The internet is rewiring the Australian economy and allowing businesses to sell their products and services online to a wider audience in a global marketplace where Australians spent $15.6 billion on online retail shopping alone.
This rewiring is being fueled by anywhere, anytime buying habits being made possible through mobile devices such as smart mobile phones and internet enabled tablets.
There are to main ways to sell online through:
- Online stores
- Online marketplaces
Online stores allow people to view and buy products online which are then delivered to the buyer’s home or workplace through the post or by courier.
Successful online stores offer easy to navigate websites which have images, descriptions and reviews of the products on offer.
Buying online needs to be simple, so having an e-commerce faculty which allows people to pay immediately, either using a credit card or Paypal, is very important.
Buyers also want to know how quickly they will be receiving their goods. And if they are not happy with their purchase, they want to know that they can simply return the items for exchange or refund, so displaying a ‘returns policy’ or ‘warranty’ increases buyers’ confidence to buy from an online store.
Which online store?
An online store is made possible through e-commerce software which is housed on a server which is connected to the internet and has been developed to either function:
- Solely as an online store, or
- As a plug-in to an existing website
Online stores can be pre-built online platforms which allow you to populate the existing templates with your own images and information. The theme of the site can be customised to match your business’s branding. One such online store platform is Shopify.
Alternatively, if you already have an existing website, such as a WordPress business website, you can use a plug-in or add additional software which functions like an online store and is integrated into your existing website. One such software is Woocommerce.
Online marketplaces act similar to a real marketplace where a website is set up by a third party organisation or group and then
businesses ‘hire’ a space within the website alongside other businesses to sell their products.
The advantage of having a business presence in an online marketplace is that the people organising and managing the online marketplace do the marketing to attract large groups of people to ‘browse’ their site.
They also usually offer in-built e-commerce facilitates which means lower set up costs for your business to get started selling online.
The disadvantages, however, of selling online in an online marketplace is that the way you run your online store is governed by the overarching organisation or group who have set up the online marketplace website. You will also need to pay a commission or fees to be a part of the site.
For more information about how to sell in online marketplaces review the Victorian Government’s “How to sell in online marketplaces”.
Which online marketplace?
To get a feel for which online marketplace might be good for your business, let’s investigate three different types:
Online marketplaces set up for selling things – eBay is perhaps the biggest online marketplace which allows people from all over the world to auction and/or sell products within its website. eBay’s customer rating and feedback system ensures that dodgy business practice are soon revealed through poor reviews. This helps consumers feel more confident to buy from someone they have never seen or dealt with before.
Online marketplaces set up for selling things and sharing information – Gumtree is a popular an online marketplace which functions similarly to eBay, but also allows different types of classified ads, such as notifications and job vacancies, to be hosted . As Gumtree is more of a community focussed online marketplace, Gumtree doesn’t charge any fees if the product is a ‘give-away’ or is free.
Online marketplaces set up for hosting events or courses – Eventbrite is an online ticketing service that allows businesses to sell “tickets” to events like workshops, festivals and show. Like the other two sites, Eventbrite also brings potential customers to its various events pages through its search functionality on the site, and directly through it email marketing to users according to their previous bookings through Eventbrite.
Increasing your business’s revenue by selling online is a sure way of growing your business.
Setting up to sell online can be simple and quick or very time consuming and potentially costly depending on where you decide to do it.
Want to learn more about how to grow your business online?
Join Allison Miller of Digital Capability at the “Choosing the right website developer / SEO person” workshop being run in association with Eastside Business Enterprise Centre at the Campbelltown Library (IT Suite) (Adelaide, South Australia) next Wednesday 18 February from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm.
Learn what is important about planning your website so to avoid the costly mistake of not getting what you need, and find out what information you need when contracting the right website developer/SEO person to ensure you get what you want from your website.
Contact us now to kick start your business online through our “Be Ahead of the Pack” E-business Coaching and Mentoring Services.