Why you should sell online?
eCommerce in India is booming. According to a study conducted by Google India, there were 35 million online shoppers in India in 2014 Q1 and is expected to cross 100 million mark by end of year 2016. Broadband internet and explosive growth of mobile phones are fueling this growth further.
Companies like Flipkart have already crossed billion dollar valuation. If you have a product to sell, this is perhaps the best time to start selling it online. Here is an ultimate guide to teach you how to sell online in India.
Before You Start Selling Online
1) Calculate the costs involved in selling online
Selling online in India or in any country for that matter involves various costs. Its important to first find out if you can make good profits after considering all those costs. Lets look at some of the important costs:
Shipping Cost – Visit your nearest courier or shipping company and find out how much it would cost to ship your product in various parts of India. Make a list of states and shipping fee. Normally this cost hovers between 5% to 15% of the product cost depending on the size and weight of the product.
Packaging Cost – Depending on the type of product you are planning to sell, you will need to consider the packaging cost. Check the different packing material and calculate how much you will need for one product. Calculate the total cost per product accordingly. Normally its between 0.5% to 2% of the product cost.
Payment Gateway Cost – If you planning to setup your own store, you will need a payment gateway. These sites normally charge between 1.5% to 5% of the total transaction. There could be one time setup fee and recurring annual maintenance fees. Last time when I checked, most payment gateway providers had waived off these fees. You can negotiate the transaction fee if you have higher volume.
Storage Cost – Depending on the product, you might need to rent warehouse or some storage space for your products. Find out this cost as well. Some online marketplaces like Amazon let you use their warehouses at a small fee.
Marketing Cost – Like any other business, you will have to tell the world that you have arrived. Surely, there are free ways to promote your business but at some point of time you will have invest in paid marketing channels. Google’s AdWords is a good platform to start with online ads and it also offers tools to calculate the costs.
2) Find out if its viable to sell online
Now that you have a fair idea of different costs involved in selling online, you can do quick math to find out the profitability of your venture. Here is a simple formula :
Profit Margin= Selling price – (Sourcing Cost + Packing & Shipping + Transaction Fees + Marketing Cost + Variable Costs)
If your profit margin is positive, you are good to go ahead and start selling online. If its very low or negative, you should think about minimising the costs.
3) Create digital catalogue of your products
Assuming you have passed the profit margin test, its time to take the next step. You will need to create a list of products in a spreadsheet. Later you will be able to import that list to eCommerce marketplaces or self hosted shopping cart. This list should contain Product Code (or SKU), Product Name, Description, Category, Selling Price, Discount (If any), Brand, Colour and other applicable attributes.
Once this is done, take 3-4 good quality photographs of the product from different angles, preferably in white background. Product images play a vital role in online selling, so its recommended to take help from a professional. In some case, you can get these photos from the manufacturer as well.
4) Setup End to End Process
Its better to get organised from the day one. Do you know how event management companies manage huge events without any goof up? Well, they play the entire event in their minds before they start working on it. You can do the same and lay out a process describing steps from getting an order to shipping the goods.
It could be a simple checklist for doing quality checks, packaging, invoicing, etc. This will help also help your staff when you are not around.
5) Use A Good Inventory Management Software
As you will be dealing with inventory everyday, it might become painful to manage inward and outward stock movement manually. Start using a good inventory management software to track your inventory. Some of the softwares even provide inventory sync option with your shopping cart or marketplace account.
6) Be discoverable online
Your customers are more likely to search for your business before they make any purchase. If they can’t find product reviews or any other information about your business, they might drop off. So, its important to have online presence in the form of company website, social media account or any other channel.
Here is an in-depth guide to build online presence for your business.
Selling On Marketplaces Vs Own Web Store
Now that you are ready to sell online, its time for a big decision. Should you sell on online eCommerce marketplaces like Flipkart or Amazon or should you setup your own web store?
Lets evaluate the first option:
Sell online using eCommerce Marketplaces:
This one is perhaps the most simple option. Process of selling on these marketplaces is very simple and you can start selling within a week.
Process Involved – All you have to do is to visit seller-registration pages of these sites by clicking on the links above and submit your business details. You will need to keep VAT registration number, PAN number and Bank details handy. Some sites need address proof as well. You can upload scanned copies of these documents. Verification is completed normally in couple of days.
Advantages – You can save big on the marketing cost. All of these marketplaces attract millions of visitors everyday and have a loyal user base. You also don’t need to worry about the payment gateway and shipping. Most of these portals provide packing material as well.
Disadvantages – These marketplaces charge higher commission on every sale. For some items, it could go upto 15-20%. Apart from this, you have a little control over how your product is displayed on their sites.
As you can see, selling on eCommerce marketplaces is fairly simple and straight forward process. It takes less time and you can save on your marketing costs.
Now, lets look at the another option:
Setup your own web store or shopping cart to sell online:
This option can be further split into two parts – You can either develop your own eCommerce website and host it on your own server or create a web store using online store creators. We will discuss second option as its relatively easy and cost saving.
Process Involved – Just register on one of these sites and upload your product catalogue. You can link your own payment gateway or use the one provided by these sites.
Advantages – Interface is easy and no technical knowledge is required. You customise the look and feel of your store.
Disadvantages – You will have to invest in marketing your site. It will take time build trust as customers hesitate to buy from new sites.
So, take your pick and start selling online.
5 Tips To Make Your First Sale!
Once your store is up and running, its time to generate your first sale. Here are 5 ideas to start the ball rolling:
Start Emailing Your Contacts
Sell To Friends & Family On Facebook
Buy Facebook Ads
Promote On Google
Generate Coupons & Submit Them To Deal Sites
Create one pre-launch mailing list in a simple spreadsheet. You can even export contacts from your Gmail or other mail account. Import that list into a bulk mailing service like Mailchimp. Create a simple mail highlighting your products and tell the world that you’ve launched a new site. It will be a good idea to insert a special coupon code.
Share your product photos on Facebook and other social networks. Connect with your friends and family on a personal level and tell them about your new venture. If they are not ready to buy, ask them to share it with their network.
Facebook Advertising provides a great options to target your product Ad precisely. You can show your Ad to people based on their hobby, lifestyle, gender, location and much more. You might have to keep monitoring the results and tweak your campaign accordingly.
With Google’s Adwords platform is one of the most popular advertising network. You can display your product to people who are actually searching for it. This increases the chances of sale. Similar to Facebook Ads, you will need to constantly monitor the performance and finetune your Ad.
There are lot of Indian coupon listing sites where you can submit your special discount coupons. People normally search for the coupons before buying a product. Most of these sites do not change any fee for coupon submission.
Remember, your first few sales shouldn’t be about just making profits. They should be about finding your product/market fit, understand the demand. During initial days, your focus should be to refine your advertising, shipping, fulfillment and customer service and shopping experience.
Get Inventory Management Software For Your Web Store