Are you a brick-and-mortar business that isn't selling your products online? Do you have an online store but don't think you can expand your digital footprint? Ecommerce is a massive component of all online traffic, and if you aren't capitalizing on every online avenue, you are missing out on big opportunities for more sales.
Fortunately, the ways to build an online store or get your products on one of the big ecommerce vendors is easier now than ever before. There are several steps to follow to prepare your business to start selling on Amazon, eBay, and even big daily deals sites like Groupon. It may seem overwhelming to begin the process, but doing this work in the beginning will help create a process that you will need to get attention from shoppers as the generations progress and habits change.
Look at the infographic below to see how shopping habits are reflected across these generations and you'll see why you need to cast a wide net to maximize your ecommerce success.
(image from BigCommerce)
Preparing to Sell
Even if you've been doing ecommerce for a long time on your own site, there is a lot of preparation required to be seamless and successful selling through other vendors. You often have less control over how your items appear and are managed, so it's important to have your ducks in a row and have a full funnel view over every part of the selling process.
First and foremost, you need to have a handle on your entire inventory. Consider the following questions to understand how to manage it:
- Is it all in your business or do you get supply from a warehouse somewhere?
- If you're already selling online, what is your process for fulfilling orders, and will it be overwhelming to add orders from a variety of new vendors?
- How long does it take you to get a new product from the minute you order it to the time the truck pulls up in your parking lot?
- Are you sourcing the best boxes to ship your product in and minimizing the time it takes to pick and pack orders?
Choosing the Best Shipping
Next, consider your options for shipping. Do you offer a couple different options for sending products on your site, or do you have a flat rate? Have you shopped around to see what different carriers are offering to ship? How often are orders being picked up from your store or warehouse?
Getting answers to these questions are critical. From my own experience, I can assure you that nothing destroys your margins and dreams of ecommerce glory faster than finding out you actually need to pay double what you projected on shipping.
Owning Your Margins
Finding ways to aggressively price your products will earn you less, but ecommerce is made in pennies, dimes, and quarters. You want to move volume at the right price to make it worth your while and makes money for your vendors as well. Knowing how much it will cost you down to the cent to get a product from your factory when you order it all the way to the customer who buys it will provide you the framework to know what you can charge and how you can go to market with a competitive price and product.
Doing this work ahead of time will help you visualize the real opportunity you have with ecommerce vendors. There's a chance the numbers don't work, and it's better to know that sooner rather than later. But often there is a real chance to sell products, expand your customer base, and make some money. Before you even begin to start thinking about expanding to selling on Amazon or Groupon, you need to have good answers to all these questions. Once you have this information ready and your full funnel process ironed out, it's time to sell.
Selling with Ecommerce Vendors
Now let's look at some individual vendors and how each one handles ecommerce. There are many differences between ecommerce vendors and it's important to understand the major sites and how to sell on them. Companies often prefer to sell on their own site and skip the marketplace and daily deal vendors. But success today means going where the customers are, and more and more, they are on Amazon.
Amazon and Other Marketplace Sites
Getting your products on Amazon is as simple as creating a business profile, uploading your products, and managing sales. Much like your own ecommerce site, it just gives you a massive user base to reach, but obviously, the competition for views and sales is pretty high. Pricing your products aggressively and following Amazon's vendor guidelines to the letter are my best two pieces of advice. If you start getting dinged for bad customer service, sending incorrect or slow orders, or other questionable practices, Amazon will shut you down, and it can be difficult to get back in their good graces. Handle orders quickly and correctly, reach out to your account manager at Amazon, and you can see lots of great revenue roll in.
In addition to Amazon, sites like Jet, Wish, and OpenSky are growing and offering customers some more niche options for deals on consumer items. While Amazon is the big dog and needs to be your first priority, once you have the ecommerce machine built, it's easy to expand onto other sites, so don't be one and done.
Daily Deal Sites
Daily deal sites like Groupon and Choxi are different than marketplaces like Amazon. Here's where you put together your best price to give users a nice discount to encourage them to buy. Working closely with a buyer from a site like Groupon will help you understand the margins that each site expects, how they want you to handle shipping, how quickly orders need to be turned around, etc. Some deals go live for a matter of hours, some go as long as you'd like. There are a lot of small variables to finding daily deal success, and it's different for all kinds of vendors and products.
This is where having your process nailed down will come in handy. With these sites, you can move a ton of inventory very quickly, but you need to have hot products ready to go to convince the vendor to promote your product. The only thing worse than not getting a lot of order is getting a lot of orders and failing to fulfill them in a timely fashion. You don't want to reach new customers just to have them disappointed with you or your product.
There are tons of questions you need to find the answers to before you start pursuing ecommerce through Amazon and Groupon, but when you see the first glimpse of success from your efforts and start projecting how much extra profit and brand awareness you can achieve through ecommerce, a little work is worth it. By creating or streamlining these processes, you will not only build a structure for ecommerce success, but you'll find ways to improve current sales and cut out unnecessary costs. Doesn't that sound worthwhile? If you're interested in starting or expanding your ecommerce presence, talk to us here at Revenue River. We handle relationships with ecommerce platforms and vendors like Amazon and Groupon every day, so we'd love to help you design a blueprint for growth and take your web sales to the next level!