How To Sell Products Online: What You Need To Know To Start Making Sales – Forbes

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Updated: Apr 21, 2022, 10:20am
Starting an online business can be as simple as starting a website with the right service. If you’re looking to sell products online, there are many platforms and services that can facilitate it for you. It’s a great way to earn extra income on the side or pursue an entirely new entrepreneurship opportunity. Picking a way to sell products online involves assessing your business requirements and finding a platform scaled for what you need.
When you’re figuring out where to sell online, you have to define the type of product first. Based on what you want to sell, you can find platforms with as many or fewer customization options to put your product-selling business together.
Whether you’re selling handmade items, print-on-demand clothing or custom-printed mugs, it’s important to start with a business plan. From the beginning, it’s important to define your niche and target audience. This makes marketing easier in the long run.
If you’re using a print-on-demand company to make T-shirts and mugs and other products, you’ll want to do some test orders yourself so you can be familiar with the materials. Handmade product sellers should take careful measurements to display on product pages. If there is any expected variation, you should write a disclaimer about that on your product pages as well.
Dropshipping is also a popular way of selling products. You don’t have to interact with the creation or supply chain but can start selling a product without too much thought or intervention.

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There are a variety of online platforms that you can use to sell your products. It depends on how much customization you want to do for your online store.
A domain name is your website address, such as youronlinestore.com. Typically your domain will be your business’s name. However, domains are notoriously difficult to find, so if you’re struggling to find an available domain consider using your business name plus a relevant keyword or your location. For example, a cafe named “Half Baked” might try halfbakedcafe.com, drinkhalfbaked.com or halfbakedaustin.com.
To begin searching for an available domain, visit one of the best domain registrars, such as Namecheap or Domain.com. From there you can search for domains and purchase your own for around $12 to $15 per year.
Finding the perfect online e-commerce platform is easy after you determine the scope of your side hustle or business.
Shopify is one of the most popular platforms for a reason. Although there isn’t a free option, it’s easy to set up a store and integrate with print-on-demand services such as Printful and Printify. It also allows customers to recover abandoned carts and has a ton of customizable themes for your shop. Shopify is also good for dropshipping businesses.
Shift4Shop is another store builder that has a free plan available. This is a good idea to start with if you’re looking to keep the business small or scale proportionally.
Squarespace is a website builder platform with selling capabilities. If you’re interested in web design and want to show off your products with an eye-catching website, this is a good place to start.
Finally, Square (which also sells credit card processing hardware for brick-and-mortar stores) allows you to build an online store on a free plan. This is also a good plan to use if you plan to ever have an in-person selling option for your products, whether that’s a store location or a trade show.
In addition to building your online store where you can sell your products directly to consumers, it’s also wise to list your products on large online marketplaces, such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Walmart, Zazzle or any other relevant platform to your product-type or niche. While these third-party e-commerce platforms will take a fee or commission, they provide a great deal of exposure, giving your business the opportunity to get in front of consumers and land sales.
Here are the most popular platforms to sell products online:
Learn more about how to sell on Amazon and how to start an Etsy shop. Additionally, consider selling products on specialty marketplaces or niche sites that your target market uses to shop online.
All of these platforms have payment processors so you can quickly and easily start charging money for your creations. However, it would be a good idea to register as a sole proprietor or an LLC to track your income for taxes. Even as a side hustle, this will be better in the long run for your personal income tracking.
Shipping is also important to consider. Unless you’re providing templates or designs to use online, you’ll want to review all of the options for shipping and how cost-effective they are.
Free shipping is a good tactic for getting customers to buy, but you have to absorb the shipping costs yourself. Offering sales or other incentives might be a better idea if shipping costs are trending upwards from your chosen carrier in your region.
When you’re ready to sell, advertising is crucial in order to help your business gain visibility and sell products. There are a number of ways to advertise, from social media to PPC ads, and you will generally want to advertise across multiple channels.
Here are the leading ways to market products online:
Once you have a customer base with a demonstrated interest in your brand, there are even more ways to market your business. For example, you can build a dedicated newsletter, use SMS marketing, create a Facebook Group, host an event and more.
It depends on what you’re selling. If you have handmade products, you might want to use Etsy. If you’re selling designs you worked on yourself, you might want to build your own Squarespace site to reflect your creativity.
Even if you’re not a designer, there are tons of ways to make and sell products online. You can hire your own designer, install a dropshipping application or take up a new crafting skill.
Doing this research on Google Trends and various social media websites will help you figure out what is best to sell.
Julia is a writer in New York and started covering tech and business during the pandemic. She also covers books and the publishing industry.
Kelly is an SMB Editor specializing in starting and marketing new ventures. Before joining the team, she was a Content Producer at Fit Small Business where she served as an editor and strategist covering small business marketing content. She is a former Google Tech Entrepreneur and she holds an MSc in International Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Additionally, she manages a column at Inc. Magazine.

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