Sadie Keljikian, Stern Corporate Services Group

The retail landscape is in the midst of what might be the biggest sea change it’s ever seen.

Despite the fact that most sales still take place in-store, experts say that online retail is quickly and aggressively becoming the primary means of purchasing consumer goods across the board. However, this doesn’t mean that selling goods online necessarily guarantees success. Quite the contrary, in fact; since the online market is so flooded with options and various techniques to grab consumers’ attention, setting one’s business apart is a unique challenge. Here are a few tips to build your brand and maximize your exposure to consumers who want your goods the most:

Get your own website.

The best way to set yourself up to make sales online is to create your own website. Even if you can’t sell your goods on the site directly, a devoted website gives consumers a glimpse into your products as well as your values as a company. Despite the multi-industry tech revolution, over 46% of small businesses in the US do not have a website. It all boils down to this simple fact: the easier you and your business are to find online, the better.

Use as many channels as possible.

Obviously, selling goods online is wise, especially since experts anticipate further increases in the percentage of consumer good purchases made online in the coming years. However, consider selling your goods in as many contexts as possible. As of now, in-store purchases still account for over 90% of retail sales in the US, so depending on your industry and approach, it may be prudent to sell in-store as well as online. If selling to retailers or opening your own store isn’t viable, consider hosting occasional pop-up events or a booth at a seasonal market. Identify your niche market and where they spend the most time/money and take advantage of those channels.

Find your audience and follow their trends.

Depending on your product(s) and sales method(s), you may benefit from focusing your sales on specific locations. Studies show that metropolitan areas are generally where the most online sales happen, so you may want to concentrate your digital advertising in big cities. It’s also important to consider any previous market research you may have garnered. If you’ve found that your products are particularly popular in a specific location or among a particular group, buy ad space where they’ll see it (i.e. a local periodical in a town or city where you’ve had success historically, or a website designed for parents/teenagers/lawyers/whoever your most prevalent demographic is).

Sell to a big-box store or site if you can.

As much as we’d all like to shop from independent vendors and small businesses as much as we can, we often turn to big-box retailers like Walmart and Amazon when we need basic, every-day products. It’s no secret that both businesses have established themselves as full-service retailers from which consumers can buy nearly everything they need. Unless you can’t sell to these industry leaders for cost or volume reasons, you should consider selling your goods at one or more national retailer, even if for no other reason than to get your products and brand out there. There’s nothing wrong with going where the customers are.

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