Sunday, July 27, 2014

How to sell your products online

With the e-commerce boom in India, more and more brands, companies, and people are trying to sell their products online. A few friends of mine who make or source some products, and till now were selling in exhibitions and from home, are also starting to use the online medium to sell. And why not? The medium works, you can reach more people, increase sales and also manage your costs & inventory better. However if you have never sold online before the initial experience can be a bit daunting. And the question I get asked most often is "How do I increase sales online?".

So this post is for all those of you are selling online and/or planning to.
First select the online marketplace based on your products and where it fits better. Amazon, FlipKart, SnapDeal, and quite a few more have what is called "The Marketplace" model, which means their online stores are a marketplace where a seller can go and sell their products. Select the ones you want to work with based on who deals in the categories that your product fits, their location, the fees charged, payment terms, analytics they give you to understand your performance, the tools they offer to upload and sell, who offers warehouse and shipping facilities and the charge for the same and the overall ease of doing business with.

If you do not have storage and shipping (remember in the online space orders can come from far and very faraway places too), then it would be better to go with a marketplace that offers warehouse and shipping facilities. Even if you think you can handle shipping on your own, sometimes it may still may make sense to use their facilities instead of your own. More on this later.

So you have selected the places where you want to sell and are listing your products. Well step one, two and three, of increasing sales starts here. Let's look at this from the perspective of the buyer to make things logical. Ultimately it's him or her you are selling to and they are the reason you are in business.

Now typically when searching on a site a person first has to find your product based on the keywords they use to search or the category in which you have listed the product. Always remember "Jo Dikhta hai woh bikta hai".

So first thing is to get your products appear in search results of the site and in the right Product categories. That means Keywords, or search terms (as some sites call it) are very important. Make sure you use "all relevant" keywords for your product in the relevant section while listing. And "Relevant" is key here. Do not try to be extra smart here and also fill in "Mobile Phone" for a 'bag" as the keyword (if it's not a mobile case). Some sites have algorithms that will give your product negative ranking and show them even lower on search if your keywords are not relevant. And use "all" keywords - as much as the site allows for a product listing.

Also select the category or categories that your product belongs too. This is important as that helps in people finding your product easily.

So you have made sure the keywords are all in place and product is listed in the right category. Now remember when a person searches or goes into a particular category to search what they see is a list of items with image, Title and price (the search results page Or Listing page). What typically happens is they first see the image and then read the title and price and either click on your item to see more of just continue browsing. So next 3 most important things to remember are?

Image, Title and Price.  So let's get cracking on those now shall we?

Upload a good main image. Select your main image well and make sure it depicts the product and features well. Upload as many images as the marketplace allows showing the product features and from different angles. Remember - the first thing a viewer's eye will notice is the image. So spend some time and money on getting good images clicked.

Now write a title that best describes your product. The product - what it is, name, material and sometimes size too. Don't make it too long but make sure it's also not one or 2 words only. e.g  If You are selling Jute bags - it's better to have a Title that says something like - Ecofriendly Jute Bag with 3 Pockets & shoulder sling size w"xh"xL' , rather than just saying Jute bag.

And then the price. Well you know your selling price but will it make people buy? So keep your base minimum price in mind and first research at what price same or similar products are selling. How are you priced with respect to them. What do you offer better that a person would pay more for? Is that visible in the Image and the Title? 

Also see how long have the other people selling similar products for and what are their ratings and reviews. Who is doing the delivery in their case? Is there any extra delivery cost? Think of all these before finalizing the price. Also you may want to keep a lower price to begin with, and get some sales, and then revise the price later after you gain some sales traction.

So you have used the right keywords and categories, used impressionable images, and have an attractive pricing. You have thus increased your chances of getting your product visible on search results, got a person interested enough with your images, title and price to make them click and reach your product detail page.

Now comes description and features (specifications). These are not the same. Some sites have only description some have features and some both. So based on what the site allows make sure you put specification - Size, weight, material, technology etc in features in full detail. Again be truthful and exact. You do not want to have a product returned by a buyer because they did not get what they saw in the features or specs. Remember returns means negative ratings and rankings and is bad for business.

While writing description don't just write a small bland description. Write how the features will benefit the buyer.  A handmade eco-friendly bag can be just that or it can be a bag that makes the owner proud to be eco-sensitive as well as look smart and chic.  A bag can have 3 pockets or It can have 3 easily accessible compartments to hold essentials such as a mobile phone, a diary and cosmetics as well as purse all safe, secure and easily accessible. Get what am saying?

We have covered the basics and the most important ones to begin with. This should be good to get you started. If you have queries please feel free to comment and ask. And oh yes, if any of your friends are selling online or want to start and need help please share this with them too. 

There is a lot more that can be done to further increase sales, but then, that would be a topic by itself so - another time. Till then cheers and Happy Selling.

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