You’ve crafted the perfect website for your business, including a working online store so customers can buy it directly from you. It’s beautifully made, and you are really proud of it. Congratulations!
But, if you specialize in B2C products, especially ones designed for a large market, having a website won’t be enough. The biggest challenge you’ll likely have is getting your product in front of people, and while a website is a good start, you’re going to have an uphill battle if that’s all you have.
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To help get your products in front of more people, make more sales and, in turn, make more money, it’s a smart idea to put your products on other websites and in stores. Here are some tips to doing it the right way so you can grow your business and sell more products.
Go with the Right Large Online Retailer
Good places to first start investigating are the largest online sellers like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Overstock. Each online store has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you need to find how those match your products. For example, Amazon sells a variety of things but doesn’t really specialize in any single thing. Compare that to Etsy, which is very specific in selling home-crafted items, especially decorative items.
Once you’ve found a good online retailer, then you need to figure out how to become a part of the website. For Amazon, it’s a pretty simple process of signing up, picking a plan on how you’ll pay Amazon, then listing your products. Other online retailers have similar processes for signing up, making it pretty easy to get on the website.
How to Find Success Selling with an Online Retailer
Selling on Amazon is different from selling on your own website. With your website, you can control each and every page, allowing you to highlight each product’s strengths, but on a retailer’s website, you don’t have that control. For the most part, you can include some photos, maybe a video, and then a description of the product.
So make sure you use the space you have properly to sell your product to customers. Include as many photos as possible and a video if that option exists. Include photos that give a good scale for your product’s size, highlight features, and even a person using the product.
Then, give as much relevant information you can in the product description. This includes size dimensions for the product, features, warnings, disclaimers, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Reviews are one aspect you don’t have control over, but they’re incredibly important for online sales. People are wary of scams buying online, and a product having no reviews is a huge red flag. So, once you start getting a few sales, push them hard to leave reviews. That includes including an incentive in the package when you ship the product, sending a follow up email asking for a review, and going above and beyond in your service to them. The more positive reviews you have, the more legitimate your business becomes, meaning you get more sales.
Getting in Retail Stores
There are pros and cons to selling online versus selling in a physical store. With some products, people prefer to buy solely online, but others are purchased mostly at local stores. If somebody doesn’t want to wait two days for a product, they’ll head over to a local store that carries it.
Depending on what you sell will vastly decide what kind of store you want to approach. It wouldn’t make sense to try and sell handmade decorative owls in an electronics store, just as it wouldn’t work selling home entertainment systems in a craft store. Other stores, like Walmart, Target, and major grocery chains, try to have a bit of everything and might be interested in your product.
Before you start pitching to the major retailers, look into smaller local stores to work out some of the kinks. Selling in a physical space is a different beast than online. You’ll need to design packaging that will stand out of shelving, find the right price points for being a supplier rather than a direct seller, and get a feel of local demand. Then, once you’ve workshopped out the bugs, you can start reaching out to more stores.
Many stores have a place on their website where you can apply to become a supplier, but that might not be enough. If your product has a strong local demand, consider reaching out to the regional manager or supplier relations specialist for local stores and pitch to them why your product sells well to a local audience. Often, stores will run a test of your product to see how well it sells, and if it does well, they’ll make a contract to sell for the long term.
Be aware, though, that sometimes when signing up to sell with retail stores, they might insist on exclusive rights to sell. That might mean not selling in other retail stores, online stores, or even direct selling on your own website. If you sell quite a bit on your own website or other stores, it might not be worth it to exclusively sell for a larger store without extra assurances it will sell.
Going to Relevant Trade Shows
Many supplier decision makers are always on the hunt for new products, and trade shows is one guaranteed place you’ll meet them. Many business executives go to relevant trade shows to see what is the latest and hottest in the industry and find products that will be a good fit for their stores.
Pick relevant trade shows, pay for a booth, and showcase your products. Don’t just go to the biggest trade show in your industry, as these will be the most crowded. Find smaller trade shows with less competition so you have a better chance to wow trade show visitors.
Just be aware that to find success at a trade show, your product needs to be flashy and impressive. That means demos, free samples, excitement, something worth seeing. Your booth needs to be the one everybody wants to visit. The design needs to be clean, fun to look at, and on the brand. Your message needs to be clear and easy to understand, along with how stores could easily sell it. If your product isn’t something that fits, you might be wasting your time going to a trade show.
Working with Stores to Market Your Product
Before in your marketing, it was your business versus the world. But when you team up with a store — online or physical — you have a partner. They want your product to sell and will want to help with your marketing efforts.
For an online store, that can mean buying up ad space on the website to promote your product or coordinating to be part of large sales. With a physical store, you might have less control of in-store promotions, but reach out to see how you can help. Maybe you’ll have an online sale of your product, but instead of hamstringing the product sold in stores, you tell them about the sale and encourage them to match your price.
Improve Your Approach After Every Failure
Just like any part of a business, the first couple of times you sell with a 3rd party, you’ll fail. Maybe your first attempt selling on Amazon doesn’t go well, or the first dozen pitches you send to stores get no responses. That doesn’t mean quit working at it. Think up something new, adapt your approaches and try again.
By finding the right places to sell your product while still pushing it with your own website, you’ll find additional revenue streams for your business. That, in turn, means you can grow, get into new stores, and continue moving upward.