The invention of the Internet started a causal spiral that eventually became the greatest equaliser of the modern world. This is even more self-evident for business ventures and startups. Anyone can sell, present, and advertise their products online with next to no money, at least in comparison to brick and mortar stores. And there's the problem in all of this; anybody can sell online; this means that you have virtually infinite competition from big businesses and other small businesses. Your product quality can be matched by other small businesses, whereas the bigger businesses will use their streamlined supply chains to offer products at heavily discounted prices.
Setting aside these conundrums, it is still profitable to have online selling for your business. We will tell you all the ins and outs you need to know to navigate the online marketplace.
1. Find a niche
What people need is what you sell. The nature of consumer demands is what defines what the supply will be.
- All businesses serve a niche; whether it's groceries, electronics, or furniture, it all slots into a single niche. Any startup needs to ascertain the vertical that they want to serve and upgrade and streamline its supply chain, marketing, and customer support to complement your business plans.
- Serving niches has always been a major rule of marketing and is even more contemporaneous to online business. Offline selling may allow for impulse sales, but that's uncommon on online portals, where algorithms and targeted searching will give you exactly what you want.
- As a consequence of that, the business also needs to market its product to particular needs and idiosyncrasies of your clientele. Keeping this in mind, online sales don't mean that there's only growth in niches.
- When you feel that you have had major success in your niche, take the initiative, and diversify into other fields. Ultimately if you manage to establish yourself as a trusted brand, you will be able to retain a customer base to further your ambitions.
2. Market Viability
With an established business idea, you must start sequestering research data on the viability of your product in marketplaces.
- From the vertical that you're going to serve to the packaging and shipping of the product, it all requires data-driven analysis.
- The marketplace that you sell your product in will have its own peculiarities, which, if needed, you might need to sidestep your way through and reach out to the customer.
- It might be a complicated user interface or a clunky payment system; you need to entice the customers enough for them to be able to disregard any mishaps to get to your product.
- Now in the background of it all, you also need to manage your shipping costs. A tiny increase in shipping weight at the individual item will be a pretty significant one at the shipment.
- Online sales mean that a person expects speedy delivery, and their product must be handled with care. One waylaid parcel, and your reputation will start spiralling downwards, but once you are able to become big enough, the cost-earning ratio will be much more impressive than offline sales.
3. Conduct market research
Little differences in the presentation and publication of your product can drive a customer to choose your product over another one, even at an increase in overall expenditure. This rarely happens out of luck; it is a result of meticulous market research and development.
- You need to know exactly what customers need, what they search for, and what they actually buy. These three might sound like a process, but they are different altogether, and if you're able to satisfy all three, you won't have any problems with selling your product down the line.
- Data regarding the criteria mentioned above is scrutinised and collected by E-commerce platforms and search engines. So while advertising your products, you need to use SEO methods to increase your search engine visibility.
- You should also be decisive in your choice of E-commerce platforms. You can either create your own or proceed with the already existing ones. Established e-commerce platforms offer market analytics, customer activity data, geographic market research, and a streamlined shipping mechanism.
- For any startup, they are the best bet and can create hype around your product through social media platforms and their own sites. Once you're off the ground, you may slowly move your business onto your own website and create a marketplace yourselves; However, that requires considerable clout to achieve.
- Our advice to startups - Start on bigger platforms, and when you have a large customer base, diversify to your own site.
You need to always be in the know of the tactics used by your competitors - what works and what doesn't - and improve on the shortcomings you observe in your business. Whether it be discounting, sales, or advertising, try and be a step ahead of your competitors.
Any startup must know everything about online retail laws - Shipping restrictions, zoning laws, market caps, and trademark considerations; Anomalous actions here will negate anything you invested time and money into previously and derail your business before it gets off the ground.
4. Scaling up
Congratulations. You've started a business; your products are on the market, you're complying with regulations, you are analysing market swings, you're turning to a profit. So, would you stop right there? Or is there room for growth?.
Scaling up a business isn't easy, but relative to starting from scratch it's manageable. Here are some things that you might do to increase your assets:--
- Use Online Marketing Strategies: Create blogs, host podcasts, or advertise on popular ones, hire social media influencers, and use your own social media to acquire new customers. Use Search Engine optimisation to boost your numbers. Email newsletters to customers and keep them updated on the latest launches and discounts. This also helps in keeping you in the customer's worldview.
- Omni Channeling: Sell on big e-commerce platforms, use analytics to target specific customer bases, cater to targeted products, and bundle them with other products to create hype. Use Launchpad features to further increase your visibility and better your chances for sales.
- Investment: Invest in social programs, donate to charities, and Human resources, advertising wisely is paramount. Instead of going guns blazing, you should try subtle marketing tactics to keep your products in the eyes of the consumers.
- Determine your resources: Keeping an inventory of your company's resources should take precedence. Your resources will determine what you're able to do as far as scaling up your company goes. You should have solid as well as liquid assets to increase your potential to grow.
Selling Online is a modern necessity, which has become more evident throughout the pandemic. Offline businesses struggled where online businesses thrived, even gained newer heights. Startups that took advantage of e-commerce platforms continued to grow, but the ones that worked with offline outlets had to pack their bags.
There are concerns about selling Online as a startup as it requires considerable capital; it will face gargantuan levels of competition. You compete with other small businesses and huge MNCs; it can go seriously wrong. However, that's true for offline sales as well; you need even larger capital, the competition certainly isn't non-existent, and then there are all the hazards that can befall any outlet, namely robbery, fires, and vandalism. Online business bypasses most of these while allowing for higher scalability, more room for improvement, lower labour requirements, lower maintenance costs, and lower vulnerability to disasters.
So if you are a startup, rise up and take the initiative to take your business online and grow like never before.
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