The pandemic has increased online sales potential. In 2020, the holiday season saw a sharp rise in online sales. Even through a difficult year, sales across the board were up over 8%. What does that mean for retail business owners? It means you should be prepared for plenty of shoppers both online and in person. Sales are expected to be up again this holiday season and that means you need to be prepared to meet the increased demand. Selling online can mean a huge increase in revenue for those who are ready. Here are seven tips to help you get ready to sell online.
Sell Online Using One of the Big Platforms
Get your items on one of the big well-established platforms. That means eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. These sites already reach millions of potential buyers around the globe. Their names are well-known, and they are many people’s go-to when they start looking. In fact, these sites already invest millions in advertising and support for the purpose of drawing all their traffic. They’ve already done most of the hard work for you.
Sell On Your Own Website
Even though you have your own on-premises storefront, it is worth it to invest in an online store. Consider tools like Shopify, Big Commerce, or Magento to set up an online store. These platforms are relatively simple to set up and maintain and they integrate with your inventory and accounting system. To earn the highest margins, direct customers to your site before the larger platforms like Amazon.
Set a Marketing Budget
Just putting your products on a website doesn’t guarantee site visitors. Larger platforms offer marketing tools, use them. If you are selling independently, consider investing in online advertising tools provided by Google, AdRoll, or Criteo to get traffic and potential buyers to your site.
Remember State Sales Taxes
A few years ago, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision allowing states to collect sales tax from online sales even if the store isn’t physically located in the state. Make sure to collect taxes from local jurisdictions and file the necessary forms. To uncomplicate this process, it’s worth it to invest in online sales tax platforms like Vertex and Avalara. These integrate with eCommerce platforms well.
Don’t think about online sales as if they are one-off. Collect data from every site visitor. Many business owners integrate coupon and loyalty applications like FiveStars, Cheetah, and LoyaltyPrime to encourage return visits. You may want to invest in a customer relationship management system to store visitor data. Use email and social media outlets to keep customers in the loop. Remember that selling to existing customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones.
Invest in Some Help
Unless you plan on spending all your waking hours towards selling online, you’ll need to invest in someone to do most of it for you. Depending on the size of your site and the number of sales, you may need to hire an employee part-time or full-time. You may explore the option of an independent contractor as setting up a site on amazon takes time and expertise. An eCommerce site also requires some specific knowledge and skills.
Prepare for Longevity
Don’t think of this transition as just a holiday campaign. You don’t want to spend this type of money or time on something that only lasts a few weeks each year. The pandemic may end soon, but it has served to accelerate the move to online commerce. Consider your investments as a long-term proposition. When done correctly, it can provide sustainable revenue.