Is your small business ready to sell products online?

 

Online auction sites have become a popular way...
Online auction sites have become a popular way to sell used goods in recent years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back I tried to get a copy of an album that hasn’t been available for a long time in music stores or second-hand CD and record shops. So I had to do a search online and eventually could only find the album on Amazon. The album was “Pick up a Bone” by Rupert Hine and was only available in a Japanese edition. I placed the order and received the product about a month later.

That’s the thing about ordering physical product online: it takes long to deliver unless you are prepared to pay what is sometimes three times the value of the physical product to get it sooner. If it’s a non–essential product, something that is more nostalgic or of entertainment value, then it might be worth the extra long wait. But if the products is essential for your business or a component that you need urgently, and the product or component is not available locally, then you need to decide whether you have to pay the steep courier costs.

Local buying of goods online can be convenient because products of delivered sooner and although the Post Offices is not always reliable when things do work through regular mail, the cost is reasonable. I have ordered some tea products from a rooibos manufacturer in Clanwilliam, Western Cape. The Post Office has delivered it within about 10 days. In this instance it is worthwhile to buy the tea product online because it is not available in supermarkets and is of far higher quality than what you can get from the big rooi bos brands. The tea works out at a fraction of the cost of what you would be able to get it for from your local supermarket.

Unless you have an easy-to-use check out system on your website, have a safe and secure payment system and have worked out a speedy shipment process, your potential customers will be frustrated when they try to buy physical product from your business. Electronic products, such as e-books is a different story. Digital books and music can be downloaded instantaneously. Physical product is also different because people will not buy online beyond a certain price threshold. It’s easier to seek alternatives locally that may not be exactly what you want but can do the job.

Some marketers who have business information that you can’t get anywhere else also believe that the customer values their physical product such as a manual with specialised information more than the electronic version. One marketer refuses to sell his product in electronic versions and will only supply you with a hard copy manual. He believes that a customer who is prepared to buy the physical product and wait for it is more valuable that than a potential customer who wants a PDF or e-book version. They are more committed to buying and will most likely use the information compared to the person who just wants the electronic version. If specialised business information is only available in printed form such as a book or manual, then there is no option but to buy the physical product.

Before you decide to sell physical products online, why not order some products from your competitors and other online retailers just to gain experience in what it’s really like to buy online.

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