How to start selling online, for existing businesses

Cris Pintea

Cris Pintea

This article is intended for existing businesses that are selling products through their physical stores and would like to start selling online as well.

Here’s what we’ll go through:

  • Everything you need to start selling online
  • How to make an online store
  • Customer relationships when selling online

How selling works

If you’re running a store, your sales’ journey probably looks like this:

  • A customer finds out about the product from your shop window / shelf / ad
  • The customer decides to buy, so they enter the store
  • They pay for the product
  • They leave with the product

Your shop is your inventory, and the customer does the “shipping”.

Online, the customer never actually gets close to you or your store when making a purchase, so they cannot check the inventory, and they cannot do the “shipping”. These are problems you will need to solve.

Online, the customer will never find out about your product by walking on the street and casually seeing your shop window! You are going to have to get clever about getting found by customers.

Your online “shop” is essentially a website, and the website’s look and feel are what will make your customer’s mind about buying from you.

Finally, let’s not forget about payment! No cash online, and no physical card readers. You are going to need some way to accept payments online!

So let’s recap:

  • You’ll need to keep track of inventory
  • You have to ship the product to the customer
  • Get clever about getting found by customers
  • Look cool to convince customers
  • Finally, somehow get paid

Of course, selling online is just like selling offline, so you’ll need everything else as well, like showing product info to your customer, showing accurate prices, being able to run promotions, suggesting other products the customer may like, and so on and so forth, but the essentials are the ones we listed above.

The best solution for selling online

As of writing this, your best bet is by far Shopify. It offers solutions to all the points we listed above as well as a plethora of other features to make your store rock. Starting at 29$ per month, it is totally worth it!

Setting your store up is also easy, and you could be up and running in a matter of hours! Once you’ve signed up and picked your plan, you should:

  • Purchase a top-level domain (like to look professional
  • Pick a good-looking theme for your store (remember, the look and feel are king and queen!)
  • Add your products and inventory
  • Connect PayPal account to accept PayPal payments

The only thing you will have left to figure out is shipping! That’s up to you to plan. Find a good shipping provider and figure out how much shipping will cost you. Also, remember to properly set up shipping prices in Shopify so you can have the customer pay for shipping!

Customer relationship

In your physical store, you might know your returning customers. You might remember their name and chat with them when they visit your store or offer them special discounts as a token of gratitude for their loyalty.

The same is just as beneficial online, although doing it may be a bit trickier. As you start getting more and more involved with online selling, you will start using some of the internet’s media to your advantage:

  • mailing lists for keeping in touch with your customers
  • CRM products for keeping ties with your most active customers (CRM stands for customer relationship management, Intercom is one such product)
  • social media networks as a shop window, as well as a way to show new products to your existing network.
  • a blog to get found through web search engines like Google.

I will be writing about all these in other articles.

If you’re just now getting started with selling online, it might feel overwhelming, however just know that it is not rocket science, and once you get started you will figure it all out, one small step at a time.

Creating your online store on Shopify and letting your existing customers know that they can also order online is a great place to start!

I will be writing more about digital transformation, so if you’re interested sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you’d like a hand with expanding your own business online, write me at [email protected].

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