To start a business online, you need some basic tools to manage your operation, such as the website creation, marketing and sales. However, not all the products are the same, you can start selling clothing or home products online without licenses. The same thing applies for digital downloads such as e-books and guides.
In the other way, medical products need a license, and it depends on your state or country. Today, we will talk about what do you need to sell products online. It’s not easy to find the exact tools you need and not all of them have the same quality.
The first step to selling products online should be a plan, it’s not complicated as people think, all you have to do is to create a simple list of things that come to your mind when you think about your project.
If you want to create an online store, for example, you can think about the software you need, the targeted people to sell to them, and more detailed information, such as, your payment processor, and the prices. So, take some time and maturate your idea, that will bring better results and clarifies things in the future.
You can also read: best ways to promote a product online.
Now, you have the exact idea about the product you want to sell online. The next step will be the things or the tools needed to sell items online. So, let’s talk about them one by one. But, remember that these tools depend on the nature of your products and the geographical location to sell them.
When we say an online presence, we should think about the website, it’s the only way to exist online. A website is more important than anything else because of its role. No website, means, no online business, and newbies should understand that carefully, to build a strong website and not just a few pages like many other.
If you want to succeed and start a professional business, forget those people who just create Facebook pages and call it their online presence. Facebook is a social network and it started losing its importance by the time, they are losing users and one day, you will forget it completely.
A web page about business on Facebook is like a hobby. Statistics show that the majority of Facebook fans follows a brand just to benefit from a discount or a promotion, then, they forget that page completely.
People still believe that brands with millions of Facebook fans are selling their products from there. However, the truth is completely different, these companies hire people to respond to spam questions, and other things that no one wants.
My advice here is to build a real website that brand your business, instead of letting people play with it like any Facebook game.
To build your website where you can sell your products, you have two main options:
1. Get a complete website store
There are lots of companies who offer a complete online store software. It includes the website pages, the hosting, the payment processors, and many additional tools. My recommendation is BigCommerce, it’s the largest eCommerce company first, seconds, it’s the only advanced and effective tool.
Thousands of small business owners are migrating their stores to this company every month. They trust it and see the features that no one else offers.
The main reason that I’ve started with this website type is that you get a free hosting for your store included. At the same time, BigCommerce offers free CDN service to speed up the website and make it loading faster than your competitors. That affects the ranking and you can expect better results with them.
We should also think about the mobile eCommerce feature offered by this company. They optimize their clients’ website for mobile phones and allow customers to buy easily on the go.
This way is the best choice for startup and retail business in general. If you sell clothing, for example, this website builder tool will give you all the needs and even more. At the same time, you will save money, you have a free hosting that costs money normally, and a free tool with services that you should pay for them in other ways.
If you want more detailed information, you can read: The best eCommerce website builder and hosting.
2 Create a self-hosted website
This option is the ideal for registered companies with thousands of visitors per day, You need to create a strong website with lots of customizations. The WordPress platform works well with eCommerce websites, it’s free to install on any server, there are thousands of plugins and tools to use.
The self-hosted website need a hosting, and only powerful web hosting companies can help. They should be reliable, with lots of services and most importantly, these companies should secure your website, and make it safe.
With my experience and the experience of bloggers that I know, there are two recommended companies, The first is Inmotion Hosting for small and medium size websites. They offer reliable and cheap web hosting compared to their competitors, they have a great customer support and lots of advanced features.
The second recommended hosting is WP Engine, it is a premium and managed web hosting, especially, for WordPress. Their prices are higher compared to other shared hosting and that’s normal, they are the top quality hosting today.
The self hosted website needs extra tools to set up and you can read this article to learn how to create an eCommerce website using WordPress.
Let affiliates sell your products
This is a very important way to take your sales to the next level, most small business owners don’t have any idea about the affiliate business. However, affiliate marketing transformed small and ignored companies into popular businesses with millions of dollars in sales.
If you want to sell your products and promote them in thousands of websites, you need to spend a fortune and the return on investment won’t cover your costs.
Affiliate marketing is a way to let experienced marketers promote your products on their websites, and earn a commission from each sale. If you have a product that costs $100, for example, you can give affiliates $30 per sale and you keep the $70 without doing anything.
What makes an affiliate marketing effective is the number of sales. Just imagine if you have thousands of affiliates, each one of them has, at least one website. So, thousands of sites are promoting your product. The result will be thousands of sales and good relationships between people.
The easy and professional way to start your affiliate program is to sign up with ShareASale. It is a first class affiliate network with thousands of affiliates from all niches, they list your product in their marketplace and affiliates find it by category or advanced search. Also, they can promote your product and introduce it to their affiliates with additional fees.
ShareASale network receives millions of visitors and you can image the huge potential customers that you can get with them. The good thing about them is the trust, they are in business since 14 years and they approve manually their affiliates, to ensure the quality websites and business to work with.
The good thing is that they have large categories. You can sell equipment, health products, business tools, software, themes, home products and what you can imagine.
Solid payment processor
Of course, you need to have a payment method to receive your money and pay for your monthly fees and so on, but not all the payment processors are the same. What you need is a trusted company first, then, a global payment method to sell your products with multiple currencies if you want.
PayPal is the largest one, but, you should verify your business account with them before doing anything. Add your card and bank account and make sure to use your real information and address.
PayPal is the largest payment processor, but when it comes to not verified accounts, they are the company that limits accounts easily. So make sure to add all your real details when you sign up. However, there are other good companies and you can start your business with them. Read: online payment processors like PayPal.
Business license (if needed)
The biggest part of the small businesses don’t need a business license, especially those who sell digital products like e-books, themes, software and so on. However, some niches such, as health and medical products need permissions and that depends on your location, by state or country.
The best advice is to visit your state or county’s website, and look for a business section where they list the business that needs a certification online. At the same time, you can get very detailed information asking a lawyer, in your region, find them in person, or, simply, ask questions in popular sites such as Answers.
That website is the largest answers community and you can get explanations from experts. Make sure to include your state or county and all the helpful information you can, surely, you will get answers for your exact situation.
These are the most important part to start selling products online. Of course you need to work hard to succeed, but remember that every online business needs patience and hard work. It’s the only way to succeed. Ask people you know who are successful in a similar business to yours, they can help in many ways.
Fathi Arfaoui: A Physicist, founder and owner of Trustiko.com. He shares Business, WordPress, Web Safety, and Blogging tips to build better websites and blogs. Thus, you will succeed online with the right marketing strategies and recommendations. Of course, you’ll find much more topics.