We asked for your top questions when it comes to preparing to sell online. Combining this with our own experience and the hundreds of clients we have met with and helped over the years, we have put together a list of the top questions we get asked by people starting off selling online. If we haven’t got your questions, just contact us :)
1. Should I take photos of my products myself or get a photographer?
Put simply, good, quality photos sell products! Customers need to be able to see what they are buying in order to make their decision, and the better your photo, the easier it is to convince them. Just ask yourself, "Have I ever been on a website and bought a product which had small, dark images?" Probably not! So now that you know quality photos are essential, how do you get them?
- Take them yourself. This is obviously the cheapest option but beware, it is rare that your own camera setup will produce perfect product photos. If budget is your main concern, then this may be your only option, however you should consider it your last resort. It will also take a lot of your time.
- Get them from your supplier. A lot of our clients don’t realise that most suppliers will give them product photos, if they are asked from them. After all, your sales are their sales! Usually a supplier will either send a CD of images or give access to the images online. This saves you a lot of time and gives you good quality images.
- Hire a professional photographer. If you have not got supplier images, then this is definitely the best option A professional product photographer (ask us for a referral if you don’t know one :) will be able to create a perfect product photo which will convince your customer to buy. Often, our clients get a photographer in for the day to shoot lots of products. This helps reduce cost and can be done each month / quarter / season, depending on your business.
2. What do I do after an order comes in?
Do you know that old story about the dog chasing the car, but not knowing what to do with it if he ever caught it? This question is the same! A lot of businesses spend a lot of time thinking about selling online and getting setup, but then they wonder: “Once we have an order, what happens next?” Not to worry, just follow these simple steps…
- Check your email regularly. Once an order comes in, you will get an email notification and the order will appear in your Shopify store admin. The order will contain the information about the customer, what products they ordered and the address to ship to.
- Pick and Package your products. Grab your products, package them up, (print out the order and include it if you like). Try and use branded packaging if you can, to promote your brand.
- Send Out the Order. There are many ways of doing this depending on your business and budget. The most common ways are to post the order yourself, use a courier who calls to your business when needed (hopefully every day :) or you may use a dropshipper, who will store and send your products for you.
- Let the Customer Know it’s Coming! Your Shopify admin has a neat little button beside the order. When you click it, your customer will get an email letting them know their order is on the way. It’s always a good idea to do this to keep them informed. You can also add the courier’s shipping tracking code to the email, so they can track their order
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3. How do I store my products?
A sometimes overlooked but very important question! How many products will you need to store? How big are they? What kind of space do you need? You need to think about this before you start and make sure you have a plan that suits your business. There are 2 main options:
- Do It Yourself. Generally business will store their products in a backroom, upstairs, warehouse etc. Also, if you haven’t got the space in the business, you might consider storing your products at home, obviously a home-based business would do this as well! By taking care of this yourself, you may be able to reduce cost. However you should also consider the cost of the space, and also make sure your insurance is in place to cover your stock, in the event of a fire.
- Use a 3rd Party. If you prefer not to store the products yourself, you may also consider renting storage space with a storage company or dropshipping company. Both types of business will allow you to ship products directly to them for storage. Another advantage with the dropshipping company is that they can also handle picking and packing your orders and delivery for you, saving you a massive amount of time! (If you don’t know these types of companies, you can ask us for a referral to them :)
4. How do I ship my products?
The quality, speed and cost of shipping your products is vital to your success as an online business. You need to ask yourself where you will be shipping to on a frequent basis (mainly Ireland / UK / Europe / World), how often will you need collection and how quickly you need the products to be delivered. There are many options out there for you and they generally fall into three categories:
- National Postal Service. In Ireland this is called An Post and many of our clients use them for shipping their products. They will provide a tracking code for you and if you are shipping items likely to be returned (e.g. clothing) they can also provide cheap return bags for return shipping.
- Courier. There are a huge number of couriers available. Different couriers will suit different business and the main things to watch out for are the rates to different countries and continents, the weight and size of the packages allowed, the frequency of pickup times and of course the insurance for your products in the event of an accident. Couriers will also provide a tracking code for you to send to your customer and some of the bigger couriers are already integrated with Shopify, allowing you to provide real-time shipping rates to your customers.
- Dropshipping. A fantastic option and one that is growing in Ireland. In a nutshell, for a fee, a dropshipping company will receive and store your products, get a copy of the order when it is made by your customer, pick and package your products and send them to the customer. This saves you an epic amount of time, and allows you to concentrate on getting more sales and customers. There are various different services and fees but if you are shipping frequently are short on time or staff or just don’t have a lot of storage space, a dropshipper is a great option.
5. How many products should I sell?
This is a big concern for most online businesses and a question we often get asked. You want to sell everything but with so many products, where do you start??! Our advice, especially when starting off is to take it gradually. Pick your 100 best-selling products and get them online. Then add a few more, then a few more and so on. Whatever you do, don’t sit down in front of your laptop and try to add 1000 products in one go! And remember, if you have your product information in a Microsoft Excel file, or if it can be exported from your stock system, then it can be imported automatically into Shopify. This will save you a lot of time! Keep the following in mind:
- The less products online, the less work your customer has to do in finding them and you have to do in managing them.
- Less products makes your website more focused and easier to use.
- Try not to pick products which are very cheap, e.g. less than the cost of shipping as they won’t sell unless they are part of a deal
- Try and pick easy to ship products, unless your entire range is big and bulky Remember, big and bulky means expensive shipping!
- When choosing what to sell, pick your most profitable products
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There is so much to think about before selling online and it is important to get it right. There is lots of information above to help you get started, if you have more questions or simply find this a little overwhelming and don’t know where to start, then we are happy to help - just get in touch today.
And feel free to comment below if you found something above useful to your business :)