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From box making machines to nailing user experience: five tips to start selling online from your small business

9th October 2018 - Business & Marketing
From box making machines to nailing user experience: five tips to start selling online from your small business

It’s easier than you might think to start selling online from your business today.
E-commerce in the UK now accounts for around 18% of all retail sales, so merely having a great product is no longer enough. Instead, businesses are increasingly turning to online channels to grow and sell. Not sure where to get started? We’ve got you covered.

No matter how you sell online, whether that’s with your e-commerce website or through selling sites such as eBay or Amazon, there are so many advantages to moving your business online:

It’s a hugely cost-effective process

Not only do you not have to fork out for renting or installation costs, but you can keep staffing to a minimum, making it much easier to keep overheads down. Similarly, most e-commerce platforms feature in-built processing systems, which can save a whole lot of time and energy, too.

You can run your business from anywhere

Unlike traditional bricks and mortar businesses, e-commerce businesses allow you to efficiently oversee the day to day running no matter where you are in the world.

It helps to expand your reach

E-commerce allows you to reach more customers, whether you’re just starting out or have been selling for years. Unlike stores, which are limited by location, your customers can purchase from you anywhere, 24 hours a day, allowing you to serve customers from a much wider area.

It lets you be where your customers hang out

Whether using social platforms on their mobile phones or browsing on the internet, it’s no secret that more and more people are spending increasing amounts of time online. With 77% of UK adults admitting to having used the internet to purchase goods and services online, it’s clear that businesses need to move online if they want to be seen.

So, where do I begin?

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer

Before you begin, it’s crucial to identify who it is you’re looking to sell to. Instead of making a vague profile, get specific:

What are their demographics? Are they male or female? Where do they live? How old are they? Think about their relationship status, ethnicity, education level and career, too. Nailing these necessary details will give you a clearer picture of who it is you should be aiming your marketing efforts towards.

What are they like? Are they laid back or stressed? What makes them tick? Do they have any specific interests or hobbies?

What challenges do they face? Consider your target audience and their everyday tasks. Determine what problems they meet and how your product or service can help with that. It’s all about thinking outside the box and placing your brand in front of the right people, at the right time.

It is essential for businesses to set a targetable, yet reachable audience for their products or services. By determining your exact customer, you’re able to tailor messages to appeal specifically to that group more clearly.

2. Create a plan

Goals

Surprisingly, so many businesses don’t set themselves goals, but it’s the best way to measure progress and see what works. Identify what it is you want to achieve – is it increased sales, improved visibility on search engines or more website visits? By determining clear, achievable KPI’s, it’s much easier to measure successes or failures.

Content strategy

The biggest mistake e-commerce businesses make? Ignoring content marketing and focusing instead on just the product. Base your content strategy around your target customer instead of simply your product or service. For example, if you sell reusable straws, chances are your customer will be eco-conscious and will be interested in healthy eating and natural wellness, too. By building your content strategy around your customer and their broader interests rather than just churning out content about your product, you’ll be provided with many more ways to connect with your audience.

Nail the basics

Listening to your customers and learning about your new market is the key to getting it right the first time. From determining the right price for your products to being honest and upfront about your shipping and handling costs, your customers are searching for a trustworthy company to do business with.

Get your branding and packaging locked in

Your customers are searching for something new – a consistent brand who offers something a bit different. Not only does great branding help to differentiate your business from its competitors, but it also presents an ideal way to cement your brand values and ideals through creative packaging.

E-commerce businesses need to make sure their packaging is not only sturdy and suitable for shipping but also looks good, too. The biggest problem with e-commerce is the need for a multitude of different sized boxes, but there are simple ways around this. Investing in a box making machine, for example, means you can create identical, or one-off designs on demand, removing the need to store masses of packaging materials and helps to maximise efficiency and minimise packaging wastage.

3. User experience is key

When it comes to selling your products or services online, it’s all about offering your customers an exceptional purchasing experience. You need to create a level of trust between your business and your customers, and so mapping out your customer needs and focus on delivering an e-commerce website that fulfils these is important. Here are our top tips:

Get rid of the extra baggage. While a multitude of functions and fancy graphics might make your website look good, it’s not always the best for your users. Take away anything that’s not essential – your users will appreciate a streamlined, fast site much more than a multitude of unnecessary features.

Ensure navigation is simple. Similarly, a clear menu and navigation system will go a considerable way towards helping your customers to find what it is they are looking for quickly. Consider adding a search function for an even better, and faster, shopping experience.

Put your contact information front and centre. It’s simple, if your customer has a problem, and can’t speak to someone quickly and directly, they’ll go elsewhere. Offer your site visitors a few different ways to contact you, whether that’s a phone number, an online chat or an email address.

Build with responsiveness in mind. It would be silly to not consider responsive design practices when designing a website, especially in today’s digital age. With so many people turning to mobile phones and other handheld devices to access the internet, it is essential to know how to design an effective user interface that works anywhere, at any time.

4. Build your reputation

It might go without saying, but so many business owners try and sell their products without actually selling their brand. Sales and marketing go hand in hand and, to be successful, it’s crucial to invest in a great marketing strategy. It’s all about generating a buzz around your products or services, which can make a massive difference in getting customers to visit your site. From social media advertising to pay-per-click ads, Search Engine Optimisation to email marketing, it’s necessary to get your brand out there, and in front of the right people.

5. Start selling!

All that’s left to do, then, is to begin selling! No matter how much planning and preparation you’ve put in, every new business hits a few bumps in the road. It’s how you deal with these issues that make or break, your business!

 

BCS

This article was contributed by British Converting Solutions, world-leading business specialising in the manufacturing of box making machines. With their machines now operating worldwide, BCS offer businesses of all sizes ultimate control over their packaging needs. Visit www.bcscorrugated.com to find out more.

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