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Selling online

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Two ways to sell online

More and more retail is moving online. But does it work? Is it worth trying? And how exactly do you go about setting up an online shop? We look at two ways.

1. Selling in online marketplaces

You can sell through marketplaces like Facebook, Ebay, Amazon or Etsy. These providers allow you to display products, charge customers, and process payments using their website. Of course they take a cut of each sale, but it’s generally fairly small.

2. Setting up your own online shop

To set up an online shop you will need four key things:



You will need to get a domain name (web address) and someone to host your site. You can often get both from the same provider. Ensure your host offers enough security to support ecommerce.



Your goods need to be displayed for shoppers. Invest in great photos because they do a lot of the selling, and add a written blurb. Include a big ‘Add to cart’ button and make it easy for people to keep shopping.



This is where the magic happens. The shopping cart allows customers to build orders and pay for them (then it will email them a receipt). It should allow you to apply extra charges for sales tax and shipping.



You'll need a control panel to manage your products, change prices, and view customer and sales traffic.

Options for creating an online shop

  • Custom build your own
    You can get a shop built from scratch and enjoy total control over almost every aspect of how it looks, feels, and works – at a price. 

  • Use an off-the-shelf template
    You’ll face some restrictions but you’ll get most modern ecommerce features for a modest monthly charge.

  • Get something kind-of customised
    You can buy an affordable template and hire a developer to make a few changes to create a one-of-a-kind look.

Shopify, BigCommerce, and Rocketspark can provide out-of-the-box online shops for your site.

Fees for selling online

It costs money to accept online payments. The companies that handle the transactions charge somewhere between 1% and 4% of the purchase price. 

Don’t forget to enter these charges into your business accounts as a cost. Preferably assign each charge to a specific transaction, so you can calculate the true profit on those sales. Online accounting software can do this for you.

Selling through multiple online shops

If you’re selling online, you might as well be in more than one place. You could have a shop on your website, plus one on Facebook and Amazon. There are thousands of people shopping on those websites, so it doesn’t hurt to be there too.

This is sometimes called multi-channel marketing and it’s a good way to maximise the effort you put into getting good product shots, writing descriptions, and organising shipping. You can use a lot of the same things over and over again on multiple channels.