Do you have a store that sells a product? Perhaps you have been serving your local community for sometime now, expertly selling your product. You would like find new customers and increase sales. You know that the Internet has been responsible for creating wealth for countless entrepreneurs, but you still have not figured out how the Internet can help your business.
If you are a small to medium size retailer or wholesaler who would like to learn how the Internet can create more revenue with minimal cost increase, then this article is for you. If you already have a web store, and are not happy with you current results, this article will be helpful to you as well.
Why limit your sales to your local community when the whole world is available to sell to? If you sell items that are shippable, then you owe it to yourself and your business to establish an e-commerce platform. The following information will help you get ready for this transition. You will either need to have a member of your staff who is very Internet and computer savvy, or you will need to hire an outside Internet Marketing company.
1. Prepare your inventory
First, make sure that you have an accurate count of your existing stock. There is nothing worse than selling a product on your website only to go to find that it's not on the shelf when you go ship. This creates multiple problems.
First, you need to figure out if you can actually fulfill the order. Can you restock the item fast enough so that the customer will still be satisfied?
Secondly, you will need to contact your customer and break the news. If you are unable to fulfill their order, I recommend offering a coupon with a discount-off their next order. You need to convince your customer that you are not in the habit of selling items you do not have. You also need to entice them to try your shop again when they have the need again. I usually offer a 10% off coupon code that can be used one time. Do not forget to refund their money PROMPTLY!
If you are able to restock and fulfill the order, tell the customer immediately that there will be a delay. DO NOT wait for them to contact you looking for their order. Its better that they know the same day they place the order. I recommend contacting them via telephone and following up with an e-mail. This will tell your customer that there is a living, breathing person behind this website that they justave their money to. I recommend offering to refund their money immediately if the new timeframe does not work for them. If you do these things, more than likely the customer will be understanding and accept the later shipment. Offer them a coupon for their next order!
The lesson learned here is: be sure you know what's on the shelf before you start selling to the rest of the world.
Specific Details on Inventory Preparation
For every item that you plan to sell on the web, gather and catalog the following information:
1. Item Name
2. A unique id number (if it has a bar code, use it!)
3. Item Description
4. Unit of Measure (each, case, etc)
5. Weight – Use pounds and ounces in the US
6. Item dimensions
7. Manufacturer Name
8. Manufacturer ID number
9. Your cost
10. Your listing price
11. MSRP (optional)
12. Any variations (color, size, etc.)
While performing this gathering of information, it is also a good idea to take a product photo or find one readily available on the web. Please try to size your photos to 800×600 pixels at 72 DPI. (Helpful hint: use your unique id number to name your photo: "uniqueid.jpg")
2. Prepare to accept web payments
• Go to your bank and request a merchant account. You can also call upon a virtual limitless pool of merchant services providers. Be sure to compare costs.
• Get an Authorize.net account
• Sign up for a Paypal account
3. Identify your shippers
• Generally, you will want to offer shipping through USPS, UPS and FedEx. If shipping large items that require a freight hauler, be sure to know who you will use and know how to access their rates.
• I recommend establishing online accounts with any agency you plan to ship with.
• If you do not already own a parcel scale, get one!
4. Gather sales tax information
In most states, you will need to charge sales tax to customers ordering and receiving goods in your home state. Some states have a different sales tax by county and municipality.
5. Construct your website and shopping cart
I recommend hiring someone who is knowledgeable …