How to Start Selling Online

So you have a business idea. You’ve either got a product or you’ve found one, and you want to start selling it online. Where do you start? We created a simple guide to help you do so.

Have a Product

Central to your new business is the product or service. You either come up with your own idea or you can find an existing product that is already being manufactured using a platform such as Alibaba. Start brainstorming:

  • Where will you sell it?
  • Who will buy it?
  • At what price?
  • Who are my competitors?
  • What is my USP?

Define your goal

Understand what it is that you are trying to achieve. Create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic Target/Time) objective. For example, you may wish to say, I want a minimum of 1000 website hits per week in three months time. Having a clearly defined goal allows you to understand and focus your efforts. Otherwise you are wasting resources on marketing techniques that won’t help you hit your goal. Remember when defining a goal:

  • Make it a SMART Objective
  • Keep it realistic but ambitious
  • Create a stretch target
  • Do some research before creating this goal

Understand your customer

Develop a persona for your ideal customer. What’s their profession, how old are they? Understand their likes, dislikes and interests. Pinpointing a persona allows you to target your marketing activities towards a particular customer improving efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing activities. Identify:

  • What gender are they?
  • How old are they?
  • What do they do for a living
  • What are their interests?

Create a pre-launch list

Before you open your store, create a landing page and gather email addresses. Collecting these email addresses are helpful for feedback on your product and also offers a customer base even before you’ve launched the product.
You can incentivize these customers in a variety of ways:

  • You can retarget them using Facebook Adverts
  • Give them exclusive offers (such as a competition)
  • Offer incentives for promoting the product via social media to raise awareness

Develop your product

If you’re using an existing product, it may be difficult to make alterations. However, if you're the inventor of your product, this is the perfect time (although it should be a continuous process) to continue enhancing and developing your product. Continue requesting feedback from your ideal customers and watch your competitors. Remember TS Eliot once said, ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal.’ Think about these as you develop your product:

  • How do you emphasise your USP?
  • What need am I filling?
  • What do my customers dislike about my product?

Start Raising Awareness

Paul Graham, one of the world’s most sucsessful investors, wrote an excellent article called ‘Doing Things That Don’t Scale’ (http://paulgraham.com/ds.html) about generating awareness around a new brand. At this stage you should try and manually get people to your website. Some of these include:

  • Cold email potential customers
  • Contact press / Media
  • Start putting together a team
  • Test, test, test your product
  • Learn everything about the industry for your product

Prepare Your Launch

One common mistake that many entrepreneurs make is that they think having a launch event will instantly create massive, permanent traffic flocking to their business. Unfortunately that normally isn’t the case. However, here’s some steps to take when getting ready for launch:

  • Ensure your website IS ready
  • Install an eCommerce solution
  • Test all facets of your site
  • Make sure all the copy is correct
  • Ensure your branding is consistent

Post Launch

Once you’ve launched your product, you should perform a review on your product, your company and its processes. Evaluate what has worked, what hasn’t and how can it be improved. Maximise efficiency. Ask yourself:

  • What marketing techniques haven’t proved effective?
  • What techniques have proved to be effective?
  • Based on feedback received, does my product need to be improved?

You’ve developed your product, raised awareness of your new business, and your product has officially launched. However, no product and brand are ever perfect, and there is always room for improvement. Continue to evaluate and develop more products as your business develops. over time remember the basics and allow yourself to take some risks.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and we’d be more than happy to help.