5 MIN. READ

How to Sell Online

All you need to know about selling products online. Here’s how to ace product development, marketing and growing your customer base.

Choosing which product to sell online

Selling online in Australia allows you to sell around the clock and reach a vast array of customers. Your products will naturally be the defining feature of your online store – so how do you choose or develop products that will stand out from the rest?

There are two product types to consider. These are:

1. Commoditised products, which are differentiated by competitive pricing. These products might sell more frequently, but typically with a lower profit margin.
2. Niche products, which are differentiated by their unique features or attributes. These products might sell less frequently, but typically with a higher profit margin.

Let’s consider coffee as an example. If a seller is planning to sell bulk freeze-dried coffee, they might plan to compete by price. If they’re selling organic fair-trade coffee with a distinctive aroma, these features could help their product stand out from the rest.

How do you know what products to sell online?

Selling a product online has some key differences to selling in a brick-and-mortar store, but the essentials are still the same. It’s always worth considering:

• The demand for your product choice
• What your profit margins will be, minus costs
• The competition for that product choice

In particular, consider products that are easy to package and ship. Products with a long shelf life can give you greater flexibility in when and how you sell them. It can also be savvy to look ahead and consider any new trending topics and products. If you can have the right product ready to sell at the right time, there could well be customers ready to buy!

You can sell almost anything online with a few sensible exceptions – head on over here to learn more about what you can sell on Amazon, for example.

Researching how customers buy online

Online customers can’t hold a product in their hands until after they’ve bought it, so it’s useful to understand how customers make their decisions when buying online. Take some time to explore competitor pages, best seller listings, and even how local buyers buy and sell online. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to provide an informative and appealing customer experience.

Pro tip: Amazon’s Seller University and the Learn section on sell.amazon.au offers a range of useful resources for selling products online.

Learn how to start selling >

Creating your buyer persona

As you choose what to sell, think about who will be buying those products. Understanding your customers and how they think, live and buy will help you to list and promote your products in a way that appeals directly to them.

Creating an ideal customer persona can help you stay consistent across your entire sales pipeline. Once you’ve considered what the age, location, interests and inspirations of your usual customer might be, it can become easier to craft messaging and advertising for these customers.

Developing and sourcing products to sell online

Once you’ve decided on a product or product range, it’s time to source or develop it.

• If you’re planning to be a reseller, you might work with third party manufacturers or wholesalers to source your products. Look for a reliable supplier that can supply consistent quantities and quality, to help your business grow.

• If you’re planning to develop your own products, you may also be developing your own brand. Amazon’s free Brand Registry service can help you protect your intellectual property and unlock useful selling tools.

Learn more about Brand Registry >

Presenting your products

Showcasing your products effectively online is just as important as it would be in a physical storefront. You can sell products online in a rich and multi-dimensional way using these essentials of any ecommerce store.

Writing product descriptions

A compelling product description is a must-have for every online product page. Ideally this description will answer any questions the buyer might have, even before they’ve asked them. Be sure to:

• Focus on the benefits for the buyer
• Explain how it can solve a common problem
• Clearly and accurately outline the key features of the product
• Add appeal with humour or personality, if this is appropriate for your brand

Visual presentation

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then high quality product images can speak volumes. You might take your own product photos with a quality smartphone camera and good lighting, or you might hire a professional photographer. Consider including:

• Medium-range photos that will clearly show the product in full
• Close-ups to indicate product quality, such as stitching or materials
• Action shots to show how easy the product is to use

If registered with Brand Registry on Amazon, you can also use Stores to create your very own virtual storefront. This is simple through the use of professional drag-and-drop templates, and you can add product videos and details to help boost customer interest.

Building an ecommerce business strategy

Your business plan helps to set out a clear path towards ecommerce success.

Here are some of the main steps to consider in your ecommerce business strategy:

• Establishing your ecommerce goals
• Outlining the strengths and weaknesses of any competition
• Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition
• Developing your buyer persona
• Choosing where you’ll sell products online
• Setting out your pricing strategy
• Planning logistics and fulfilment
• Optimising customer service
• Upselling, remarketing and cross-selling strategies to maximise sales

Unjumbling the jargon

A Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is a clear statement explaining what sets your product or online store apart. Following our previous coffee example, a USP could be:

• Your daily coffee at an unbeatable price
• Coffee that lets you travel the world in a cup
• A more ethical coffee experience
One crucial step in your strategy will be choosing where to sell your products. So what is the best way to sell products online?

Should you start your own website?

Running your own ecommerce website can give you control over both your sales and the look and feel of your online presence. There can be two key things to consider when creating your own website. They are:
1. How you’ll provide a secure, reliable checkout for your customers
2. How you’ll draw in online traffic and grow your customer base.

It’s for these two reasons that many online sellers look to a professional online store as they consider how to sell online.

Selling on Amazon

Amazon provides access to hundreds of millions’ of customers worldwide and provides powerful tools to help sellers list, promote, securely sell and ship their products. Many sellers choose to sell through their Amazon store as well as through their own website to maximise their sales and reach.

Learn about selling on Amazon >

The logistics of online selling

Picking, packing, shipping and returns can involve time and costs for every online seller, so be sure to factor these costs into your profit margins. You could choose to fulfil your online orders yourself, or save time using Fulfilment by Amazon and have our team store, pick, pack and ship some or all products for you. You can also choose to have Amazon fulfil your orders across multiple channels such as your website and Amazon store using Multi-Channel Fulfilment.

Learn about Fulfilment by Amazon >

Managing inventory

Inventory refers to the quantity of products you have in stock to sell at any one time. It’s important to manage your inventory effectively, as having too much stock can lead to extra storage costs – and not having enough could lead to orders for out-of-stock items!

Many inventory issues can be avoided in the first place by maintaining a reliable and steady inventory, replacing the products you’ve sold recently and planning for any seasonal fluctuations.

Local or global selling?

One important question will be whether you plan to sell within Australia or to global customers as well. While selling internationally may require some extra consideration around restrictions, compliance, taxes and logistics, it can also expand your reach to a much broader range of customers.

Read more about selling internationally >

Pricing strategy

The profitability of a product can shape your long-term success when selling online. There’s an ideal balance to be found between keeping prices competitive to maximise sales and maintaining a healthy profit margin.

When calculating your profit margin, be sure to factor in the costs of selling online in Australia including:

• Transaction fees
• Referral fees
• Costs for advertising & promotions
• Fulfilment costs

Learn about seller fees on Amazon >

Reaching and Retaining Customers Online

By forming and fostering positive customer relationships, you can inspire repeat purchases and build long-term customer loyalty. The customer relationship begins from the first moment a customer sees your product or online store, and it continues well after the sale is made. Here are a few of the important customer touchpoints for customer relationships.

Interacting on social media

There are so many ways you can interact with customers through social media. Paid social media marketing can be a great way to promote products in exciting and often interactive ways. Meanwhile, you can connect with followers through organic social interactions such as posts and stories.

When choosing the social platforms that you’ll dedicate time and resources to, consider where your customers might spend their time most.

Using SEO and search engine analytics

Search engines help customers to find the answers and goods they’re seeking. Ecommerce search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process of optimising your online store’s structure to improve the chances of it being seen in organic search results. This in turn may help increase traffic and conversions for an online store. While SEO research and content can be a complex topic in itself, at its core it’s all about making sure your products are as clearly described and as easy to find as possible. Steps such as including high-quality product descriptions and using relevant keywords could help to improve your SEO qualities.

You could use SEO analytics to better understand where your online customers are coming from, how they buy and how you can better reach them. By setting up ecommerce tracking for your online store, you could also monitor aspects such as conversion rates, cost per conversion and sales data.

Advertising your online products

Advertising is an expected investment for most online businesses, and even small ad spends can help improve the visibility of a product. Cost-per-click advertising helps you to show your products or store in highly visible placements. On Amazon this might include:

• Sponsored Products, which help to promote individual product listings
• Sponsored Brands, which showcase your brand and product portfolio
• Stores, which are a free way for sellers enrolled in Brand Registry to showcase your brand story and product offering

Learn more about Amazon Advertising >

Running promotions

Who doesn’t love a bargain? Promotions can be a great way to build excitement and interest when selling products online, and there’s a wide variety of options to suit how you sell. You might create a flash sale, offer coupons to incentivise a certain group of customers, run a "buy one, get one free" promo or create a Lightning Deal for the Amazon Deals page.

Creating blog content

If you maintain your own website, adding fresh and regular blog content can be an effective way of encouraging traffic from existing and potential customers. You might write about your new product releases, share handy tips or recipes, run a tutorial or dive deeper into the unique features of your products. Blog content may have positive impacts on SEO, and most importantly it can also help customers feel like they’re part of your online community.

Requesting customer reviews

Genuine customer reviews can be one of the single most powerful marketing touchpoints for an ecommerce business. After all – who better to vouch for your brand and products than someone who has already purchased from your store?

Providing customer support

The simple golden rule of providing great customer support is to be there for your customers should they ever have a question or concern with their order. Providing friendly, responsive customer service as it’s needed can help increase the chances of customers returning again. If you’re selling products using Fulfilment by Amazon, we provide customer service for all customer enquiries, refunds and returns for those items to help free up your time.

What to know before getting started

The important thing to remember when starting to sell online is that trial and error can be a valuable part of the process, and particularly so when first starting out. It can be helpful to take a broad approach to your product offering, marketing and pricing approaches so you can gain an understanding of what truly works. It can also help to start small while you get a feel for what sells. With a little time and data analysis, you could soon build a clear idea of what brings in the best revenue.

One other thing to remember is that you don’t need to go it alone. From beginners’ guides to ecommerce forums and startup support, there are so many resources to help you learn how to sell online and grow your business. The exciting ecommerce world awaits!

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