Offline businesses can be very successful,
building up a loyal local following.
However, the internet offers a whole
new world of opportunity for business owners.
Now more than ever, consumers expect
your company to have an online presence –
regardless of your industry. And, increasingly,
it’s expected that your business will have an online store.
The benefits of selling your wares online are potentially vast.
By listing your products on the internet, you’re increasing
your potential customer base from local to global.
There are several ways to move your offline business
into the digital world. Here are some of the most popular
online retail services to help you make the step from physical to digital.
Etsy has three main categories for sellers – handmade, vintage, and craft supplies.
If your business falls into any one of those groups, then Etsy is potentially the site for you.
The fees are modest and straightforward: there’s no joining fee, it costs $0.20
to list each item (for 4 months, or until the product sells), and the site
takes just 3.5% of your earnings.
The competition on Etsy is tough. It goes without saying that your products
should be top-quality. However, in order to stand out from the other sellers,
you’ll also need to market your shop well. Your listings must be well-written
and informative. Craft your descriptions carefully – full sentences, with
correct grammar and spelling, are essential. Good photography is also important.
Try to provide several photos of each product – these must be well-lit and attractive.
Always strive to give excellent customer service – this will encourage customers
to buy from you again. Don’t renege on your shipping times, be polite and friendly
in your communications, and provide a personal touch in your parcels.
Unlike Etsy, Shopify’s pricing model works on a monthly basis. The cheapest package
costs just $20 a month, although more expensive options come with a variety of benefits.
These extra features – such as abandoned cart recovery and reduced transaction fees –
primarily improve the customer experience.
An e-commerce platform, Shopify allows users to create online stores, selling any
product imaginable. Merchants can securely accept payments from a wide variety
of credit card services, which is a big draw for potential customers.
Shopify is one of the best platforms available for merchants who lack technical skills.
Users can choose from over 100 existing templates to customise the look of
their stores, and the Shopify team takes care of all security issues.
PrestaShop is a free service, similar in many ways to Shopify. Again,
it’s possible to securely sell a variety of different products,
accepting payment from all major credit card services.
However, PrestaShop places heavy emphasis on its open-source nature.
An ideal platform for those with technical expertise, many of the
50,000 members use PHP to create their own themes and customisations.
With high-level SSL encryption, PrestaShop is one of the most secure
platforms available. The service has also been translated into 56
languages – perfect for the international retailer.
Like Etsy, Big Cartel also champions handmade products. However,
where Etsy is cute and kitschy, Big Cartel gets down to business.
Primarily used by t-shirt designers, bands and jewellery-makers,
Big Cartel offers four different packages – from a free taster
service to a $29.99 monthly fee. Although relatively cheap,
there are limitations to the service.
Big Cartel currently only supports payments through PayPal –
although this may change as the site grows in popularity.
Once you’ve chosen your online e-commerce platform, there are several
things to consider. It’s important to keep your online presence in line
with your offline branding – be sure to incorporate your company logo
and colours into your online store’s design. Don’t forget that customer
service and user experience are just as important online as offline.
You wouldn’t have a messy, cluttered shop – it’s important
to maintain these standards online.
This article was written by Mark Porter of Wholesale Clearance,
a bankrupt and surplus stock supplier.