Perhaps you have “the next big thing.” Maybe you own a successful brick-and-mortar retail store. Either way, you may be tempted to sell your products on the Internet.Before you dive off into that opportunity, you have to ask yourself five key questions. In this video, Eric Spellmann asks those questions and helps you determine if going online is the right decision for your store.
Note from Eric: Below, you will find a word-for-word transcript of this video. I provide this as an aid for the hearing-impaired and for those who might just want to read it rather than watch the video. This conversational style is not reflective of how I write. Be nice! Hi I’m Eric Spellmann with Spellmann & Associates. And today’s topic is gonna be Should I Sell My Products Online? This is a question I actually get quite a bit, from people who have stores and they wonder if the products which sell very well in their stores, will they actually do even better online? So before you pay any money for someone to build you a shopping cart or a website, watch this video.
First question we have to ask is what actually is selling online? Basically it’s a website with a shopping cart. Most websites are simply informational. You go there it’s almost like a brochure, you can get information, you can look things up. But when you add a shopping cart to it, that changes everything. A shopping cart is what enables people to put products into a grouping (called a cart) and then checkout securely with a Credit Card.
People pay online! Basically they order, they pay, you ship. It’s that simple.
So there are 5 key questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to put your products online. They are:- Can I take Credit or Debit Cards? In other words can you currently take them? Chances are if you already have a retail location, you can. Because most people take them. Keep in mind that on a website you must be able to do that. And if you’re not familiar with this, you have to have what’s called a Merchant Account. Typically, a Merchant Account is given to you or you can sign up through your bank wherever your business Checking Account is located. They can tell you exactly how to set one up. And no there is no time in this video to go over the exact process. So, talk to your banker and they can help you with that.
Second, are you willing to handle shipping? A lot of people wonder how are they going to handle that. It’s very simple these days. Back in the old days, it used to be more complicated. But today the 3 major shippers namely ups, FedEx and United States Postal Service all make it easy to handle shipping. So find out if you can even do that.
Decide whether your products are only gonna be in the USA or whether you’re gonna ship overseas. I’ll be honest. If you’re just starting out, I would recommend that you only ship in the US. Because while shipping is fairly easy to figure out anywhere in the 50 states, well outside it gets a little more weird. So, start in the US and you’ll be good to go from there.
Will I be online responsive? Now this is very important. Basically what it means is if someone contacts you, you’ve got to respond quickly. I tell people that if they’ve got to have an online store, then online certainly needs to be important to them, which means checking their email daily, if not multiple times per day. People on the internet expect 24 hour responses. If they submit a question about your product or a question about an order, they need to hear from you quickly. So if you’re not internet savvy, if you’re not used to sending email, be careful. Because in order to do this successfully, you will have to be comfortable communicating online.
What is your online return policy? Your in-store return policy may be one thing, but your online one will be different. You might go look at some of the policies of some other online stores, some of the larger ones and see what their policies are. That will give you an idea on how to put yours together. You don’t want a situation where you just randomly get some product back in the mail and it’s totally destroyed and you’re going to try to attempt to say “I’m not gonna refund you!” Without a policy, it becomes difficult.
Who are my online competitors? You need to do a little recon. You need to go on the internet, find companies that sell what you sell (if there are any) and look at their websites. Do some study what are they doing right, what are they doing wrong? Make a list. Before you ever pay anyone to build a website for you, go find out what other people are doing.
Can you handle a negative review? Because trust me, it will happen. Anyone who sells online is gonna run into that. One of the best ways to learn a little bit more about that believe it or not, and I know this is self promoting, is to watch my video “How to Generate User Reviews for Your Company” Because this answers all of those questions.
Well as always if you have any questions, go to my Facebook page. Go to my website ericspellmann.com and send me a message, I’d be happy to help you in any way I can. As I said, I am Eric Spellmann; I’ll see you in cyberspace.