This article is the second in a series on Internet Marketing for Beginners. In the first article, I discussed setting a proper online goal. A website should either generate sales, leads, or support for an existing customer base.
This article will focus on the first goal: Generating Sales.
Some of you may think ALL websites should generate sales. However, in my opinion, only a few should consider that their goal. When I say, “generate sales,” I define that phrase as allowing someone to put a product in a “shopping cart” and paying for it online. The merchant has only to ship it at that point.
The majority of you don’t need a shopping cart. Basically, those who sell high-priced items or services rarely need a shopping cart. Examples would include realtors, repairmen, consultants, etc.
If, however, you do have a product people would buy online, keep reading. A site that generates sales must have some key ingredients to succeed.
First, decide WHAT you want to sell. Not all of your products may be appropriate to sell online. I tell customers to start with their top ten items that meet these two requirements:
1. Have the highest margin (you make the most money on them)
2. Easy to ship
Second, determine if you can compete price-wise online. If you make a custom product, that may not be a consideration. But, if you have many competitors, keep in mind that the average consumer views price as the only online discriminator in most cases. You might have better customer service, higher quality, and faster delivery. However, unless you are able to communicate those differences to potential buyers, they are more than likely going to view you as one of many “apples” in the competitive basket.
Finally, make sure you TRULY want to sell online. The process sounds like an easy road to riches. After all, you are extending your potential sales territory from a few miles to worldwide. However, running an online business takes a lot of work. If done right, you will be working with it daily. While an online store facilitates customers purchasing products from you 24/7, it will not handle complaints, billing questions, or even pack the products into boxes for shipping. That is YOUR job.
In future articles, I will cover how to choose a shopping cart vendor, increasing sales through social media, and how to effectively bundle products. But, next week, I jump into the SECOND goal of Internet Marketing: Generating Leads.
Eric Spellmann continues to be one of the highest rated speakers at our national America’s SBDC conferences. His unique view that small business websites should “do” something pushes against the standard “online pamphlet” view of most web design companies. He believes your customer’s websites should be driving qualified leads and sales on a weekly basis. Eric speaks at a number of other national and state conferences nationwide, but enjoys running one of the most successful web design companies in the country. He truly believes in the SBDC mission as it helped him start his own company many years ago. To contact him, visit his website at EricSpellmann.com.