Once you know what is selling and how to export, the bigger question becomes, how do you sell products online to an international market? The Internet is the obvious way to reach a global market and start selling without needing millions in advertising budgets through traditional advertising. Our simple guide below explains the basics of getting your website online and key points to marketing.
How To Sell Online
That idea that began in your head, you acted on, you’ve found a way to take it and turn it into a reality. Congratulations indeed, you are part of the minority. For many, taking the risk, working that hard, probably your current job in the day, then getting home and working another shift on your own company is too much for the majority. Putting up your own money to finance your new company, keeping the motivation and drive can be difficult but you’ve not given up, what you’ve achieved is admirable and you’ve proven yourself braver than most.
You’ve achieved so much, you’ve sourced or are manufacturing your products, importing them to your warehouse and now you need to start selling online.
Selling is not rocket science, you have to sell your products at a higher price than you buy them. However, especially in this day and age where competition is fierce, it’s easier said than done. It’s not easy but you already know that coming this far. You’re obviously up for the challenge. Selling globally is something that we can all do these days thanks to the Internet. That idea of making money and taking orders while you sleep is reality, potential customers can find your site any time of the day, enter their credit card details and buy your products.
Buy A Domain
Before you can think about selling any products, a domain name is where it all starts online – www.mysite.com. Registering one is easy enough, go over to Go Daddy, search for your name and register it. Two quick tips:
1. Think about registering a domain name with your main keyword in it can help with rankings. You can register two names, one being your company name and the other more keyword friendly. You can promote your company domain on business cards, letterheads etc. but promote the keyword rich one within Google and online.
Don’t overdo the keywords though, keep it simple as even a small business still has to look professional.
2. The longer you buy the domain for, it could help your ranking in Google. Google ranks websites on many hundreds of points so buying a domain for 10 years won’t get you to the top on it’s own but it’s something that Google does measure.
Google’s logic is simple, if you spend the money to register it for a long period of time, you plan on being around, opposed to someone who is taking it year by year.
Your Ecommerce Website
These days you can build yourself a website with an online store builder. Years ago this used to be an expensive and time consuming project but now it’s really become much more simple.
There are “open source” free ecommerce platforms out there for your new online business which will of course include a shopping cart, the most common being WordPress. You’ll need a little tech knowledge but there are so many free tutorials on Google for WordPress that at every step you’ll be able to fall back on some video help.
Magento is a second step up, more powerful as a ecommerce platform but you’ll need more tech knowledge.
Shopify is an option as somewhere you can setup shop quickly and easily but doesn’t give you all the control you may find you need.
WordPress may well be the best place to start. It used to be that you had to find a designer that would create your design then a coder to implement that design. Now you can simply go to a site like Template Monster and search for WordPress templates. Buy one, grab some hosting and install.
That is a little tricky and will take some time but here’s a quick guide on how to start . Check out Woocommerce as this is what you’ll need to install to actually run the ecomm side of your site but these days with a little study it’s entirely possible to create your own online store.
Selling Products Online
The temptation when building your shiny new website is to put everything you can think of in it. There’s literally thousands of free plugins and features you can add. Best advice, keep your own ecommerce website simple.
The advent of the internet has made us much less patient. If we can’t find what we’re looking for in a few seconds, we hit the back button and bounce off the site. The same will be true of your website; your competition is one click away. Keep things simple, clear, to the point and quick.
Search For It And Make It Snappy
A major part of online ecommerce is including a site search or a product search, especially if your site has many pages and/or products. Allow people to find what they want quickly. Quick being another key point for Google, as something else it looks for in the site speed.
If your site take a long time to load, Google penalises you. “Long” on the internet is measured in seconds. So keep your site light and make sure it loads quickly, especially on mobile as I’m sure you know, most of us access the web through our mobiles more than desktop now.
We’ve become especially impatient with the rise of the internet so make sure that if you really want to sell products online, your site and all pages load quickly.
Credit Card Required
In order to make money, you’re going to have to take money. So obviously credit card payments are a necessity.
The latest and greatest way to do this in our opinion is with a company called Stripe, the best service for online selling sites. Their payment processing is fast, easy to integrate, their customer service is excellent and fees are very reasonable.
The way Stripe make their money is for each transaction they process, they take a small percentage. Once the transaction is approved and in your Stripe account, they’ll automatically send the money to your bank account however many times per month you set in your Stripe account.
This could be once a month, once a week or even every day if you need that for your cashflow. They offer WordPress plugins to make it even more easy to integrate into your website.
The other alternative that’s been around for a long time is PayPal. PayPal isn’t as slick as Stripe and probably needs some updating but for those that have a PayPal account (and there are many that do), this can be a convenient way to pay.
PayPal allow users to enter their card details into their account and when they want to make a payment for a product, if they can pay by PayPal, they simply need to login and select that payment method.
The advantage to the user is that they don’t have to go and get their credit card and enter the details because it’s already setup.
Our advice is to have both available on your website so your customer can choose the most convenient payment method for them.
Speak Their Language
We all want to sell products online globally to clients worldwide but remember you’re going to have to speak to them. Translations of the site will be needed.
You can try and sell to Spain in English but your sales will inevitably be stronger if you sell in Spanish. You’ll also have to consider what you’ll do if you have a Spanish customer that has an issue and can only talk in Spanish, a problem if you only speak English.
Customer Service Will Sell Products Online
One of the biggest lessons in knowing how to sell products online, can and should be learned from Zappos. Zappos has sold a billion dollars worth of shoes so if there’s anyone to learn from, it’s these guys. Customer service wins loyalty. When we call a company, we want to speak to a human, we don’t want to dial more numbers to get there, we want a response quickly.
If we have a problem or a complaint, make it right. The best way of keeping customers loyal is to deal with problems and issues, quickly and to fix the problem. We all understand that there are problems in life, it’s how you correct them that can make a disgruntled customer, a happy and forever loyal customer.
Make that happen. Have a read on Forbes about Zappos customer service. This is something that needs to be in place from the very beginning and should not be outsourced. No one outside of your company is ever going to care as much as you.
Install Google Analytics on your site, it’s free. Setup goals and study the data. Without knowing what your audience is looking at on your site, what’s working, what’s not working, you won’t be able to progress. Analytics offers a wealth of information for you to study. Without using this, you’re blind.
Selling products online successfully means analysing data. Where are your users coming from, how long do they stay on the site, what are your most popular pages? You’ll need to study these metrics and keep refining until you have good conversion rates.
Where’s The Traffic?
After all this, you may find yourself wondering why you’re not getting any traffic or sales. Well, there’s around 645 million websites online today. How are people going to find yours if you don’t tell them about it? Means more work but we already know you’re not scared of that! Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.
Getting a high ranking in Google is what we all want but it’s no easy task. It takes time and a lot of work. A quick way to Google is using Adwords. Pay to appear at the top of Google. Yes it means you have to find more funds but it’s a quick way to get off the ground. The other advantage is that it will give you an idea of traffic, whether your site is working well, if you have customers calling you you’ll understand their needs better.
WordPress is actually a blogging platform so use it. Create blogs that are interesting and relevant to people. I hope you are finding this blog useful and that you’re benefiting from the information. The next post I write, you will hopefully be interested in and continue to read. Over time, I hope you’ll become a loyal follower and share the information I’m writing about with others that will find it useful. The same applies to whatever you’re doing.
Don’t write blogs where you’re simply trying to get people to buy what you’re selling, drive people to your site with interesting and relevant content, then they may visit your site and look deeper, perhaps taking the plunge and buying something.
For example, if you sell cakes, don’t just try and sell your cakes on your blog. You can write recipes, make a few videos of how to make the best brownies at home, what are some of the best ingredients to use in cakes, what are your favorite cakes, whats the best cake tin…you get the idea. These subjects will be more interesting and if you post them out on social media, may get a lot more interest than, “Please Buy My Great Cakes”.
Once you’ve written those great blogs or created a few great videos, send them out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and all the networks. Use hashtags to gain more exposure.
The main thing to remember is not to get bored and give up. Blogging and gaining traffic takes time, you need to think of this as a 12 – 18 month project, it won’t happen over night. Be consistent and you’ll get there.
Sell Products Online With a Piggyback
Another idea is to use sites that allow you to sell but take a commission. This may not work for you if you’re working off tight commissions but in the long term it can still work, so consider it. Sites like Not On The High Street, Etsy and even Amazon and Ebay can really work to springboard some product awareness.
By adding your products to these, you’ll have to pay a commission on sales but you’re products may start to get exposure and any sales, means you’ll have the details of that customer to market to in future. Rather than looking at it as a commission on sales, you could look at it as paying to gain the customer.
Last point is to make sure you’re creating an email list of users. It’s an old form of marketing now but it’s still effective. It’s easier to sell products online to people that have shown an interest in what you’re offering and made an effort for you to keep in touch with them.
Offer something for free on you’re site, a discount, an ebook, a free cake! Get the user to leave their email and you’ll be able to keep them up to date with new products, discounts and other exciting bits and pieces!
Creating your website, marketing and learning to sell products online is it’s own is a full time job so eventually, once your online business really takes off you may find yourself needing at least one dedicated person to working on this.
Nothing tends to happen quickly when it comes to the web either, there are so many platforms and browsers that to get a website to work on everything can take some fiddling and therefore time.
Make an overall plan for your website and stick to that and get it launched. You can and will continue to tweak it after that until you find the recipe that works for you. Perseverance is what will be needed so don’t give up and be ready for the long term game.
I hope this information helps get you off the ground towards finding your global market place and if it did, perhaps share it with others! (See what I did there?!)