092 · Selling Physical or Digital Products Online

It’s never been easier to launch an online sales business, and some people are even making a lot of money doing it today. Whether it’s physical or dematerialized products, there are all kinds of niches that can still be exploited, despite the ever-increasing popularity of this activity. But where to start? How do you stand out in this sea of opportunities? In this article, we’ll look at how you too can successfully start selling products online.

Why sell online?

That’s right, why? After all, there are already plenty of online stores and platforms and therefore, plenty of people already operating this type of business, which means that this market is highly competitive, if not completely saturated, right? Well, it’s true that there are a huge number of sales sites and that making money with an online store today is more difficult than it was 5 or 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible—far from it.

Successful selling is still possible, but it requires more than ever method, reflection, and a bit of learning. The equation remains as simple as always since it’s a question of presenting the right product to the right people, but it’s how you go about it that requires more attention. In this article, we’ll take a look at the options available to you for selling products online, how to find the right products, and other important related topics.

What are the advantages of selling online?

There are several advantages to selling products online. The first, and probably the most obvious, is reach. With an e-commerce site, there are no borders, and you can sell your products to someone across the street or on the other side of the planet. This global accessibility opens up a huge market, far larger than that of a traditional physical store, as you can imagine.

Then there are the costs! Setting up an e-commerce site can be considerably less expensive than opening a physical store—no rent to pay, no exorbitant electricity bills and, in some cases, no need to physically stock your products thanks to models like dropshipping (I’ll come back to this later).

Online business also offers unparalleled flexibility. You can manage your site wherever you are as long as you have an Internet connection. What’s more, your store is open 24/7, so there’s no need to post opening/closing times, and customers can shop whenever they like.

Finally, one of the greatest advantages of online sales is the possibility of using a number of tools and techniques to analyze your site’s traffic, understand your customers’ likes and dislikes, see how they navigate through your pages, and gather other important information that helps you optimize every element of your store.

What to sell in your online store?

The first question that arises when thinking about starting an online business is: “What am I going to sell?” The key here is to find a profitable niche, a unique combination of what you’re really passionate about and what’s in demand in the marketplace.

It’s essential to start with what drives you. Whether it’s a passion for fashion, a talent for craftsmanship, or expertise in a specific field, tap into what motivates you. Genuine passion will be felt in the quality of your products and service and will naturally attract your target clientele.

However, passion alone is not enough. It’s crucial to conduct thorough market research to make sure there’s a demand for what you want to offer. Use online tools such as Google Trends, Explodingtopics or Treendly to analyze current trends and identify gaps in the market or social networks to conduct surveys and get direct feedback from potential customers.

And then there’s the competition. Who are the major players in your niche? What do they offer, and at what price? SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz are tools that will help you in this task, via keyword research. This will also give you an idea of what’s working and where you can innovate.

And don’t forget the practical side. Make sure you have the resources, whether financial, material, or time, to support your choice. If you’re selling physical products, you’ll probably need to consider the logistics of storage and shipping.

I’ve written a blog post explaining in more detail all the aspects of opening an online store, including a chapter explaining in more detail what a niche is and how to find the one that suits you best, so I invite you to go and read that too.

Example of online product sales: T-shirts Selling products online such as clothing, and T-shirts in particular, is often very successful.

Themes and plugins?

You’ll see these two terms appear several times in this article and also on the platforms you’ll be using to build your online store, so let’s take a quick look at what they’re all about.

Thèmes (or templates) are predefined models that determine the look and layout of a website. They define the visual aspect of the site, from the header to the navigation bar, including the product layout. By selecting a theme, you can quickly give your site a professional design without needing coding or webdesign skills. Most online business-building platforms offer a variety of themes, both free and paid, suitable for different business sectors.

Plugins (or apps) are extensions or add-ons that add specific functionality. These tools extend the basic capabilities of a platform. For example, a plugin might allow you to add customer reviews, offer special discounts or integrate additional payment options. Depending on your specific store needs, you can install these plugins to further personalize your site and enhance the customer experience. Note that here too there are both free and paid plugins.

What are the different ways of selling online?

There are a plethora of ways to sell physical or virtual products online. And to be precise, there are 3 distinct categories, each offering different options and with certain advantages and disadvantages, as we’ll now see.

1Marketplaces

This is certainly the simplest and quickest solution to set up. A marketplace is an online platform that brings together buyers and sellers. It enables various merchants, whether individuals or companies, to offer their products or services for sale. For consumers, they offer a centralized place to search, compare, and buy these offers. You should also be aware that some of these marketplaces are fairly generalist while others are focused on a very specific market.

Pros

  • Immediate access to a vast audience.
  • Infrastructure already in place, minimizing the technical learning curve.
  • Integrated tools for managing transactions and reviews.

Cons

  • Intense competition from numerous sellers.
  • Commission fees on each sale.
  • Little control over branding and product presentation.
  • Scams are more common than elsewhere, so it’s best to be cautious.

Here are a few of the most popular marketplaces:

  • Facebook Marketplace: A platform integrated into the Facebook social network, it enables users to list, sell, and buy items locally. It features mainly used goods but also new products, both physical and dematerialized.
  • Amazon: A global e-commerce giant, Amazon offers a vast range of new and used products, sold both by Amazon itself and by third-party merchants via its marketplace.
  • eBay The pioneer of online auctions, eBay is an international platform enabling individuals and professionals to sell new and used items by auction or at a fixed price.
  • Etsy: This specialized marketplace showcases handmade, vintage, and creative supplies, favoring independent artisans and designers.
  • Rakuten: Originating in Japan, Rakuten is an online marketplace offering a wide range of products sold by a variety of merchants.
  • Vinted: A platform dedicated to second-hand fashion, Vinted enables users to sell, buy, or exchange clothing, shoes, and accessories.
  • Walmart: One of the largest retail chains in the U.S., Walmart’s online marketplace allows third-party sellers to reach a vast audience. Offering a variety of products, from electronics to clothing, its reputation for low prices attracts a broad consumer base.
  • Best Buy: Best known for its electronics and appliances, Best Buy’s online marketplace welcomes third-party sellers, expanding their product assortment beyond just electronics. This platform is ideal for sellers specializing in tech products and accessories.
  • ASOS: Based in the UK, ASOS Marketplace is a platform for vintage boutiques and independent brands. Catering mainly to a younger demographic, it’s perfect for unique fashion brands looking to reach a global audience.

2Website builders

This and the next option allow you to build your own online store. Let’s start with website builders, which are online tools or platforms that enable users to create websites without any particular knowledge of programming or web design. Users can generally choose from predefined templates, customize content, and design via a drag-and-drop interface, and publish the site once satisfied.

Pros

  • Intuitive, fully visual interface, often based on drag & drop.
  • Hosting included, reducing technical hassle.
  • Regular updates and technical support included.

Cons

  • Less flexibility than a CMS solution (which I’ll talk about next).
  • Monthly fees can add up, especially with additional features.

Some of the most popular website builders:

  • Shopify: A leading e-commerce platform, Shopify is specifically designed to enable users to create and manage their own online store through a multitude of templates, integrated inventory, and payment management tools, and a vast ecosystem of third-party applications. Shopify is a complete solution for those looking to sell online, whether they’re beginners or experienced.
  • Shift4Shop: A complete e-commerce solution, designed to help businesses of all sizes launch, manage and grow their online stores. With a variety of integrated features, from website design to payment management to marketing, Shift4Shop is positioned as an all-in-one platform for online entrepreneurs.
  • Wix: Originally a general website-building platform, Wix has extended its capabilities to offer robust e-commerce solutions. Thanks to its drag-and-drop interface, users can create a customized online store. Wix also offers integrated functionality for product management, payments, and marketing campaigns.
  • Squarespace: Known for its elegant designs, Squarespace also offers e-commerce tools enabling designers to sell products or services. The templates on offer are visually impressive, and the platform offers a comprehensive range of features for managing your store.
  • Weebly: Acquired by Square, Weebly offers an easy, high-performance website creation solution with integrated e-commerce options. The interface is straightforward, making online store creation accessible even to non-technical users.
  • : An e-commerce solution that lets users add an online store to any existing website. What sets it apart is its ability to integrate easily with established web platforms, such as WordPress, Joomla, or even social networks like Facebook. With its user-friendly interface, Ecwid is designed for those who already have a website but want to integrate sales functionalities without starting from scratch.
A screenshot from Shopify Shopify offers a variety of valuable tools for analyzing your online store’s traffic and sales.

3CMS

CMS (Content Management Systems) are software platforms for creating, managing, and publishing content on the web. Specifically for e-commerce, they offer all the functionalities needed to set up and manage online stores. Although CMS can be more technical and time-consuming to use than turnkey solutions such as website builders, they offer complete freedom over the design and evolution of projects. This flexibility comes from the ability to fully customize the store, integrate a multitude of extensions, and adapt the site to specific needs. For those looking for a unique, tailor-made solution, despite a steeper learning curve, CMS are often the preferred choice.

Pros

  • Total flexibility in terms of design and functionality.
  • Ability to integrate a large number of plugins, often free of charge.
  • Complete control over SEO and other aspects of the site.

Cons

  • Requires some technical expertise to set up and manage.
  • Additional fees may apply for hosting, themes, or extensions.

The most popular (e-commerce-compatible) CMS:

  • WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce extension for WordPress, one of the world’s most popular CMS. It transforms any WordPress site into a robust and functional online store. With WooCommerce, users enjoy great freedom of customization, being able to adjust both the design and functionality of their store. Thanks to a vast library of plugins and themes, it’s possible to add specific functionalities and adapt the store to various needs. Although it does require a degree of technical expertise, WooCommerce is acclaimed for its flexibility, power, and the fact that it can be used free of charge.
  • Adobe Commerce (Magento): Although being a bit more complex and requiring more technical skills, Adobe Commerce is a powerful and highly customizable e-commerce platform. Ideal for medium-sized to large businesses, it offers advanced functionalities and the possibility of integrating a multitude of extensions.
  • Prestashop: A “made in France” open source solution specifically dedicated to e-commerce, PrestaShop is appreciated for its flexibility and intuitiveness. Users can choose from a variety of themes and add-ons to build a store that meets their precise needs.
  • BigCommerce: Featuring an intuitive user interface and powerful integrated functionality, this platform offers merchants a robust solution without the need for advanced technical skills. With its numerous integrations, conversion-optimized themes, and advanced marketing tools, BigCommerce is a popular option for those looking to maximize their online sales. What’s more, it includes multichannel selling, enabling merchants to sell on platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, and eBay.

In short, the choice of online sales platform will depend on your priorities, be they simplicity, flexibility, or access to an established audience. The options I’ve just presented range from the simplest and fastest, but with the least flexibility, to the opposite. So, take the time to weigh up the pros and cons of each option before making your choice.

What are the steps involved in setting up an online store?

The first step is to design your e-commerce site if you have chosen this option. This includes choosing a design or theme that reflects your brand identity while ensuring a fluid and intuitive user experience. The visual aspect is paramount: It must not only attract the customer but also facilitate navigation to lead to a sale. Also consider mobile optimization as an increasing number of purchases are made via smartphones and tablets.

The second stage focuses on the logistics of setting up your product catalog. This involves adding your products, configuring prices, managing inventory, and setting up detailed and attractive descriptions. What’s more, setting up secure and diversified payment methods and managing deliveries (charges, delivery zones, lead times) are crucial elements in reassuring your customers and facilitating the purchasing process.

Finally, once your store is up and running, the next step is to take care of the marketing and promotional aspects of your business. This includes search engine optimization (SEO), setting up advertising campaigns (such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads), developing a content strategy for your blog if you decide to create one (I advise you to do so), and establishing a presence on social networks to interact with your target clientele. It’s all about getting the word out about your website, generating quality traffic, and ultimately, increasing your sales.

If you’d like to know more, I’ve written a complete article on creating an online store, as well as one on digital marketing and another on SEO.

How to sell on a marketplace?

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in creating an account on an online marketplace and how to successfully sell your products.

Step 1: Choosing the marketplace

The first step is to choose the marketplace that suits you best. Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Rakuten are some of the popular options I’ve already mentioned, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. So, reread this chapter carefully to find the one that best suits your products and business model.

Step 2: Creating a seller account

Once you’ve chosen a marketplace, the next step is to create a seller account. This process varies from platform to platform but generally requires information such as your name, address, bank details, and tax information. Make sure you have all the necessary documents to hand to facilitate registration (especially if you have a company).

Step 3: Product listing

Once your account has been created, you can start listing your products. Each marketplace has its own specifics for listing, including photo quality, product descriptions, and pricing options. Take the time to create high-quality listings, containing compelling text and eye-catching images to grab buyers’ attention.

Step 4: Optimize for search

To make sure your products are visible, you’ll need to optimize each product listing for search within the marketplace, but also on search engines such as Google or Bing. Use relevant keywords, powerful titles, and detailed descriptions to improve your chances of being discovered by potential customers. There are all kinds of SEO techniques you can apply here, so be sure to read my article on the subject.

Step 5: Order management and customer service

Once the sales start coming in, effective order management and customer service become crucial. Answer customer queries, process orders promptly, and ensure that products are delivered on time.

Step 6: Analysis and adjustment

Marketplaces often offer analysis tools to track your sales, clicks, and other important metrics. Use this data to adjust your listings, pricing and promotional strategies to improve your sales performance.

Selling on a marketplace is a great way to get started in the world of online sales. It allows you to quickly test the potential of the products you’ve chosen, and also to see whether you’re good at selling or not, and above all, whether you like it. What’s more, you’ll be able to reach a wide audience without the complications and imperatives associated with running an e-commerce site. And if all goes well, you’ll be able to create your own online store later on, using a website builder or CMS.

Le dropshipping: a stockless alternative

As I mentioned earlier, dropshipping is a simplified way of running an online store, eliminating the need for inventory management. Dropshipping works via a very specific partnership between merchant and supplier: rather than stocking products in a commercial space, the store owner lets the supplier take care of warehousing, packaging, and shipping. When an order is placed, it goes directly to the supplier, who takes care of shipping.

The advantages of dropshipping are manifold: There’s no need to rent warehousing space or invest in stock. This makes starting up an online store much more accessible since the initial budget is limited. However, reliance on third parties for inventory management and delivery can lead to quality control problems and longer shipping times. In addition, margins can be lower as the cost of products sold via dropshipping can be higher than if you bought them wholesale.

I won’t dwell on this subject here as I’ve written an article specifically dedicated to dropshipping. Go and read it if you’re interested.

Is it better to sell physical or digital products?

It’s a valid question, one that many young merchants ask themselves, and one that deserves a little thought. In fact, each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will largely depend on your expertise, resources, and objectives.

Physical products

Physical products are tangible goods that require manufacturing, storage, and delivery to reach consumers. This is the most traditional option in the world of commerce, going back to the origins of trade and the market. Examples of physical products are extremely varied, ranging from clothing to electronics, furniture, toys, and even foodstuffs.

Pros

  • Gift-giving and sharing: Physical products can be given as gifts, expanding their market potential. The fact that a product can be packaged and offered as a gift can be a major selling point during festive periods or other special occasions.
  • Demonstrability: Physical products can be shown and demonstrated in real-life situations, whether in a video or in a physical store. This demonstration can help customers understand the value of the product, increasing confidence and the likelihood of purchase.
  • Multi-channel selling: With physical products, you have the flexibility to sell both online and offline. Whether in physical stores, markets, trade shows, or other events, you can reach customers who prefer shopping in person.
  • Perception of value: People often feel that physical products have a higher intrinsic value than digital ones.
  • No piracy issues: No risk of being pirated or illegally downloaded, unlike digital products.

Cons

  • Logistics: You’ll need to manage storage, shipping, and possibly returns.
  • Initial costs: Producing and storing physical products often requires a higher initial investment.
  • Geographical limitations: Shipping costs and delays may limit your potential market.
Electrical appliances in the kitchen If you can get good prices, electrical appliances for the kitchen are a very interesting physical product niche.

Digital products

In contrast, digital products are intangible goods that exist only in electronic form and are distributed online. These products are created once and can be sold to an unlimited number of people without additional production or storage costs. Digital products encompass a wide range of items, including but not limited to ebooks, software, video games, online training, digital photography, video, and music. These are products you can sell to anyone with an internet connection, giving you global market potential without the logistical hassle of physical products.

Pros

  • Ease of execution: Unlike physical products, digital products have no reproduction costs once created. This means they can be duplicated ad infinitum at no extra cost, boosting profit margins and making the business model more sustainable in the long term.
  • No physical logistics: No worries about storage, shipping, or returns management.
  • Global market: Digital products can be sold to anyone in the world, without having to worry about shipping costs or delivery times.
  • Easy updates: One of the great advantages of digital products is the ease with which they can be updated. If you need to correct an error (in an ebook, for example), add content or make any other changes, you can usually do so quickly at no extra cost.
  • Automating the sales process: The sale of digital products can often be fully automated, from payment to delivery. This automation saves you time and reduces operational costs, which can be particularly beneficial for small businesses or solo entrepreneurs.

Cons

  • Piracy: The biggest disadvantage is that these digital products are more likely to be pirated or distributed illegally. Various protection systems exist, but they are generally expensive and fallible.
  • Increased competition: The market for digital products is often more saturated, requiring a strong differentiation strategy and effective promotion to stand out from the competition.

Selling services?

It’s also possible to sell services online, and this is an area that has grown quite rapidly in recent years, thanks in particular to the many freelance platforms such as Fiverr, UpWork, PeoplePerHour or ComeUp that have emerged since the late 2010s. These work like marketplaces, where service providers offer a wide variety of services, such as content writing or editing, graphic design, programming, digital marketing, SEO, etc., that customers can purchase. I invite you to read this article if you’re interested.

There’s also SaaS (Service As A Software), a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a third-party service provider and made available to users via the Internet. Instead of purchasing and installing software on individual computers or local servers, users access the software and its functionality via a web browser. Common examples of SaaS include Google Workspace, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, etc. But here we’re getting off topic (or at least into a much more specialized area) and, no, I haven’t (yet) written an article on the subject.

What to sell in your online store?

If you’re looking to start selling online, the choice of products you offer is crucial to your success. Here are a few examples of niches that offer great potential but are not yet (totally) saturated by the competition.

Physical products

  • Ecological and sustainable products: More and more consumers are aware of the environmental impact of their purchases, and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional products can attract a committed clientele.
  • Pet accessories: Pet owners are often willing to spend money on the comfort and well-being of their four-legged (or feathered or finned) friends. Unique or innovative products in this field, such as interactive toys or specialized health items, can therefore find their place on the market.
  • Specialty foods: Whether for health reasons or food preferences, the market for specialty foods such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or organic continues to grow. Innovative products can attract loyal customers.
  • Home automation (domotics): With the rise of technology, smart home products are increasingly in demand. However, this market is not yet completely saturated, especially if you can offer solutions that are more affordable or easier to use than those currently available.
  • Sleep wellness products: Quality sleep is a growing concern, and products such as ergonomic mattresses, blankets with original designs, or essential oil diffusers with beneficial properties can find their audience.
  • Urban gardening equipment: With more and more people living in restricted spaces but wanting to grow their own plants, gardening equipment adapted to an urban environment (compact planters, irrigation systems for small spaces, etc.) has growth potential.
  • Kitchen gadgets: Home cooking is booming, especially with the popularity of recipe-sharing platforms and cooking shows. Unique or innovative kitchen gadgets that make cooking easier or more fun can attract a lot of attention.
  • Technical clothing and sportswear: With growing awareness of health and well-being, technical clothing that offers additional benefits (such as temperature regulation, water resistance, etc.) may have a competitive edge.
Best-sellers on Amazon The best way to find out which products are doing well is to check out the best-sellers section on e-commerce platforms like Amazon, for example.

Digital products

  • Event planning kits: Digital kits to help plan specific events such as themed weddings, birthday parties, or adventure trips could find an interesting niche. These kits could include checklists, budget templates, and creative ideas.
  • Filters and presets for smartphone photography: With the marked improvement in camera quality on smartphones, many people are taking up mobile photography. Offering specific filters or presets for different types of photography (portrait, landscape, food, etc.) can meet a growing need.
  • Recipe e-books for specific diets: The specialty food market is growing, and this extends to recipe books. E-books targeting specific diets such as ketogenic, vegan, or FODMAP-free could sell well.
  • Meditation or mindfulness courses: Mental well-being is gaining in importance, and digital products that help people master meditation or mindfulness techniques may find their way onto the market.
  • Business plan or CV templates: Well-designed, easy-to-use templates for business plans or CVs can help those looking to change careers or start a business but find the process complicated or time-consuming.
  • Targeted physical training programs: Fitness training programs for specific needs, such as injury rehabilitation, strengthening for a specific sport, or even workout routines for people with desk jobs, can address very specific needs.

Bear in mind that whatever niche you choose, good market research, intelligent positioning and quality customer service will be essential to setting yourself apart from the competition and succeeding in your online sales business.

How to set the right selling price?

One of the most delicate steps in selling online is setting the price of your products. This must be attractive enough to entice buyers yet high enough to cover your costs and generate a profit. Here are a few points to consider to find that happy medium between competitiveness and profit.

  • Cost analysis: The first important point is to understand your costs. Take into account all the costs associated with creating, storing, and selling your product. Don’t overlook hidden costs such as shipping (especially if you offer free shipping), returns, and fees for services you use.
  • Market research: An analysis of prices charged by similar companies will give you an idea of what customers are willing to pay. This will help you position your product competitively in the market.
  • Choosing a pricing strategy: There are various pricing strategies you can adopt. For example, you could opt for a skimming strategy, setting a high price to maximize margins, or a penetration strategy, setting a low price to attract a large volume of customers. Your choice will depend on your short- and long-term objectives. Also bear in mind that a high price is often perceived as a guarantee of quality, even luxury.
  • Flexibility and adjustment: The market is dynamic, and so must your prices. Regularly monitor your sales, customer feedback, and competitive movements to adjust your prices accordingly. Analysis tools can help you identify trends and make informed decisions.
  • A/B testing: A/B testing involves comparing two versions of a product page or advertisement to determine which performs better in terms of predefined objectives, such as conversion rate. Users are divided into two groups: One sees version A, the other version B, and their interactions are analyzed to identify the most effective version. Don’t hesitate to carry out similar tests for different pricing strategies. This will enable you to measure the impact of different pricing structures on sales and margins, and find the most profitable option for your company.

Digital marketing: boost your sales with the right strategies

To give your sales a solid boost, you can set up advertising campaigns on platforms such as Facebook Ads or Google Ads. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and the return on investment can sometimes be spectacular.

I won’t go into too much detail here as I’ve already written a full article on the subject. I strongly suggest you read it to optimize your chances of success. You’ll find a wealth of valuable information that will be useful not only for your advertising campaigns but also in other phases of setting up your online store or marketplace account.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is another interesting marketing strategy that allows you to promote your products or services through partners, known as affiliates. In simple terms, this means giving a commission to people or companies who bring you sales or traffic. These affiliates use a variety of channels to promote your offer, from blogs and websites to social networks and even newsletters. It’s a particularly effective way of extending your reach without having to invest heavily in advertising campaigns.

However, there are a few points to consider if you want to succeed in affiliate marketing. First of all, it’s crucial to choose the right partners whose audience matches your target market to ensure that your products meet with genuine interest. What’s more, transparency is key in any affiliate relationship, so make sure the terms of the agreement are clear to all concerned, including commission rates and payment terms.

Another aspect to consider is performance tracking. Using specific tools and platforms to track clicks, conversions and commissions will enable you to adjust your strategy accordingly. This may include changing affiliates, adjusting commissions, or modifying promotional materials.

If you’re interested in setting up an affiliate program, you should know that most website building platforms or CMS offer plugins/apps specifically for this purpose. Note also that I’ve written an article aimed at affiliates, but you might find some information of interest there too.

How to manage customer reviews?

In the ultra-competitive world of online commerce, customer reviews can make or break a business. Not only do they influence the purchasing decisions of other consumers (known as “social proof”), but they also provide valuable information for the continuous improvement of your products or services. That’s why it’s essential not only to encourage these reviews but also to manage them proactively. Here are a few pointers to follow.

First of all, never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you. Whether the review is positive or negative, thanking the customer for their feedback shows a form of professionalism and customer care that can often soften criticism and reinforce positive feedback. For less favorable reviews, active listening is essential. Responding to criticism constructively, without ever losing your cool, can turn a negative experience into an opportunity to build customer loyalty.

But analyzing feedback goes beyond simply reading comments as you can use reviews to identify opportunities for growth or areas requiring special attention. Perhaps a specific product regularly receives reviews for its quality, or maybe customers often compliment the speed of your customer service. This information is a direct indicator of what you’re doing right and what needs to be adjusted.

Finally, don’t hesitate to highlight positive feedback in your marketing communications. Positive reviews can serve as testimonials and build trust with potential customers. What’s more, they can even be integrated into product development, customer service, and employee training to create a better overall customer experience.

In short, customer reviews aren’t just stars or comments left on a product page or on Trustpilot. They are powerful tools for continuous improvement and can be leveraged to increase both customer satisfaction and your company’s profitability. It’s an aspect of e-commerce that shouldn’t be overlooked.

An unhappy customer An unhappy customer will be more likely to leave a review about your online store, so it’s important to keep an eye on this and respond courteously as quickly as possible.

A few tips and tricks

To end this article on a high note, I’d like to offer you a list of 12 tips and tricks that should come in very handy when you start your online sales business.

  • Choose a reliable supplier: This first point is crucial! If you sell physical products, a good supplier is essential to guarantee the quality and availability of your stock. They also need to be responsive in the event of a dispute or return of goods.
  • Opt for creative photos: Captivating visuals can make the difference between a simple visit and a sale. Learn how to take good photos and invest in useful equipment (reflectors, softboxes, etc.) to increase your conversion rate.
  • IInclude demonstration videos: For a digital product and for a physical one, a video showing features, options, and all the relevant info can increase, sometimes considerably, the conversion rate.
  • Set up a newsletter: Newsletters are an excellent way of keeping in touch with your customers and prospects. You can use services such as GetResponse, Brevo or Mailchimp. Then personalize your email communications according to user engagement or past purchases to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing.
  • Use psychological pricing: Prices such as €19.99 instead of €20 may seem absurd, but they have a real power of attraction for the consumer and therefore increase sales.
  • Add a live chat option: Reactive customer support can resolve objections at the critical moment when the visitor is about to make a purchase. What’s more, it can enable an unhappy customer to find a quick solution to their problem and avoid an unfavorable review. The easiest way to implement this function is to look for a plugin or app to connect via WhatsApp or Messenger.
  • Offer a money-back guarantee: People are naturally suspicious, especially on the web and when dealing with an unfamiliar store. Offering a money-back guarantee can reduce the perception of risk and encourage purchases. And don’t forget to display tickers indicating that payments are highly secure!
  • Create a loyalty program: Reward your loyal customers with discounts or exclusive offers to encourage repeat purchases. You can set this up at the end of the sales tunnel and also in your email campaigns.
  • Offer free shipping: If it’s feasible for your business model, free shipping is often a determining factor in the purchase decision. Some merchants don’t hesitate to include it in the sale price, but it’s up to you.
  • Use customer reviews: I’ve mentioned this before, but displaying positive reviews and testimonials left by your customers builds trust and encourages new sales.
  • Use upsells and cross-sells: Offer complementary products or upgrades in the shopping cart or on the order confirmation page. If, for example, it’s a complementary or useful accessory to the product purchased, chances are the customer will buy it too.
  • Analyze the data: Use analytics tools to track user behavior on your site and adjust your strategy accordingly. For this you can use Google Analytics, which is free and very comprehensive.

And as a bonus, here are a few mistakes you should also avoid making:

  • Ignoring the importance of SEO: Neglecting search engine optimization can make you invisible on Google, drastically reducing your reach. Learning to master SEO will be extremely useful in your business.
  • Poor product descriptions: Imprecise or vague product descriptions can be confusing and discourage purchases. The same goes for titles and texts full of spelling mistakes. Don’t hesitate to find a professional (copywriter or proofreader) on UpWork or Fiverr who, for a few dozen euros, will write perfect product descriptions or correct your own.
  • Neglect customer service: Inefficient or unavailable customer service can turn away potential customers and damage your reputation. Simply put, respond quickly and accurately to all customer queries if you don’t want to be seen as unreliable.
  • Omit hidden costs: Unadvertised delivery charges or additional costs can frustrate customers and cause them to abandon their shopping baskets. Clearly state the total amount your customers will have to pay.
  • Ignore customer feedback: Ignoring reviews and feedback can deprive you of valuable information to improve your service. Although it’s never pleasant, listening to customer complaints will help you improve the quality of your services.
  • Failing to test your website: Failing to check regularly that your site is working properly can lead to bugs or long loading times that discourage visitors. Go and test your site’s pages regularly on PageSpeed or Pingdom, and here again, don’t hesitate to find a freelancer on Fiverr or UpWork to help you solve technical problems.
  • Lack of variety in payment methods: Offering just one payment method can penalize your customers, or prevent them from proceeding to payment, especially if you’re targeting an international market. At the very least, offer payment by credit/debit card and PayPal.

Conclusion

Selling products online is a truly exciting opportunity for those looking to earn money or even create a business in their own. In this article, we’ve looked at a variety of different topics, from the pros and cons of selling physical or digital products, the best platforms for building your online store, to strategic advice for maximizing your chances of success. We also identified a few mistakes to avoid as one false move can sometimes be costly in this field.

But remember, it’s not all that simple. Competition in online sales is intense, which means that every detail counts. From customer service to the way you present your products, excellence is the key to standing out from the crowd. However, if you’re truly passionate about what you do, and willing to invest time and effort, you’ll multiply your chances of success.

So, what do you think? Do you have any additional tips for success in online business? Any mistakes you’ve made that you’ve learned from? Your feedback is not only welcome but also extremely useful for anyone looking to get started or improve in online sales. So, don’t hesitate to share your opinion.

EcoTips

Environmental and climate change issues are more than ever at the heart of the concerns of this 21st century, which is why I am proposing a few ideas that will enable you to limit the negative impact that the implementation of this idea could have.

These solutions that I suggest are sometimes largely insufficient to compensate for these negative impacts, such as carbon offsetting. Unfortunately, there is not always an ideal and 100% efficient solution, far from it. And if you have others, please do not hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Selling physical products can have a significant environmental impact due to the production, storage, and transportation of goods. These steps can lead to significant use of resources, CO2 emissions, and waste production. In the case of digital products, the impact is generally less, but there is still a carbon footprint associated with the energy used to power the servers hosting the websites.

Several measures can be taken to limit these impacts. For physical products, opt for sustainable materials and eco-responsible production methods, reduce packaging or use recycled materials, and encourage recycling of end-of-life products. For digital products, you can opt for eco-responsible web hosting providers such as Greengeeks, or offset the carbon footprint generated by your activity by supporting organizations such as carbonfund.org, purprojet.com or goodplanet.org, which support various projects to reduce GHG emissions, such as reforestation, renewable energy production, or methane capture.

Finally, if you need to buy a computer, you can opt for an entry-level and even second-hand portable model. This will cost you less and be more eco-friendly.

So, there you have it, and don’t forget that making more sustainable choices for your online store not only reduces its environmental impact but can also be an attractive selling point for an increasingly ecologically aware clientele. Don’t hesitate to emphasize this.

Pros

  • You can work from home.
  • High earning potential.
  • No rent, fewer staff, and often lower overheads than a physical store.
  • ou can reach an international clientele without the costs associated with a physical presence.
  • Your store is open at all times, maximizing sales.

Cons

  • Some markets are saturated, requiring significant investment in marketing.
  • Need to manage inventory and suppliers effectively, especially for physical products.
  • As much chance of success as failure (especially if you do things the wrong way).
Disclaimer, please read this

Legal and administrative aspects of the ideas you'll find on Sweekr are rarely discussed because they vary greatly depending on the country you live in. I would advise you to check with your local adminitration before starting any business. Keep in mind that if you make money, the state will ask for "its share" in order to guarantee the proper functioning of schools, hospitals and other public services. Therefore, you will probably have to acquire a micro-entrepreneur status, or any other similar.

Please also note that there are currently NO affiliate links on Sweekr! This means that NO commission is charged when you make a purchase from any of the sites recommended here. Some links are optimized for performance testing only, and each recommendation reflects the opinions or evaluations of the writer of this article. And be sure you'll be notified if (and when) this situation ever changes.

This article could be completed or improved with your help. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any question, a relevant remark, a feedback, additional information or spotted any error.Go to comments

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2 comments

  1. Excellent post! But I’ve been thinking for weeks about what to sell and I can’t figure it out 😭 There’s so much competition these days… What to do?

    Reply
    • Thanks Zach! I understand that you’re hesitant to decide what to sell online, especially with today’s admittedly quite high competition. My advice would be to start by identifying a niche you like or better yet, a specific unmet need in the market. A keyword search on Google Trends can help. Also think about what you can offer that’s different or better than your competitors. Take the time you need to do this, and don’t hesitate to experiment with different products until you find what works for you.

      Reply

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