The last few years (the so-called pandemic or COVID times) have brought everyone closer to the internet; right from shopping for one’s household items to getting schooled online. To an extent, even coming up with creative ideas on how to sell online – whether for products or services – can help generate some revenue.
Selling online has gained its place in the day-to-day life of even the busiest sellers and manufacturers. The ease at which one can reach millions of customers globally via a single click, saving on setup and operational costs, the ability to showcase various products under a single roof and operating 24X7 throughout the year are just a few reasons why many are choosing to sell online and internationally.
In this article, we have tried to cover simple points that will help answer the question “how to sell my product online?”:
- Understanding the online marketplace
- How to sell products online in India
- How to sell internationally from India
- Logistics and shipping
- Marketing your products online
I. Understanding the Online Marketplace
A single platform that brings together buyers and sellers across borders is an “online marketplace”. A one roof e-commerce solution that offers an online space to sell, buy, transact and much more.
When you are looking at the e-commerce business, it is very important that you choose the right platform for your business. Some questions that you need to ask are:
- What exactly is my business type?
- What is the goal I want to achieve by going online?
- What is my scope of business and its structure?
- What kind of markets do I want to reach?
- What kind of technical support would I need?
- Do I have all the required technology?
- What would be the spend to get started?
- Am I ready with the necessary facilitation such as inventory, shipment, packing, query handling, support?
It is also important that you conduct thorough research on the various e-commerce platforms and their functionality.
II. How to sell products online in India
Various factors such as increased usage of digital mechanisms e.g. smartphones, improved internet connectivity, increase in income of the middle class, increased spending behaviors etc. can be credited for the growth of e-commerce in India.
It is projected that the B2C ecommerce in India is anticipated to grow by 10.75% on annual basis to reach US$107.3 billion in 2023.
There are various rules and regulations that have been implemented by the Indian Government within the e-commerce sector such as Foreign Direct Investment Policy, Payment and Settlement Act, 2007 and other RBI regulations on payment mechanisms, Legal Metrology Act, 2009 read with Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodity) Rules, 2011 and regulations on goods and service taxes, income tax, and export/import.
Achieving success when selling online may sound difficult but it isn’t when the right aspects are considered for a successful online business, such as:
- How is your business/product offering unique value to your buyers
- Choosing an e-commerce site that offers a seamless buying and selling experience
- Studying the online payment options offered to receive and send payments
- Ease of access to users on a given e-commerce website
- Looking for logistic and order management processes that are trustworthy and pocket-friendly
- Tools that offer effective and timely customer service
Do note that the list just doesn’t end here but it does get the ball rolling.
III. How to sell internationally from India
“International e-commerce” or most popularly known as “Cross Border Trade (CBT)” has now become the need of the hour – especially when you want to target the buyer market across international borders. CBT business brings buyers and sellers around the world much closer thereby eliminating the borders on the globe.
Similar to the factors that one considers while deciding to selling online, there are few more that one should keep in mind when selling internationally from India:
- In-depth market research to find the correct market for your product
- Understanding regulatory compliance for international selling such as taxes, customs, import-export regulations, etc.
- Marketing and branding basis the culture of a specific market
- Partnering with the right logistic service providers offering shipping services internationally
- Deciding on the overall cost, warehousing, inventory, payment gateway, adjusting to various time zones as per your buyers
- Providing the best customer support to ensure repeat purchases and a good buying experience
IV. Logistics and Shipping
When it comes to selling online– be it domestic or international – shipping and logistics play a vital role in your overall business performance. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose shipping services that are reputed, reliable and efficient. Importantly, you should also consider insurance for shipping.
Choose the right logistic service provider – in terms of shipping cost, , shipping timelines, tracking availability (with end-to-end tracking service), delivery commitment and customer feedback along with protection for any kind of mishap during transit. FedEx, DHL, UPS, local postal services, etc. are just a few of the known carrier services when selling internationally online.
Shipping services can vary from Economy to Standard to Expedited. Keep in mind that the cost for these services can vary based on the logistic service provider and the buyer’s shipping location.
V. Marketing Your Products Online
Another important factor is how to market online products.” What kind of marketing tools are useful and is there a cost involved? If you want your product to be sold then it’s necessary that it gets visibility and is seen by buyers.
Here are few strategies that can help you get going:
1. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation
Make sure that your listings are optimized in a manner that they get captured in various search engines. Ensure that you are using the right keywords, using high quality photos and content, writing appropriate descriptions, making certain that your listing is mobile friendly etc.
Most of the online platforms offer services i.e. advertising services to boost your online product visibility. These services are mostly paid promotions – but depend on which model they work upon such as PPC (Pay Per Click). Do check these on the platform chosen by you.
3. Social Media
Marketing what you sell on your social media handles is also a good way to attract potential buyers to your listings. You can choose from a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and more.
4. Get an online store
An online store is a virtual website that stands in as your brand. An online e-commerce marketplace like eBay offers you the ability to subscribe to an eBay store with multiple benefits. Know more about eBay stores.
5. Email Marketing
This is a way to market your products to your existing buyer list. It’s a useful method to keep your buyers updated on new arrivals, discounts, etc.
Remember your imagination should not just be limited to the above-mentioned strategies – try to explore as much as possible so that you can choose the best way to market what you sell.
So, what have we covered today:
- What is an online marketplace?
- How do you go about choosing the right marketplace for your business?
- What are the factors that impact your decision when making a choice?
With every passing year and the predicted growth of e-commerce in India, it’s time that each one takes that one step towards going global with their business. We understand that selling (especially selling online) may sound simple but it does involve dedication and passion. One has to look into various aspects of shipping, logistics and marketing to keep evolving with time.
To conclude, e-commerce is “THE” way to scale up your business. With multiple advantages of international reach, cost-effectiveness, marketing outreach, etc. this is the right time to start selling online. And not just online – start selling internationally.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to sell my product online?
Here’s what you need:
Choose an online platform that fulfills three factors:
- Domestic as well as international marketplace for listing your items
- Payment gateway for receiving and sending payments in a hassle-free manner
- Shipping facilitation with competitive and profitable costs
Ensure that you have the right products as per the market demands along with the needed requirements to manage operations smoothly such as systems, staffing, warehousing, customer support, etc.
Determine what costs are involved in selling online such as the price of the product, shipping and its expenses etc. Make sure you take into account the factors that influence these i.e. production cost, market trends, competition, shipping and buyer locations, etc.
Choose the right marketing techniques and strategies to promote your products such as setting up discounts, offers, etc. to attract buyers. This in turn builds up your repeat buyers. Making use of the right optimization tools to market your products online e.g. search engine optimization, social media, email marketing, etc.
2. What are the strategies to sell products internationally?
One important point to keep in mind when you decide to sell products online – be it domestic or internationally – is to always find new markets for your products. This can help you grow your existing customer base. Here are some strategies that can help you sell products internationally:
- Complete market research: Identifying countries and regions that already have demand for the product you sell is the first important step in trying to find out how to sell your product online. While doing this, you need to take into consideration factors such as culture, preferences, country/region-specific rules or regulations, existing competition etc.
- Country specific localization: Adapting your products, marketing techniques, listing type and item descriptions to the relevant market and its culture is another important factor. It is suggested that you use the necessary translating tools to ensure that you stay up-to-date and accurate with the information you provide.
- Choice of international shipping partners and services: You are required to do thorough research on the type of shipping services offered by the various logistic partners, keeping in mind their cost effectiveness. Customs duties, import/export rules and regulations specific to countries and required documentation are some of the few things you would need to work upon too. Make sure that your shipping operations are streamlined to ensure a smooth order fulfillment.
- Staying compliant with legal and regulatory policies: Become familiar with the rules and regulations applicable to shipping. Certain items may be restricted or may require additional documentation, etc. for importing/exporting. Make sure that not just your listings but the shipments also comply with the necessary standards with regards to labeling, safety, quality, etc. of the market you choose to sell in.
3. What do I need to know to sell my products online globally?
Selling products online globally require understanding of the following points:
- Knowledge of the international market
- Familiarity with legal and regulatory compliance requirements of the countries/regions you sell in
- Adaptation to the various factors such as culture, localization on the market trends, currencies, etc.
- Strong shipping strategy with reliable logistics partners that offer end-to-end tracking of international shipment with competitive rates
- Factors such as customs, shipment, insurance, shipping and delivery times vary from country to country
- Dedicated customer support to handle customer issues and provide resolutions in a timely manner
- Understand the tax implications and customs requirements for each target country
- Develop a clear and effective marketing strategy that is tailored to your customer requirements
4. What are some common challenges when selling products internationally and how can I overcome them?
Finding an answer to “how to sell products internationally” can become easy if you ensure that the right strategy is in place. However, this doesn’t mean that there will be no challenges. Anticipating challenges can certainly help to overcome most of them.
Regional or country specific traditions/customs including foreign languages and different time zones can be a challenge. This is specially in the case of communicating with international buyers and service providers. There are several online tools that can help with the language barrier. However, it is always best to invest in a professional service provider who is an expert in translating your product information, content, customer queries, etc.
Every country/region has its specific rules and regulations with regard to export, import, taxation, and customs. Staying updated and knowledgeable on things such as compliance requirements, legal documentation and the necessary framework, certifications, consumer protection, labeling, shipping, etc. will help to avoid legal issues.
International shipment at times can be challenging. It may include customs clearance, documentation, difference in shipping options provided by logistic service providers, the shipping cost etc. Therefore, it is always advisable to research which logistic partners are reliable and provide services in the most hassle free manner – to you as well to your buyers.
Currency exchange rates can turn out to be one of the factors that can have an impact on your pricing and profit margins. So, make sure that you make it a habit to monitor currency fluctuations and adjust your pricing on a regular basis so that you stay competitive for changes in exchange rates.