Don’t let any high street business tell you that online retailers have an unfair advantage. Selling online is difficult. It’s labor-intensive and contrary to popular belief can be very expensive. In the 16-years (or so) I have been working in the online environment, I’ve met many busy fools who have worked all the hours that God sends only to see their wafer thin margins destroyed by the high costs of selling online
Successful online retailers know how to optimize their businesses and streamline time-consuming tasks allowing them to focus on the business of generating profits by reducing costs and maximizing on opportunities.
There are a number of cost effective marketing strategies (I don’t like to think in terms of cheap or expensive when it comes to marketing – just what works and what doesn’t work) to help online retailers gain a competitive advantage.
- Online Marketplaces: eBay, Amazon, Play.com, etc. allow retailers to place their products in front of a potentially massive audience at very little upfront cost. Yes – the fees can be considerable, the competition can be cut-throat and the marketplace will often claim the customer as their own – preventing you from re-marketing to them (there are ways around this). But compare this to the expense of driving traffic to your own store via Paid Search and SEO and then consider the speed you can be up and selling via the online marketplaces. The benefits of selling via online marketplaces far outweigh any disadvantages.
- Research: Wouldn’t it be great to know how well your stock was going to sell and at what price before you even ordered it. Research tools like Terapeak give marketplace (specifically eBay) sellers detailed insight which can prove invaluable at giving you the competitive edge and help form a wider multi-channel strategy.
- Your Own Webstore: In an ideal world you will want to sell via your own ecommerce platform and cut out all those profit crunching marketplace seller fees. Bespoke website builds can be very expensive. Thankfully there are a huge range of low-cost, professional solutions available to the small business marketer who wants to take their first steps on the e-commerce ladders. I recommend you take a look at BigCommerce, Volusion or Magento Go.
- Multi-Channel Software: Managing and optimizing listings across multiple online marketplaces and webstores is both time consuming and soul destroying work. Tools like SellerExpress can help you take control of your day and maximize your opportunity by controlling everything from a single interface and freeing you up to concentrate on more lucrative tasks than listing and processing orders.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is still the most cost effective online marketing technology available to today’s online retailer. iContact (Email Marketing by Vocus) recently published a great guide to help you take your first steps into and see your first profits from email marketing.
- Finance: Let’s face it your bank manager probably doesn’t understand your online business. Don’t let cash flow prevent you from seizing a great opportunity when you see it. Online services like Kabbage may be able to help you fund your stock purchases helping you to become a more efficient buyer.
- Content: Content isn’t king, it’s a foot soldier going out into the world and fighting for your business. Any business worth its salt can maximize its SEO efforts by investing in a good blog using a free service like WordPress. Online news release distribution systems like PRWeb also provide very cost effective method of getting your story out there beyond the reach of your social media activity and email subscriber base.