DO YOU SELL PRODUCTS ONLINE?

Selling products online is different than selling in a traditional "brick and mortar" type of building.

SUCCESS LEAVES A TRAIL...
This means, follow what successful companies are doing. If you miss the target on one or more of these guidelines below, you may not ever see online sales.

1. Bring viewers to your site.
In order to have sales, you need to PROMOTE your site. You need to have your web address on your business cards, your stationery, your newsletters and as much correspondence that you can. In addition, it is CRITICAL to have a good position with the search engines. This requires regular promotion to the major search engines web sites and directories, as well as putting proper keywords, metatags, and titles on the various pages of your site. Most search engines are dealing with over 100 million pages indexed, so therefore, it means your's has to be properly labelled, promoted and the timing on it must be consistent with the release with of the web site. There are over 20,000 new pages being promoted daily, so what's hot in your neighborhood, may not be popular in six months. This is why it is critical to continually monitor and track the hits, income, the sales, and the expenses to justify a strong promotional package for your products.

2. Offer options on how people can purchase your products.

Accepting CREDIT CARDS ONLINE is the best, because often you can catch someone with an impulse purchase. Having an toll-free 800 number is next best so people can speak with a live person in case they have questions about the products, the warranty, the shipping, or other things. Allowing them to print and mail their order in with a CHECK or FAX a form in, is another way to receive orders. If you offer none of these options, then it is harder to track orders from the web. If you do take online orders, be sure to make it hassle-free and appear as secure to your potential client as possible. Utilize only companies that have secure servers and a company like Verisign to verify credit cards and encrypt them. While there is always the potential for fraud, the risks are low.

3. Offer a special incentive for them to order from you.
If you have an online coupon, providing a discount on a product people may have been planning on buying anyways, that is always a good incentive to try buying from you. Other good incentives include "First time buyer's" specials, substantial discount on their first order from you. It is easier to keep a current customer than it is to acquire a new customer.

4. Build credibility about yourself, your company and your products.
If a company has a recognized name, they will always sell more than a smaller shop no one has heard of, because they don't know if you will be in business in 2 years, much less 2 months from now. If you are a small business, you want to give as much broad coverage credibility as possible. This means present yourself in print format as well as email, as well as have a physical address and a phone number that people can reach you. The longer that you have been doing whatever you are doing, the better, generally speaking. If you've got 20 years experience in a specialized area, then make sure that your potential clients know that. Allow them to get to know you. Post testimonials of satisfied clients or put reviews of your products form credible sources whenever possible.

5. Provide some type of warranty or guarantee.
Companies that say "you get a "free bonus" if you buy today, and even if you return the product, you can keep the free bonus, will sell more, because people feel they are getting more. In addition, they feel the company feels that strongly about their product, that they are willing to offer a guarantee and risk losing something else (the free bonus) if you don't like their product. This spreads the "risk" involved in the transaction back to the seller.

6. Offer as much of a solid return policy as you can.
People have been burned in the past and they understand how easy it is to get burned with online purchases. Often, when the product is not very expensive, people won't bother returning it, because it costs more in time and hassle to do that if they wanted to return the product. As a result, they know that and they know the sellers know that, so they must be cautious about their purchases when they can't touch and see the product in person.

7. Follow through on your orders.
If someone orders from you, be sure you deliver it as promised. Include a thank you note and also an offer for something else in the future to help establish them as an ongoing client. As mentioned before, if people are satisfied, it's much easier to keep a client for another purchase then go out and attract a new client. Include with your order, your return policy clearly and post it on the web as well.

8. Recognize that some people will never buy online.
Use the web as a tool to promote your products, explain the details and have frequently asked questions on each of the products. Include photos whenever possible, items sell at least four times better with a photo. Even though a person likes your product, they may still want to touch it in person before they buy it, unless they have a friend who validates the product for them. Allow them the opportunity to see the items in your store, or try the product for 10 days (if you have the inventory to allow that).

9. Competitive prices.
When people buy online, they are not only looking for a convenience of online buying, but they also want to think they are saving money at the same time. If your product can be purchased in a store for the same price or from a more well-known store online, people will more than likely go there to buy, even if you have a good description of your product. Every purchase has some risk, so limit the risk with a reward of a lower price to entice them in to buy. You may offer a few items at substantially lower prices and then offer other products at more competitive prices. Promote the lower prices and once people come in to buy those items, they may pick up the more reasonably priced items as well, while they are there.

10. Offer new products from time to time.
If you have only a few products and they are a commodity that sells well on the web, congratulations! If on the other hand you are like most people, you will want to have new items being offered periodically to allow your viewers to see new offers and products so they will come back to your site. Change the look of your site periodically and add new offers and upgrades and accessories to expand what you can offer your clients.

If you are doing all these things and you still don't have online sales, perhaps it's time to consider a different product!

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