9 Questions to Ask When Considering a Product for Online Sale

product-online-saleYou can have the greatest looking shop with the best concept – all of which would mean nothing without the right product. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself about the product or product range you are thinking of selling online. By the time you are through you will know if you have a winner, a loser or simply a product that requires some extra work.

1. Would I buy my product?

Your product should be something you believe in. It does not have be something you would use but you need to know that it will provide worth and add value to your buyers. If this is your focus throughout setting up and managing your shop, you are going to be successful. As selling online is becoming increasingly popular and the shopfronts more and more advanced – you will need to offer a product that is of a high standard to avoid problems. Product quality is extremely important when your reputation is on the line and you are attempting to establish a lasting online presence.

2. Is it legal to sell my product online and do I need to acquire rights?

There are many ownership and copyright laws that apply to products and brands so first things first – you need to be sure that you will not be implicated by your selling your product online. You can check this by contacting your manufacturer or supplier. There are also extensive rules, fees and licensing applying to medical products, ammunition and alcohol. Make sure your product is legal and get the rights to sell it!

3. Have I researched my competition both online and offline?

In order to set the right price and packages, you need to know what your competitors are selling. Consumers will research and make their choice either on price, credibility or special attraction. If your price is the cheapest you are bound to pick up on sales. If you cannot lower your price you will need to be aware that consumers can get your product somewhere else at a cheaper rate. This call for you as a consumer to offer credibility and/or a special attraction that will cause a consumer to buy despite the price being higher than elsewhere. Competition is healthy and there are ways other than volume and price that smaller online stores can compete with larger retailers. On the other hand, the more unique the product, the less chance of competition. If your product is saturated on the net and there is a limited need – you are not likely to succeed. Be aware that should your product be in this situation, you will need to plan your budget taking this into account or be creative in your sales strategy.

4. Do I have easy access to stock at any time?

With an online shop, good service is perhaps more important than in a real store due to the customers expectation of a flawless process. You will need to have access to stock at all times so as not to disappoint customers and receive bad reviews. One month you might sell 1 product, the next you might sell 1000, even in one sale. This may apply to each product and variation thereof. This logistical issue must be considered in terms of your capacity to purchase / manufacture excess stock and how long it takes, the product shelf life and where you would store your stock. If you will opt to make use of dropshipping (third party does the shipping) – this arrangement and cost must be considered.

5. Will it be profitable to sell this product online?

Selling expensive items is generally more profitable, but can require more credibility to sell. When you look at the price of the product, don’t forget to calculate direct and indirect costs of selling your goods. Bear in mind that shipping costs must be included when calculating a price.  The best selling products won’t ever earn any real money if your margin is too small. Consider your targets to be sure that you will be smiling at your bank balance.

6. Are there any additional costs to selling my product online?

Selling certain products might mean incurring extra costs such as specialized packaging, royalties, license fees, certification and so on. Specialized packaging such as secure boxing or bubble-wrap would be additional costs. Consider also the possibility of swap-outs and returns. These shipping costs are often unforeseen but a common reality with certain products. Be sure that your venture will continue to be profitable if there are any additional costs.

7. Is my product logical to me to sell online?

It’s true that anything can be sold online but for some products, the process of an online sale is simply not profitable and/or causes to much extra work. Consider for instance the size and weight of your product and how much it may cost to ship. Consider the nature of your product and whether or not it is too fragile to ship or whether it has an expiry date. Certain products come in a variety of options such as colour and size. This must be carefully considered when selecting products. Merchants need to bear in mind that some products, such as designer works of art for instance, have a high visual impact and a consumer may wish to see the product live. Such products would be illogical for e-commerce and cannot be expected to yield high sales.

8. Would consumers trust buying my product online?

Why should the consumer buy from you and not the mall or another online store? When consumers spend money, they need to be sure that what they are buying is worth it. Consider the label or branding of your product and be aware that some work might need to be done to ensure that you build the trust of your consumers. You can also do this by providing info about yourself and the product. For storefronts whose products are more abstract – it is important that the sales process remains easy to use and clearly described so that consumers feel comfortable that what they see on the screen is what they will really get in real life.

9. Is the product marketable online?

Many online shops open in a sea of competitors without any planned marketing and let’s face it, it won’t matter what products you sell if your customers aren’t buying. Before considering what product to sell, you should determine what market you want to sell to. Once you know what kind of customer you want, then you’ll be able to determine their needs. If your products only appeal greatly to some people, it may not be enough to sustain a business. There is so much that can be done freely online to increase traffic through search engine optimization and affiliate marketing that many merchants miss out on. In doing this you will pass the test of marketability – to know if in fact your target audience can be reached online. Sometimes a merchant will need to shift focus so that the target audience can be accessed online through a planned marketing campaign. Your product selection doesn’t have to appeal to all of the population but it should be something you can convince a large percentage of shoppers they need.

Making sure you have the right to sell online is crucial when seeting up your online shop!

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