Today it’s easier than ever for anyone to become a retailer. You no longer need to worry about the expense and hassle of a physical storefront. Instead, you have the whole world as a potential customer base through the internet.
That’s an exciting prospect… but how do you reach all those people? The truth is it takes more than simply building a website, even if you have quality products at good prices. It doesn’t matter much if no one is able to see them.
Fortunately, there are many cost-effective ways to reach online shoppers. The four main channels are: marketplaces, comparison shopping engines, product listing ads, and social media. Let’s take a look at what each one is and how your approach should differ when selling on each channel.
On a marketplace, products are provided by multiple retailers, and transactions are processed by the marketplace. The marketplace charges retailers a fee to list items on their site. Some will even handle fulfillment for an additional fee.
I can guarantee you’re familiar with one major online marketplace: Amazon. Amazon sells its own products, but it also offers products from many third-party sellers. But there are lots of other major online marketplaces, such as eBay, Walmart, NewEgg, Sears, Rakuten, PriceFalls, FlexShopper, and Shop.com
One drawback of many marketplaces is that your brand can get lost in the shuffle. For example, many people who make a purchase on Amazon don’t even realize that they are receiving a product from a third-party seller.
If you want to encourage repeat purchases, you have to take advantage of the ways that you can draw attention to your brand. This can include how you handle customer service, request product reviews, and the product packaging itself if you choose to handle fulfillment yourself.
It is also crucial to follow the rules of each particular marketplace and provide them with data optimized for that particular website. The more complete information you provide, the more likely you are to show up high in consumer search results. That can make a big difference in the number of sales you make.
Comparison Shopping Engines & Product Listing Ads
Comparison shopping engines allow shoppers to search for products, but they don’t process the orders. Instead, the final purchase is made on the retailer’s site. CSEs usually charge retailers a fee every time a shopper clicks through and makes a purchase.
Nextag is one of the top paid comparison shopping engines with 30 million monthly unique visitors. Other examples include Google, Polyvore, Connexity, and uGiftideas. And there are many mobile apps that are CSEs, such as Wish, ShopSavvy, RedLaser, and WaNeLo.
The benefit here is that consumers must interact directly with your company to make a purchase. They’ll know exactly who they are buying from. But that also means there may be less trust if they are unfamiliar with your brand.
Your website must be professional and easy to navigate, with return and shipping policies that are generous, clear, and up-front. Allow customers to leave reviews and feedback, and don’t remove the negative feedback. Studies have shown that people are less likely to trust websites where all the feedback is positive. Instead, respond to that negative feedback so consumers can see that you care about problems that arise.
With CSEs, quality, up-to-date data is also key. You don’t want to promote a product on a CSE only to have people arrive on your site and find out it is sold out or inaccurate. And you’re unlikely to attract many customers if you provide incomplete information.
PLAs, which are the ads that display products on most CSEs, show an image, description, and the price of your product, making it simple for people to see your offer. As with CSEs, the ultimate purchase is made on your website, so the tips about your website functionality and design apply here as well.
With PLAs, negative keywords can help you to avoid spending money on irrelevant searches. These are keywords that you don’t want your product to appear for. For example, if you only sell bottles of wine, you don’t want your ad to come up when users search for “wine bottle opener” or “wine storage”. This can help you keep your ad dollars focused on the right customers.
Additionally, you can use geographic settings to tailor your ads to specific locations. Maybe you want to promote those California wines to Californians, for example. The more tailored your ads, the more likely they are to do well.
I’ve already mentioned Facebook’s PLAs, but other social media channels also offer ways to sell your products. Pinterest and Instagram both offer direct-sales integration. And Houzz is a major player in the world of home and garden.
For all of these sites, photos play a key role. After all, these social media sites are dedicated to the sharing of images. People visit to look for inspiration. If your image strikes their fancy, they are more likely to click through and make the purchase.
Be sure to provide high-quality, high-resolution photos of your products. When applicable, put it in context. For example, don’t just show an image of a sofa alone. Put it in a living room setting, so people can better visualize how it would look in their own home. This can also give them a better sense of its size.
Additionally, provide multiple angles on the product page, as well as detailed information about measurements and features. They won’t be able to physically see the product, so make up for it by providing a wealth of information.
Getting Listed Everywhere - Fast
If you are new to the ecommerce game, it’s likely you are now feeling overwhelmed by the idea of getting all your products listed on all of these different possible channels. You know how long it already took you to get that information up on your website. How long will it take you to add all that data to these places, too?
Here’s the good news. You don’t have to re-enter all that information. Instead, you can leverage that existing data and get added to multiple shopping channels at once. This can be done more effectively (and easier) through the use of a product feed management software. Programs like GoDataFeed grab the data already in your shopping cart, optimize it for the requirements of different shopping channels, and then regularly send that information to multiple shopping channels.
The result is that your data is specifically tailored to each shopping channel, improving your chances of appearing higher in customers’ search results. And it is also up-to-date, ensuring that you are only promoting products that you currently have in stock.
GoDataFeed also offers analytics tools that make it easy to see where you are making (or losing) money, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
It makes the process of expanding your products’ visibility much more simple and efficient, enabling you to focus on growing your new business.