With many people facing possible redundancy, there is a spike in people looking to start their own small business selling products online.
One of the hurdles stopping them is very often the issue of product management, shipping, postage, delivery and managing stock levels.
The key to being successful online lies not just with pricing but how you handle and distribute your products. Customers have so many shopping options depending on what they want to buy of course, but many turn immediately to mark places such as Amazon, eBay, Gumtree or Etsy. There is a lot of competition for most products, and therefore customer service and satisfaction are areas where you are going to need to compete.
The first decision to be made is what are you going to sell? There are lots of competitors in specific product categories, so it is essential to consider your niche. You will consider important factors such as:
- Demand for the product
- Suppliers, who can you get your products from.
- Pricing – how much will you need to pay for them and what can you sell them for.
- Profit – how much will you make on each sale.
- Advertising – how will you market your products and how much will it cost to secure a sale
- Warehousing & Storage – where will you store your products, and how will you manage inventory?
- What website will you need and how much will it cost to set it up?
- Will you sell your products on just your website or will you sell them on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay etc.
Once you have done your research and have found the products and suppliers, you will want to secure certain business assets quickly. Assets such as:
- Business name
- Limited company status
- Website domain name
- Register your business with HMRC
- VAT number
- EORI Number To Ship To Europe & Beyond
Once you have secured these, you will need a website to sell your products on. You will need an e-commerce website that is set up for hosting your products online and facilitating payments from your customers.
Once your website is populated with products and you have a working shopping cart, you are ready to sell online.
The next step is to think about how you are going to get new customers. As a new website, you will not get much organic traffic from Google as it takes time for Google to see your website as an authoritative website. You will initially want to consider promoting your website through:
- Social media
- Paid online adverts through Facebook, Google and Bing. You will pay for each visitor to your website, so it is advisable to seek professional help to keep control of your advertising budget
- Think about special offers and giveaways to promote your products.
- Referrals and recommendations from customers – perhaps offering a discount code for referred customers
- Maintain a database of customers and keep in touch with them regularly through social media and email marketing. It will be important for you to keep your brand visible to your customers.
Advertising your products online and making sales is just the start. You need to keep your customers happy. This starts with delivery. Your customers will be focused on:
- Delivery times – when will they get their product
- Packaging – How will the product be delivered
- Refund Policy – what is your refund policy
- Returns – what is your return policy and how will the return be handled.
Establishing a sustainable e-Commerce position is as much about using the right order-fulfilment strategies as it is about having the right product at the right price.
So how does order fulfilment work? What services does a fulfilment company include?
- RECEIPT OF GOODS. We store product information about all goods listed from an online platform. When products arrive into the warehouse, each item is scanned into onto our warehouse management system.
- Goods are stored safely in the warehouse, scanned against a unique warehouse identification number to shelving or pallet racking location. Storage type is agreed appropriately with a customer, for instance, a clothing seller may want their clothes stored on special hangers; others may have sensitive goods and wish them to be kept in closed rooms with limited access.
- ORDER PROCESSING. As an order is placed on an online store, it will feed through to the warehouse system via integration with the store, providing the warehouse with the bill of goods to be picked, the recipient and their address details with a shipping service agreed to raise a shipping consignment
- ORDER PICKING. The warehouse staff will receive several orders in batches, released to the handheld scanners and issuing a picking order in which they will collect the goods from storage to be brought back to a central packing area.
- Once items are in the packing area, packing staff will scan each item registering the order it’s for, and once the order is a complete package in a polybag or a box with wrap or void as required for the item. The system will then issue the packing team with shipping labels, packing slips and customs documentation where required to affix to the outside of the package.
- Customer returns are handled by a dedicated team and logged by quality and condition, booked to storage as a quarantined item if required, returns data transmitted back to the store owner to pass on the refund to the purchaser.
Other services include:
Tracking. Providing information on the status and location of the orders with the help of tracking services. It allows an online shop to track their goods and the buyer status of his order.
IT Services including integration with order fulfilment systems
There are several reasons why you want to consider using a fulfilment company to manage your inventory. Such as:
- Using a fulfilment company allows you the time to manage important tasks such as managing your website, advertising, managing suppliers etc.
- By using a fulfilment company, you are controlling your overheads associated with delivery. You need to know precisely what the delivery costs are.
- Quality of delivery service to the customer.
- Increase efficiency; you could be using your time to generate profit for the business
- Labour Costs. Outsourcing your fulfilment needs to Pointbid will reduce your overall employment costs and will ensure that on busy periods such as Christmas, you don’t need to worry about ramping up on staff numbers.
- One of your USP’s will be efficiency, and by outsourcing to Pointbid, you will be competing with the big companies. Keeping your customer satisfied is vital and is a primary concern for Pointbid.
If you are thinking about setting up a new eCommerce store, then make contact with us sooner rather than later. We are happy to guide you through the process; we have been helping eCommerce sellers for many years. We also work with other companies linked to the process and will be more than happy to make recommendations.
Contact us using the form below