Bolton, Lancashire (PRWEB) July 31, 2013 -- Product and business research
You probably already have an idea of what you want to sell, search online for that product and see who is selling it and at what price.
Visit internet forums (that your potential customers and suppliers use) sign up, take part in the conversations and ask questions.
“From experience I would advise choosing products which aren’t readily available in the shops,” advises Dan Robinson, M. D. of the Bolton E Commerce Web Design Company, Vizcom Design.
As your business grows consider adding major brands (if they exist in your industry). There will generally be more competition on price for these items but people may buy these, along with the harder to get products you already sell.
Finding the right suppliers can be one of the hardest things to get right.
Many will stipulate that you have a retail premises and you may also be obliged to sell at R.R.P. (Recommended Retail Price)
Some suppliers will offer carriage paid (if your order is over a certain value) as well as early payment discounts, these incentives will all contribute to a better profit margin.
Be careful not to be ‘sold to’ by unscrupulous sales representatives that are trying to off load stock.
Some suppliers may drop-ship your orders, which is ideal.
“I would only consider selling goods with a decent profit margin (anything over 35%) unless you can ship them quickly, cheaply and in great quantity,” advises Dan lead designer at the Bolton based E Commerce web designers, Vizcom Design Limited.
Keyword research and company name
To date a domain which contains the description of the goods you are selling still has a positive effect on where your site ranks in the search engines.
Use Google keyword suggestion tool (which is free) to search for popular phrases which you could register as a domain name.
It’s important to check if the .co.uk and .com versions are available and it isn’t trademarked.
Use http://www.start.biz for a free search.
Examples of sites we’ve built which include search terms are Buy handbags online, Carp baits online and one which is almost finished Chesterfield leather sofas. The domain name for this site is chesterfieldleathersofas.co.uk but the site is branded with the company name The Chesterfield Leather Sofa Company.
You may already have a company name but this shouldn’t stop you from registering a more effective domain name and still branding the site with your company logo.
A good example of this is B & Q who use the domain name diy.com.
If you already have a well established site (which ranks well) then using your current domain may well be a better option.
Choosing a web designer
“This can prove really tricky as not every web designer understands search engine optimisation or E Commerce,” said Dan.
Search for suitable website designers, look at their sites and get in touch with the companies who they have built the sites for and ask for their opinion.
“It is key that your website appears trustworthy, once you have a design email it to your friends and ask them would they buy from this website? Make sure they are honest with you,” suggests Dan head of the Bolton E Commerce firm, Vizcom Design.
As the site is being built, email the link to your friends and if possible sit with them to see how easy they find it to navigate and buy.
Product listings and images
“You can add products manually but this can be very time consuming, some web developers (ourselves included) can upload these in a matter of hours (if they are provided in a spreadsheet format). Images can also be uploaded at the same time,” said Dan.
“You may want to add the brand name to the product title (if one exists) as this will help with product specific internet searches,” he added.
Check with your developer that SEO URLs are enabled as this will greatly increase the number of product specific enquiries.
Most of your suppliers will have images you can use.
“People tend not to buy goods without quality photographs or detailed product descriptions,” warned Dan.
"Nobody likes to pay for delivery and businesses like Amazon often have very low (or free delivery options) this makes it harder for smaller businesses to charge for shipping," warns Dan.
Choosing a flat delivery rate is an option or you could hide the delivery cost within the price of the product, the problem with this is that your products can appear more expensive than your competitors.
“I believe the best way to charge for delivery is by weight and area. Your site can have postage rates uploaded to it and as long as your product has a weight added (then dependent on which country the customer is from) the site will calculate the delivery cost,” recommends the Managing Director of Bolton based search engine optimisation company, Vizcom Design.
“You could be pleasantly surprised when you receive international orders so make sure your web developer includes these shipping rates too,” added Mr. Robinson.
Site content (text and images)
It is really important that your website contains lots of useful text and images, without it you will struggle to attract traffic from search engines and make sales.
“Google now penalises websites which contain duplicate content so make sure yours is unique and don’t just copy and paste text from your supplier’s websites,” said Dan head of Vizcom Design the Bolton SEO specialists.
Don’t try and write for search engines by including the search phrases where they don't fit and consider what your potential customers want to know.
“It is not as hard as you may think write original content, describe the products you sell, what colours or specifications they are available in, what brands are available and why the visitor should buy them from you,” added Mr Robinson head of the Bolton based search engine optimisation company, Vizcom.
“Paypal is a good starting point, as it is trusted and you don’t require a merchant account, a fee is taken (which is a percentage of every sale) so if your products are of high value you may want to consider another payment method,” said Dan.
“Once sales reach a higher level open a merchant account with your bank and sign up with a payment processor like Sage Pay. I would recommend leaving Paypal enabled as a payment option as many customers will still want to pay this way,” added Dan.
Other places to sell
Amazon’s charges can be off-putting but if there is a good profit margin in your products there can be advantages to selling here.
You will probably receive traffic to your site from people who want to buy direct, you aren’t taking a risk with payment as Amazon does that for you and if you sell products (which can be given as gifts) the weeks leading up to Christmas can be very profitable.
eBay is another very popular website which people generally trust.
To date an eBay shop costs £15 a month and can also result in lots of traffic to your website.
Fees can mount up so choose the basic selling options (if your products are of low value) to keep profits high.
If you sign up for a Google account and register your business with Google Places you may receive a Google Adwords voucher, this can be a great way to start advertising your site.
Be specific with your adverts; include costs and delivery so the person clicking your ad is left in no doubt what they are buying.
Be sure to link your advert directly to the product page the advert is promoting to maximise returns.
Banner advertising (advertising on other people’s websites) is another option worth considering.
Search for forums where your customers reside and enquire about advertising costs.
Adding leaflets with orders which offer repeat order discounts and promote other products is another effective way of generating sales.
Social Media and search engine optimisation
This is a huge subject which I will detail more in my next marketing tips release.
Initially I would recommend creating a Facebook page, Twitter account and Google Plus profile.
Tell your customers about your social media sites and encourage them to get involved by offering competitions, asking relevant questions and sharing helpful information.
Once your social media authority increases you will have a captive and interested audience to promote your products and help with market research.
“Along with many other factors ‘social signals’ (which are mentions of your website in Social Media) are now being used by search engines to determine where your site ranks. It is really important to maintain an active presence,” ended Dan.
Dan Robinson, Vizcom Design, http://www.vizcomdesign.co.uk/, 01204 383599, [email protected]