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6 Tips To Help You Choose The Right Online Sales Platform

Selling online is one of the most convenient ways to sell today. You don't need a bricks-and-mortar store to pay rent on. You just need to choose the right sales platform that suits your product, technical expertise and financial capabilities. Such a platform will greatly simplify the entire selling process for you. How to make selling online as easy as possible?

6 Tips To Help You Choose The Right Online Sales Platform
Source: Depositphotos

1. Know what you want

The first step in choosing the right sales platform is to think carefully about what you need. The platform you choose should meet your ideas and expectations, but at the same time be able to adapt to the development of your business in the future.

Before choosing a specific platform, answer the following questions

  • What are you selling – is it a physical product, a digital product or both?
  • Who is your target audience – age, gender, education, digital skills, etc.?
  • Where will you promote your product – will you use social media, email marketing, your website or blog, etc.?
  • How many products or services will you be selling?
  • Will you need to connect to payment gateways?
  • Will the sales platform need to interface with web development tools?
  • Will you want to track marketing information about your customers?
  • Will you need to connect the platform to billing software?
  • Once you have an idea of what you need from a sales platform, it will be much easier to choose one.

2. Focus on key features

The second point is closely related to the first. If you read the specifications of the platforms, you will come across the different features they offer. These features are not just add-ons. They are the foundation of a successful business. Your chosen platform should definetelly include these basic features:

  • Connection to a payment gateway – let your customers choose the payment method that suits them best. Allow them to pay by bank transfer, QR code, online credit card, PayPal virtual wallet, etc
  • Link to your accounting system – with a link, you’ll be able to keep track of costs and expenses, sales, issuing and sending payments, tracking payments, etc
  • Link to marketing tools – your sales platform should support integration with marketing tools that give you insight into your customers’ behaviour or analytics data, for example. It should also support tools to measure conversions, link to your email system, CRM software, etc
  • Content management system support – the sales platform should be able to communicate with the content management system that runs your website
  • Graphic customisation – the graphic design of the sales platform should match the visual identity of your brand or product. You should be able to create visually appealing content on the platform

3. Explore the basic types of platforms

There are several ways to sell online. As you make your choices, you will come across specific selling platforms. But before you choose one, you should know what category they fall into and what the advantages and disadvantages are there.

Selling through an online marketplace

Online marketplaces are platforms that bring together products from different merchants in one place. Online marketplaces are like department stores where different merchants (brands) sell their goods. Marketplaces do not buy or sell goods. They just allow merchants to have their “shop” there. Simply put, they facilitate contact between buyers and sellers.

Advantages of selling on a marketplace:

  • These platforms take care of your marketing and visibility
  • You don’t have to worry about your own e-store, so you save costs
  • You can reach a greater number of potential customers
  • The marketplace keeps up with the times and knows what today’s customers want, so you don’t have to

Disadvantages of this way of selling:

  • You pay fees and commissions to operate and manage the products
  • You have to follow set rules, which limits your control and flexibility
  • You face a lot of competition marketing in the same way as you
  • You are dependent on what happens in your chosen online marketplace

Selling via All-in-One

All-in-one refers to tools that provide sellers with complete support for selling goods online. It is a convenient solution, especially if you are starting a business. You don’t have to worry about anything extra. Everything is in one place.

Advantages of selling with all-in-one tools:

  • Combining several tools needed for online sales in one tool
  • Easy to manage and operate
  • Start selling quickly
  • You don’t waste time learning different selling systems
  • You save time because you don’t have to search for the tools you need to sell
  • Your shop, order, inventory and customer data is all in one place, making it easy to manage and analyse

Disadvantages of selling with all-in-one tools:

  • A combination of pre-selected tools may limit your ability to customise the design and features to suit your needs
  • The total price for a complete solution may be higher than if you paid for the tools separately
  • Some packaged tools may limit your access to customer data, which can make it difficult to build your own database and analyse customers
  • You have to do your own marketing and promotion, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is that you pay no fees for this service. The disadvantage is that you have to learn the ropes of the promotion business

Selling through self-hosted forms

If you want more control over the graphic design and behaviour of your shop, you can rely on sales forms. Simply embed the form into your website, giving you maximum control over your store and sales processes. Popular sales forms include:

  • Supports the most popular payment methods
  • Works with accounting programs
  • Supports WordPress, Wix and MioWeb editing interfaces
  • Is compatible with many marketing and email tools
  • Can be integrated with your accounting software
  • It takes care of the automatic shipping of the digital product after payment
  • Automatically creates and sends invoices
  • Keeps track of invoices,
  • Notify you of unpaid invoices
  • You can use it to set up membership areas on your website, etc
  • You only pay for the use of the form when you make a sale

How does a sale work in practice? You upload the products you are selling (online sales of books, e-books, videos, courses, documents, physical goods, etc.) to your website or sales form and then insert the sales form. Customers use the sales form to select a product or service, enter their details and pay.

It’s good to know that sales forms work best for selling digital products. You can also use them for physical goods, such as clothing, but more likely in smaller quantities. This is because sales forms usually can’t categorise goods into categories, subcategories, etc.

The process of buying through self-hosted forms is that the customer selects the goods, pays for them and the platform automatically ships the digital products. In the case of physical products, of course, you have to take care of the delivery to the address yourself.

Advantages of selling via sales forms:

  • You have more control over the design
  • You have more control over the features of your site
  • You do not have to comply with third party rules
  • You usually only pay a flat commission on sales, so you save on costs

Disadvantages of selling through a form

  • Not suitable for a large online store with a wide range of products
  • You must have your own website to upload the form to sell

Source: Depositphotos

4. Ease of use experience

To make selling as convenient as possible for you and buying as easy as possible for your customers, the selling platform you choose should be as user-friendly as possible. The platform you choose should be easy for beginners to use, but also offer advanced features for more advanced users. It should also be flexible and able to grow with your business.

It is best if the platform offers a trial period during which you can use it free of charge. Usually you will get a month’s free usage. This gives you a chance to see if the platform is right for you, or if you should look elsewhere.

5. Safe sales and support at your fingertips

When selling online, you need to be aware of the many pitfalls. Various cyber-attacks are trying to get their hands not only on your data, but also on your customers’ personal details, not to mention the money in their bank accounts.

When choosing a sales platform, be sure to find out what kind of privacy and technical support they offer. Ask those questions:

  • How your data and your customers’ data will be protected
  • Security policy
  • Security of data transfer
  • The security of the payment gateway
  • The regularity of updates to the platform’s protection systems
  • The frequency of outages or unavailability of platform services

Of course, customer support is also important, which you will appreciate especially when you start your business. Some of the platforms offers customer support via email and phone or support you with clear videos or tutorials to help you solve many problems.

6. Think about the cost

As the saying goes, nothing is free. And so it is with sales platforms. But consider not only the upfront costs, but also the long-term costs. Prices and fees vary from platform to platform. Some, for example, charge a flat monthly fee whether you sell or not. Others charge a percentage of your sales. Find out how much other apps cost, how much maintenance will cost you, and watch out for hidden fees. Fees may vary:

  • Packages – platforms usually offer several packages with different features. So you pay for the features you need at the time
  • Percentage of sales – you pay the platform a percentage of your sales or turnover. If you don’t want to pay a fixed amount, but prefer to pay a fee based on your performance, this is the way to go. Paying a percentage of sales has no limit on the amount you pay per month. The advantage of this payment method is that you have full access to the platform, but you only pay when you sell.

The right platform will not only be user-friendly for you as a merchant, but also for your customers. It will also meet your feature requirements. Make sure that your chosen platfrom is safe and won’t take money from you unnecessarily.

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