Whatever you’ve heard about starting an online business, it’s probably true. It’s a competitive playground that challenges even the savviest entrepreneurs, but the overwhelming consensus is that setting up an online store is worth any upfront hassle.

One of the best parts about it is that you can sell online beyond the borders of your city, your country, or even continent without ever leaving your work desk! Once you get started, virtually anyone from anywhere in the world can become your customer.

But where do you start?

There are simple ways to figure out how to sell online, and they all stem from the answers to three basic questions – why, what, and how?

Here’s a guide of everything you need to know about how to sell online. It couldn’t get any easier.

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Why Knowing How to Sell Online Is a Good Way to Do Business 

Can you imagine your life without the internet? No emails, no last-minute shopping, no cat videos… Let’s just stop there.

That’s precisely why the eCommerce industry is living its golden age. Everyone is connected and cozily nestled in their little online bubbles with no intention of going back to the old ways. Plugging into this trend is beginning to look like the smartest way to start an online business.

Here’s more on why.

1. Your business goes where you go.

Let’s get this one out of the way first — forget about *real* vacations without a laptop, at least for the first year or so.

When you learn how to sell online, any place in the world can become your office, and more often than not, you’ll end up working weekends, nights, and holidays. The only difference is that you’ll do it with a smile on your face.

Work from the beach or your grandma’s garden — wherever you go, you’re just a tap (and a Wi-Fi connection) away from accessing your business. Everything you do must propel you towards success.

2. Cash-strapped? Start a business with a small investment!

The beauty of the online world is that you can get the business off the ground with very little initial investment. It depends, of course, on what kind of business you’re planning to start, but for the sake of this article, we’re assuming you have your mind set on running an online store. And when it comes to selling online, dropshipping seems to be the go-to strategy.

With minimum overheads, such as paying for the hosting of your website and running some online ads, you can sell online and build a profitable business in just a few months. And it’s not some kind of fantasy. There are real success stories to prove it.

3. You can make money 24/7.

Whereas physical shops are restricted to opening and closing times, online stores run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All the time. It doesn’t take a genius to see the potential in this business model. If you have a constant stream of traffic coming to your store and you optimize your conversions to a good standard, you can essentially make money in your sleep. 

This touches on another substantial benefit of selling online – if done right, it can be a sweet source of passive income. It is less time-intensive than, say, running a brick-and-mortar boutique because you don’t need to be present at all times. With automated inventory management and a robust online marketing plan, you can sell online with very little extra input from your side.

4. There’s a lot of room to grow.

Entrepreneurs often have to bend over backwards to keep increasing their sales. While you may have the hottest products in stock, it can be hard to find new customers and keep them loyal to your business. Taking up the option to sell online can fix this problem almost instantly. According to the latest eCommerce statistics, the number of online buyers is expected to reach 2.05 billion in 2020. That’s a lot of potential customers! What’s more, online shoppers are rapidly growing and are expected to hit a whopping 2.14 billion in 2021.

The takeaway? Entrepreneurs who are still on the fence about online selling should take action before they’re left in the dust. Plus, with so many strategies for selling online, it couldn’t be more simple to capitalize on the growing eCommerce trend.  

Now, that sounds like a dream come true.

Until you hit the next cornerstone of this process: What will I sell online?

Online Selling Ideas: Sourcing Products When You’re Stuck

Let’s leave the question of how to sell online for a moment and focus on WHAT things to sell instead. Finding a profitable idea is not an easy task, but you’ll be surprised at where you can find product recommendations. Sometimes, the answer might be hiding in plain sight. 

1. Piggyback on trends.

Who doesn’t want to be a trendsetter? A pioneering genius with a ground-breaking idea? It’s a blazing dream of many entrepreneurs. Yet, the eCommerce world isn’t always kind to unique online selling ideas. To get the sales engine running, an online store needs to serve a high demand in a market and tap into growing trends or top niches in 2020 that will define its profits.  

When you’re on the hunt for a money-making idea, it pays off to listen to what the customers want. Yes, I’m talking about the best-selling lists, trend reports, and product curation lists.

Start your initial product research by casting a wide net. First, review the new and upcoming trends on online retail giants, such as eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. What are the month’s top picks, most favorite products, or best-selling items? Can you spot any particular trends like colors, shapes, fabrics, or patterns?  

When you have a rough idea of what you want to sell online, it’s time to find a way to source these products for your online store. And one of the best places to look for dropshipping product ideas is Oberlo. Give its ‘Product Statistics’ a thorough look, and you’re almost guaranteed to find something that meets your needs. For example, products with more than 500 orders in the past 30 days are likely to sell well. Jump on these products quickly, so you can get ahead of the competition. 

Your next logical step is to choose high-margin products.

how to sell online

2. Aim for healthy margins.

What matters at the end of the day is how much money you get to keep. Healthy margins will determine the future of your eCommerce business, so you should do everything you can to invest your time and effort into products that will yield the best results. The average eCommerce gross margin is approximately 40 percent. However, every market and every product is different, so you should spend time analyzing the competition and the going rate.

Some of the easiest tactics you can use to maximize the profits include ensuring prominent website presence for your high-margin winners, putting them at the front of your marketing initiatives and cross-selling campaigns, and adding variations of the best-selling items (think different colors, sizes, and shapes).

Oberlo has a profit margin calculator that will give you a better idea of your options.

3. Follow in the footsteps of other eCommerce winners.

Why try to reinvent the wheel? Capitalizing on useful resources, such as Oberlo’s 100+ Best Products to Sell in 2020 ebook and ‘What to Sell’ section, is the ultimate shortcut to kicking off a successful online store. Don’t be discouraged from investing in a particular idea just because someone else is also doing it – the online world is big enough for all hustlers.  

how to sell online

How to Sell Online: Forging Your Way to Success

Now, we’re ready to answer the question of how to sell online. Here are a few strategies that you can put into action with ease.

1. Use existing sales gateways.

You can sell online through marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, but this strategy has its pros and cons. On the pro side, there’s an established, large community of returning customers that you can access. And for someone who’s just learning how to sell online, it’s a big deal to be able to tap into a vast pool of online shoppers that already trust the platform. Another big plus for eCommerce beginners is the opportunity to test the demand for the products they offer. In fact, you can even test one-product store ideas in which you build a brand around a single product. Once you establish a good sense of what’s popular, it’s time to start building an online store

So, why shift the strategy when it starts returning a profit? Many reasons. First, the big marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy will charge you a commission for every sale. Second, selling through a third-party will prevent you from building a personal relationship with your customers. In essence, you won’t be able to capture their email addresses, provide useful content, or run your own campaigns to generate more sales. What’s more, marketplaces can shut your store at any time, which is a costly and damaging process to go through.

2. Sell via social media platforms. 

Along with marketplaces, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram allow you to get your products in front of prospective customers. For instance, you can set up a Facebook shop to showcase your inventory to Facebook users. Those interested can then add your items to their cart and check out on the platform directly. But if you’d rather create an independent eCommerce website, Facebook still offers several ways to sell online; you can use your Facebook Business Page, run ads, and sell products in Facebook groups.

Social media allows you to work with influencers. You can give samples of your items to influencers in return for shoutouts. Identify some influencers in your niche by searching for relevant hashtags, then partner with them to promote your products through stories, videos, posts, and more.

If you’re looking to work with influencers, make sure to check out this bonus read: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Influencer Marketing

3. Create your own dropshipping website.

Thanks to platforms like Shopify, setting up your website is easier than ever. You can take advantage of free trials and endless online resources to get it off the ground in just a few days. 

Also, you can install a dropshipping app to eliminate the hassle of buying and storing inventory. It’s a great way to sell online due to its many advantages, but the most profound are, of course, minimum setup costs – since you don’t need to buy the inventory or manage a warehouse. There’s also the ability to offer an extensive selection of products, which helps to scale quickly, and the incredible flexibility that comes with the fact that you can run your business from anywhere in the world. It’s the perfect combo of potential and freedom that’s attracting the digital nomads and hustlers.

However, it’s not entirely hassle-free. With so many success stories fueling the interest in this market, the competition to sell online is high and growing, so it’s crucial you do your homework before jumping on board.

Some of the other most commonly cited problems, such as finding the right suppliers, can be solved by integrating with existing eCommerce tools. With 2,000-plus, five-star reviews and a free starter plan, Oberlo is one of the most popular choices when it comes to importing products to your online store and managing inventory.

How to Sell Online – Final Thoughts 

Let’s look at it this way – an online store is almost free to set up, no initial investment means there are very few risks involved, and the factors determining your business’ success are entirely in your control. If you have the time and resources for going at it alone, then remember – sooner is better than later.  

Want to Learn More?

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!