If you’re in the business of selling products (even if primarily in the physical world), there really is no excuse for you to not have an online presence. This is regardless of whether you are an established brick-and-mortar business with years of sales experience or if you’re a part time retailer working out of the back of your garage.
Having your products displayed online is necessary because
- It helps you interact with a much wider audience and even have a global reach.
- You can set up your own social media channels in a few hours and the rest in a few days.
- Your customers can access your store at times that are convenient to them and at places that they already are.
- It complements your presence in the physical world to maximize sales.
- It is one of the more cost effective ways to get additional marketing and exposure for your brand.
These seemingly small gains are especially important when you are a small retailer and do not have access to the massive budgets that large multinational corporates can freely employ on marketing.
There are many options available to sell your products online or even just to channel traffic to increase sales offline
- Use social media to build brand awareness and direct traffic to offline stores
- List on a marketplace like Flipkart/Snapdeal/Myntra/Ebay/Amazon
- Build your own website with shopping cart facilities from scratch
- Utilise custom built templates or platforms already available to create your own e-commerce store
- Hire a professional to build your website (maintenance problem)
Whether you have just one product with multiple SKUs or multiple products it is beneficial and worthwhile to build your own channels. This is especially true if you already have a loyal fan following or if your strategy involves creating a strong brand for your products.
However, many businesses still don’t even have a social media account for their commercial enterprise. This simple to set-up and easy to use should undoubtedly be the low hanging fruit that is first targeted. Once this is tackled the next steps tend to become a little fuzzy. Is it better to sell on an online marketplace or is it more worthwhile to have your own personal platform? If you are going to create your own personal platform should you take the time to figure out how to do it yourself or is it better to use readymade solutions available out there? I will tackle the pros and cons of each strategy, along with the tradeoffs in further posts.
At the very minimum it is worthwhile to have your own website in addition to just a Facebook or other social media account. Having your own online sales channel along with this, whether through a shopping cart on your website or an entire online store by itself will be a great value add.
Once you do go online you don’t need to be restricted to just one channel. Selling through your own e-commerce store doesn’t mean that you cannot also sell your products through a marketplace to reap the benefits of both; Nor are you restricted to listing in only one marketplace. Many successful retailers, especially the larger ones, prefer to be involved in multiple channels. However, each additional route takes time, money and energy to understand its processes and maintain it. What is important is that you take the time to consider the options available and formulate a strategy that works the best for YOUR requirements. I will tackle the pros and cons of each strategy, along with the tradeoffs in further posts.