Selling Your Stuff Online:
6 Things to Consider Before You Leap

By Cyndy Bolton

Do you have a web site, and think you may be ready to sell your wares to the world? Maybe you are thinking of incorporating an e commerce component into a new site in its initial development stages.

The fact of the business matter is, most online consumers looking to make a purchase will more than likely do it spontaneously, as they are looking for information. If you attach good information to your site and educate your audience, you can turn them into clients with the addition of a seamless e commerce component.

In order to create an effective tool, you must make it profitable. How much will it cost to develop and implement? Ask yourself if you are truly in the position to shoulder the investment, and create some projections of how you will recover the cost over time. The result of this exercise may be where the e commerce project ends, or takes flight.

Assess whether your product is in demand, and where. Know the characteristics of your market, and better still, find out what your competitors are doing. Sometimes the best education you can get is to spend some time online and see what they are up to. If no one in your area of expertise is selling, is it because what you offer is not in demand, or are you at the ahead of the demand?

Initially, a few years ago, a web site was considered a luxury if you had one. Now they are considered a necessity. Lately, content is king. The quality of what you offer online to educate your clients is extremely important. It helps build your credibility and reinforce existing relationships. Statistics say that it is 8 times as expensive to obtain a new client than it is to nurture a repeat sale.

The continuing evolution of online business has e commerce in its sights. If you plan to sell your product in mass quantity, this may be worth a large consideration. Be careful though, if you have a large inventory list of many items, it may not be as profitable. Managing massive amounts of stock is difficult at best, but imagine adding a worldwide shipping department, and you may have bitten off more than you can chew.

There are quite a few things to consider before you plan to move forward and engage an online e-shop.

  1. Product/Service: how much is enough? Does size matter? If you have a great amount of product to move, then size is an issue. Set appointments with carriers who can answer your questions such as Postal Services and Couriers.

  2. Customs & Excise : do your homework, or better still, if your company is large enough, task the financial department with learning the impact of international business. In Canada, EDC can help. This issue is of utmost importance, and should be one of the first stops you make for information when considering e commerce for your company.

  3. Space: 2 kinds, internet space, such as servers to deal with volume, and transfer space. Some companies will handle all of this for you, especially if your product is a book or software. They create, package and ship it all for you. Neat-O!

  4. Security: do you have the ability to offer secure financial transactions? This is the biggest concern for your customer. If you cannot state that the transaction is secure, they will leave and won't be back. Purchasing the ability to be secure can be as easy as asking your clients to use their Pay Pal account, or as complicated as creating your own system. Of course the latter is the least expensive way to go.

  5. Shipping: Like I mentioned above, shipping is a big thing to consider. If you need to transfer your packages, then research your options and do your homework. You may decide that e commerce is a bigger animal than you had anticipated.

  6. Localization: The language and cultural version of your product or service in another geographic area has great weight and bearing on it's success elsewhere. Is there a larger market for furnaces in Canada compared to India? Yes, of course! Could you market your product in India? Language is not a barrier here, but remember, furnaces are not in high demand in warmer climates.

Knowing that there is much to consider before implementing e commerce is the first step in recognizing what it means to your business. It could open doors to worldwide recognition and wonderful business relationships. Educate yourself before you move forward. Making an informed decision is the best way to begin.