and profitable, your effort will all be worthwhile.

Try NovoChat for free! 🚀

An e-commerce chat marketing platform to grow your sales. 

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