How to make your first online sale

How to make your first online sale

If you’ve already set up your online store, congratulations! You’re ready to start selling. We’ve come up with a few ways for you to get your store out there and make your all-important first sale.  

Haven’t set up your store yet? Take a look at how easy it is!

So, whether it’s in real life, with social media and online communities, or through advertising, here are a few ideas to help make your first sale…

How to promote your eCommerce store in real life

Even though your store is online, there are lots of ways to share it offline too:

  • Friends and family – Once you’ve set up your online store, tell your friends and family about it. Ask them to spread the word and share it with their own personal and online networks.
  • Sign-written vehicle – A little unusual, but stick with us! This is especially good if you have a strong online presence – which you will do now your beautiful site is ready! Have your web address, unique hashtags or social media handles made into a sticker. Put it in the rear window of your vehicle and you’ll have an easy way to direct people to your online presence.
  • Physical presence – If there are local places where your ideal customers regularly hang out, why not drop off some flyers? Leave them there for people to find and they can navigate to your store in their own time.
  • Pass on printed material – If you’re already attending things like makers’ fairs, local events or marketplaces, have business cards printed. Include your store details and hand out cards when somebody makes a purchase. That way, customers can share your store with their own friends and family. Who knows, they might even come back online and make a repeat purchase!

Leverage the power of online communities and social media

It couldn’t be easier to share your store online. However you choose to connect, be genuine and make it easy for customers to find you.

  • Share a link to your store on social media – Once your site is set up, you can share it to your online channels directly from the store itself. Click the social buttons and off you go!
  • Keep a link to your store in your bio – Whether you’re an Instagram person, a Twitter devotee, or you’ve set a Facebook business page, the bio section is prime real estate. The text ‘about you’ at the top of the page is highly visible. Put your store link there. If people are looking at your social feeds and they like what they see, they can explore your eCommerce site with a click.
  • Online communities – Join small business groups or residents’ groups local to you. There are communities of makers, side hustlers and business owners across the internet. A small word of warning: be sure to genuinely engage. Often communities will have rules about when, or if, you can post promotional material. Not only will people remember you better if you’re genuine, you might find that the support of a community is valuable in its own right.
  • Write a blog – Your blog is a great place to keep your followers up to date with everything that you’ve been up to. Sharing your store on your blog can be particularly useful, especially if you’ve got an engaged following. So, let your readers know your store is ready for business!

Don’t be afraid of online advertising

It might sound scary, but don’t worry! With the tools available to small businesses today, it’s easy to start advertising.

  • Google ads – You can drive traffic to your store in a few simple steps. Land the right customers on your website with clever targeting or take people to whichever product page you want to promote.
  • Facebook ads – If your ideal customer is on Facebook, then Facebook’s targeted advertising allows you to reach them.
  • Competitions and giveaways – These are different to the structured advertising on platforms like Facebook or Google. Social posts, where you offer a giveaway or hold a competition can help raise awareness of your products. Even if your followers don’t win the competition, you will at least have made them aware of your store. And you never know… they may go on and buy from you anyway.

 A quick word on advertising…

The key thing to remember with any kind of advertising is to know your audience. Have a clear idea of the kind of people that buy from you, where they like to spend time, what appeals to them and what doesn’t. For example, don’t advertise on Google, if people won’t be searching for your products on a search engine. Or, if you know that the kind of people that buy your products don’t use Facebook, you’ll probably be disappointed if you advertise there. So, bear your audience in mind when you plan your advertising.  

Good luck with your new store…

We hope this blog is helpful; these are a few ideas to help you on your way to your very first sale. Remember to be creative and keep letting people know that your store’s ready and open for business.

Excited? So are we… 😄 🎉

Set up your store today! Register for a free 14-day trial and you’ll be one step closer to selling your products online…

How to overcome common obstacles to selling online

How to overcome common obstacles to selling online

Being able to satisfy your retail therapy needs from the comfort of your own home is one of the joys of the modern age. This is why having an online business is now of high importance: selling online reaches customers worldwide and thus your potential target market is endless. If you’re nervous about selling online then read on – we’ve shown you how to overcome some of the barriers to starting an ecommerce business.

You have visitors to your site but they’re not buying!

A problem with selling online is that you are setting an expectation for your product. This means customers cannot tell the quality or fit of your product until they have purchased it. If what you’re selling is highly-priced, then some may be worried about handing over their money to your business. 

However, offering free delivery to new customers or free returns is a great way to soothe these fears. According to research by Barclaycard, 47% of shoppers said they wouldn’t order an item if they had to pay for the return and 30% admitted to deliberately overbuying products, knowing they would return the unwanted items. Not only does this stress the importance of having a free returns scheme, but it also means you’re able to send out more products. Even if items are returned, your visibility is improved.

Similar products to yours are already sold online 

This one is a toughie, as whilst it shows your product is in high demand, it also means that there are a lot of other business competitors out there. However, don’t let this sway you away from online selling: offering discounts is a great way to draw in users to your site, as the consumer will often look for the most cost-effective item. 

Putting a time limit on your discount is also an effective solution, as it pushes the customer into making a decision about whether they want to try your product. If you make these discounts seasonal then it is likely that you will create returning customers, who can then improve your online visibility by leaving good customer reviews. 

Setting up an ecommerce site is too tricky

Whilst the internet may seem like a daunting prospect, it is important to remember that setting up an ecommerce website is not as difficult as it used to be. Nowadays, website builders like ours can do all the hard stuff for you, making that transition into selling online all the more smoother. Our free 14-day trial allows you to create a website in minutes, and even have extra ecommerce features if you do decide to take the leap. Give it a go today!

How to start selling things online

How to start selling things online

Have you been thinking of setting up an online shop but not sure where to start? We’re here to help, with a handy guide on what you need to think about before you take the plunge into e-commerce.

Decide on your niche 

This is the first hurdle – what are you going to sell, and who are you going to sell it to? It’s a good idea to start with your niche, or the area that you are interested in. Think of this as an area rather than a product; ‘gardening’ rather than ‘trowels,’ and be strategic in your choice. 

The best niches are ones that sell expensive products (£80-100 per product), that occupy a sector that is steadily growing in popularity and hasn’t already developed a lot of brand loyalty. Do your market research to get information on your competitors and understand how the industry functions. Most importantly, don’t go into a niche that you know nothing about!

Choose a business model

This depends on whether you are selling items that you have created yourself, or if you are going to use a supplier. If you are using a supplier, you can choose between dropshipping – where the supplier holds the stock – or holding your own products, where you have to pay for warehouse costs and packaging. 

Holding your own products that you’ve shipped in or selling your own unique handmade items gives you an advantage when you’re looking to create and grow a brand. You are in full control of the customer experience, so you can design your own packaging, send it yourself and handle returns and customer enquiries personally.

If you are a small, local business that is just starting to sell your own products, capitalise on your ability to make each item personal. Include hand-written notes thanking them for their purchase and asking them to follow you on social media, and make sure your customer service is both personable and competent. Creating a great customer experience makes it more likely for them to recommend your service to others.

Choose a supplier

You’ve got your niche, and a good idea of what you want to sell; but if you’re ordering in your products or materials, how do you choose what products to stock? Search the best-sellers in your niche on Amazon and Ebay to compare prices, and look to AliExpress and AliBaba for good supplier sites. If you don’t want to start shipping in products internationally and you don’t need a huge supply, do some research in your area to see if you can create any deals with local suppliers instead.

Create a website

Now you’ve got the foundations laid, it’s time to craft a beautiful website! Choose a domain name that aligns with your brand, upload your products and start advertising your site. Go Sitebuilder is one of the best ecommerce website builders, and offers a 14-day free trial where you can make an easy-to-use and professional website, even if you have no experience in web design!

How to effectively sell your product or service

How to effectively sell your product or service

You may know that you have an excellent product or service, but your potential customers don’t. So how can you show them – and persuade them – that you are a step above your competitors?

Tell me a story

Your potential customers aren’t interested in your product. They’re interested in the experience it gives them, or the solution it provides to a problem they have – your marketing should reflect that. Describe how it feels to use your product, or the difference it could make if it solves a long-standing problem. 

Look at car adverts, for example. The specifications are important, but they’re not what are going to make you remember a certain brand or model. Marketing for cars focuses on the driving experience, or how comfortable it is for a long road trip, not how large the engine capacity is or whether it takes diesel or petrol. 

That’s not to say specifications aren’t important, but they’re secondary; a customer will start looking at them only if they’re already interested in the product or service. Start with a story, and back it up with the credentials afterwards.

Audience is everything

Before even thinking about an effective strategy to sell your products or services, you need to consider your audience. What do they do, what do they need and why? How, when and where do they buy? Look at key trends within your target market, and adapt your marketing plan to match it. 

Once you get into the heads of your target audience, you can adapt your selling points accordingly. Remember that car advert? If you wanted to target young families, you could highlight the vehicle’s safety features, but if you’re wanting to attract young professionals, you’re more likely to focus on how stylish it is. 

Why you?

So, you’ve told a story that is perfectly aimed at your audience and you’ve backed it up with high-end specifications. Chances are, though, you won’t be the first person providing the same services and products as you do. Don’t ignore your competitors, because your potential customers won’t! You need to focus on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), or what makes you stand out from the crowd. What do you offer that your competitors don’t? Make sure this is clear; it could be the one thing that turns a browser into a customer.

And of course, make sure your products and services are presented beautifully on a professional-looking website. Go Sitebuilder offers a 14-day free trial and has specially designed ecommerce features – try them out today!

What online courses platform can I use to learn marketing strategies for ecommerce?

What online courses platform can I use to learn marketing strategies for ecommerce?

Having an ecommerce site allows you to keep an eye on analytics, which makes marketing strategies easier to design and implement…unless you’re a complete novice. If you’re setting up your online shop but haven’t the foggiest on how to make the most of it, then you can take a MOOC (massive online open course) to quickly learn the fundamentals. We’ve put together some of the best MOOC options. 

Udemy

Udemy is one of the largest MOOC platforms, and they have a great selection of courses on marketing strategies, with the most popular marketing courses ranging from £10-20. The price includes lifetime access to the course, so you can go back to brush up on your skills whenever you want, as well as a certificate upon completion. With a 30-day money back guarantee, they’re a great place to start, and they even have a marketing course quiz to help you choose which course is right for you!

Coursera

This is one of the largest providers of free courses out there, so if you’re on a budget, then this is the place to look! For most courses, you will have to pay extra if you want to get a verified certificate at the end, but you can view the course content free of charge and there is financial aid available if you need it. They offer a 7-day free trial to see if you like the extra features. 

EdX

EdX offers free courses from top universities and institutions. With most courses, you can access course content and discussion boards for free, but you won’t be able to view it after the course duration ends. The paid version includes lifetime access to course content as well as graded assessments and certification upon completion.

These are all general MOOC providers where you can search for marketing strategy courses, but some marketing specialist companies offer their own. Hootsuite, Hubspot Academy, and QuickSprout all offer specialised marketing courses that will give you pointers on how to increase revenue and attract more customers to your online shop. Universities also offer online courses (such as this one from University Arts London) but they’re often much more expensive than MOOCs. 

If you haven’t got your own website up and running yet, what are you waiting for? With Go Sitebuilder, you can have an ecommerce site online in just a few hours, with no experience needed. Try them out now with a 14-day free trial. 

How can I sell things fast?

How can I sell things fast?

Creating a successful ecommerce brand revolves around building trust and a loyal following, which doesn’t happen overnight. But if you do need to sell things quickly, we’ve put together a few tips to help you get your products off your hands! 

Price it right

First, look at products that are similar to yours on online marketplaces. On Ebay, you can refer to the “completed listings” section, which shows you what products have sold and how much they cost. This can help you evaluate both the demand for the product and the standard price. 

If speed is your priority, list the item for slightly less than other similar products, but be willing to negotiate, especially if you’re selling on an online marketplace. Everybody loves to get a good deal, so prepare to sell your product for 10-20% lower than the price you listed it. If you’re using your own ecommerce site, consider offering discount codes or having a sale section.

Description and pictures

When writing the copy for your product, think about what you would want to know if you were buying this item. If it’s second-hand, make sure to include what condition it is in and why you’re selling it, and as for any other product, include detailed specifications, any special features that will help it stand out, and what accessories come with the product. 

The pictures of the item can make or break a sale. Make sure they are clear and taken in good lighting, and if there are any issues, take a close up of these as well. This helps build trust and gives the customer a good idea of what they’re buying, whereas limited and poor-quality pictures make the product look worse than it is and suggest you might be hiding something. 

Sell more than one product at a time

If you really need to get rid of some stock, you can sell your products in ready-made packs that will encourage your potential customer to buy more than the one product they originally wanted.

Selling items quickly isn’t always easy, but if you follow these steps then you can give yourself a good chance to speed up sales on your products! If you want to try out some of these tips on your own website, check out Go Sitebuilder’s 14-day free trial and have a look at all of the extra features they offer for ecommerce sites.

How to choose the perfect domain name for ecommerce

How to choose the perfect domain name for ecommerce

Your domain name is the first time your users will connect with your brand, and it’s important that you get it right. We’ve put together some tips to help you create a memorable and unique domain name for your online store. 

Does it reflect your brand and product?

If you’ve already developed and established a brand name, then use this for your domain. If that isn’t available, brainstorm words related to your core brand and values that are relevant to your business, and think about your potential customers; does this evoke the concepts and feelings your business represents? If you’re not sure, show some examples to friends and ask them what they think the website is selling and what kind of brand it is – if it’s way off, consider changing it to make it clearer. 

Can you optimise it for SEO?

Including keywords in your domain name will help your site rank higher on search engines and be more visible to potential clients, so pick a name that is specific to your product. However, be aware that this could make your site sound generic (cottontshirts.com) and could also limit what you can offer in the future. You can also use the domain extension .store as it both shows that you’re an ecommerce brand and helps you get that keyword into your domain name.

Is it simple and easy to understand?

You want your domain to be unique, but also memorable. Keep it short (17 characters max) and avoid unnecessary characters, abbreviations and numbers. Avoid unusual spellings and make it easy to say out loud, as then it’s easier to remember. 

When you’re starting out, brainstorm lots of ideas! Choose 10 words that represent your brand personality and your product, and play with different variations until you find one that sounds right. Check if it’s available and remember to buy it quickly; there are bots that buy up domains that have been recently searched to sell that at a profit later. 

A domain name should represent you and your brand, but you need a high-quality website as well! Go Sitebuilder has ecommerce capability, personalised domain names and offers five email addresses with that domain. Try out their 14-day free trial, and use their pre-built themes and designs to create a website that your customers will love. 

Creating a website for selling products

Woman shopping online

With more and more people choosing to shop online, having a website where you can sell your products is an invaluable way to increase your customer base. But, with so much competition on the internet, priority should be given to how you create and design your eCommerce website if you want it to succeed.

Always put the user first

When creating a website for selling products, step into the mindset of your users. Think about what you sell and who your target audiences are. Once you know who your users are, you should create your site with them in mind. Every style element you choose, from the fonts, to the choice of colours, images and text should be considered based on who you are trying to target. For example, if you sell beauty or fashion products, you should pay attention to the visual aspects of the design, creating a fun or informal feel, whereas if you’re selling something like financial products, your website should take on a more formal and informative tone.

Responsive design is critical

Gone are the days when consumers only use their desktop computers for purchasing items online. These days, smartphones and tablets have taken over, as more and more people use a variety of devices for internet shopping. In order to create a good user-experience when selling your wares online, responsive web design is key. This is where your website will adapt to suit the particular device that it is being viewed on so that it is easy to browse, scroll and navigate.

Create an easy, secure shopping experience

Make the online shopping process as seamless and straightforward as possible. Use text and images to accompany each product and state the prices clearly. Include your terms and conditions, and use a payment system that is reliable, safe and secure.

Include testimonials

Adding customer reviews and testimonials to your website helps to give your brand credibility, and these can prove a really worthwhile selling strategy. Try to include the reviews next to each relevant product you sell so that they are easy to spot by potential customers.

Make contact details easily accessible

Online shoppers like the reassurance of knowing that if they need to get in touch with a website business, they can easily do so. Make sure your contact details are easy to find on your website and are up to date. Include a variety of options for contacting you, including phone, email and an address. Good customer service is crucial, so always respond promptly to any queries you receive.

Building an eCommerce website is easier than you think. Go Sitebuilder has been created and designed with busy small businesses in mind – discover how you can create an online site today.

How do you create an online store from scratch

Creating an online store from scratch

Selling online has never been easier. There are numerous routes to market that will allow you to have a successful and profitable career as an eCommerce business owner. To be successful, you need to start a store from scratch and for this, you need to think carefully. The more planning you do, the better it is for your business. So, here are a few quick steps for you to consider when starting your online store.

Choose a niche

The first thing you need to do is to select a niche market that you would like to sell into. This will have to align with the product you’re creating as well. It has to be something that you’re passionate about. Something that you could talk about all day. The more passion you have for your product, the easier it will be for you to sell it.

Choose the products

Some niches will have a wider selection than others. Or you might have developed your own products. It is important to aim for a profit margin of between 40-70% with the higher amount being better. Be sure to benchmark your pricing against your competitors to ensure you’re not overcharging. For instance, if you’re selling a product for £20 but everyone else is selling it for £10, then you might struggle to find customers.

Buy your domain

Next, you need to buy a domain name. This should be something that resembles the branding for your store, allowing you to build long-term relationships with customers. Having a domain name that represents your brand efficiently will help you with your marketing and in most cases is very cost-effective. Connect your domain/brand name to something that is meaningful. For instance, if you sell teddy bears, having this in the name or something to do with cuddles could be important. Go Sitebuilder offers a free domain name with every subscription.

Build your website

The next step is to build your website. You want to create several pages including pages for home, about, contact, terms and conditions, delivery and more. Building a website is very easy and you can get started for free with Go Sitebuilder.
Your website should be optimised for search engines and conversions to help you generate more revenue. However, you shouldn’t expect success straight away. While search engines may have some restrictions for new businesses within the first 6 months, this will allow you to put some time into other important areas such as perfecting your storefront and building out your launch plan.

Add your products

Now you need to add products. Products should have a great description and lots of high-quality images and videos to help them sell. You should also concentrate on writing descriptions that sell the benefits and not the features of your products.
Finally, always include a call-to-action in your product descriptions, encouraging visitors to buy your items.

Building a new eCommerce store is easy, especially with Go Sitebuilder. Discover how you can create an online site today for as little as the cost of a coffee a week.

How to take great product photos

Product photography tips

Following on from our blog on how to write great product descriptions, we’ve rounded up our top tips for taking great images to match. When you’re selling products online, it’s absolutely vital to show them off with professional-looking, accurate images. A well-taken set of photos will immediately instil trust in your customers and make them more likely to purchase. While descriptions are great for explaining the ins and outs of a product and winning over customers, 90% of the information we absorb is visual. More than that, 93% of consumers consider appearance to be the most important thing when making a decision!

Choose your camera

The good news is that you don’t need to splash out on a big, swanky camera to take great product photos! Most modern smartphones have great cameras these days – and if yours doesn’t, you probably know someone whose does, who’d be willing to let you use it for an afternoon in exchange for a cup of coffee/chat/evening of babysitting. For more tips, Hubspot have a great guide to taking good photos on your phone.

Name your images

Give your product twice as much chance of showing up in search results by giving it a relevant title. It’s unlikely that many people will search for ‘image123456.jpg’ – and if they do, they probably aren’t looking for your image! Use concise, clear terminology to help people to find you. This will also help search engines to index your image, as well as providing a backup description if your image doesn’t load for some reason.

Consistency is key

The key thing to consider is uniformity; always try and shoot your images in the same style. This will ensure that the customer has a clear idea of what the products look like, and make your online store front look really professional.

Pick your light

Avoid fluorescent overhead lighting – nobody looks good under this, and that goes for inanimate objects too! Natural light is normally a safe bet, so try to shoot in this wherever possible. The light changes dramatically throughout the day, so pick a time when you like the light and try to always shoot at around the same time.

Use multiple images

Just as you need to make sure your written descriptions help customers to really get an idea of your products, you should also include enough of the right images to help people get a feel for them. You’ve probably noticed that most online stores include product shots from multiple angles and this is why – the majority of customers need to know that they aren’t missing any details by not being in a physical store and seeing a product for themselves. This also applies to product variations: if you have a product in multiple colours or sizes, always show them all!

Give an idea of scale

Hopefully you’ve provided the technical specifications of your products, but unless your customers have a tape measure to hand, they might want a more tangible idea of how big something is. You can help by providing a point of comparison: if your product can be held in your hand, think about including a photo of this; if it’s designed to be worn, show it on a person; if it’s something you put in your home or garden, include a photo of it in situ. This will help your customers to make an informed decision and help you to avoid having to deal with complaints when a product arrives and is a different size from the one they were expecting!

Create professional backgrounds

You can create a sleek, uniform background for your products by taping a large sheet of white paper between the wall and the surface your products are on, to form a curve or sweep. This creates a really professional look, and gets rid of any annoying unwanted background marks or shadows!

If you keep these tips in mind and get into the habit of following them, you’ll be on your way to having an online store to rival the best of them! A little effort and consistency goes a long way, and will ensure that you’re never selling your products short. 

If you don’t have an online store yet, you’re in luck: a Go Sitebuilder subscription includes an online store (with unlimited product listings!) and much more – for less than the price of a coffee a week. Sign up for a free trial today and put your newfound product photography skills to use!