Ecommerce has really taken off over the last decade. Now, with social distancing and working from home as the norm, online shopping has seen a huge increase in traffic, leading many people to start their own online businesses. But where should you start? Well, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what you’ll be selling. There are three common types of products/services to consider. We’ll walk you through each and help you decide which one is right for you.
Selling Physical Goods Online
Physical goods are tangible items purchased by consumers and shipped to them from either the seller or a supplier. Those who wish to sell physical goods online have a few additional business aspects to consider, including finding suppliers and working with shipping companies. An increase in the popularity of online shopping has led to vast improvements in the sale and movement of physical goods from seller to customer. Ordering physical products online has become easier, while shipping has become faster and more efficient than ever before.
A few common examples of physical goods sold through ecommerce include books, furniture, tech gadgets, and household appliances.
The sale of physical goods is recommended for sellers who:
- Want to sell something tangible: If you know that you want to sell something your customers can touch and hold, physical goods are the clear choice for your online business.
- Want tons of options: When selling physical products, there’s no limit to the number or types of products you can potentially sell. Sellers of physical goods can always find new suppliers or new products to list online.
- Want an easy way to get started with ecommerce: Because selling physical goods is often considered the typical route for online retailers, it’s now easier than ever to get your store up and running and completing sales quickly when it comes to selling physical goods.
Selling Digital Products Online
Another popular type of ecommerce business is the sale of digital products. Unlike physical goods, digital products are not tangible items and do not require shipping. Instead, products are either emailed to the customer or downloaded directly from the seller’s site.
Some of the most popular digital products include eBooks, music, images, software, and web graphics.
Selling digital products is recommended for sellers who:
- Don’t want to keep their customers waiting: Digital products are commonly made available as soon as they’re purchased. Customers who buy digital goods don’t have to wait for a delivery, giving them a sense of instant satisfaction.
- Don’t want to deal with shipping: When it comes to ecommerce, determining logistics can be a drawback for some sellers. If finding suppliers and figuring out shipping doesn’t sound like something you want to do, selling digital goods is a great choice.
- Want flexibility: Being able to run your business completely online gives you additional flexibility, as you don’t have to figure out shipping options and delivery.
- Are tech-savvy: If you consider yourself a tech expert, selling digital products may be a good option for you.
Selling Services Online
Lastly, let’s talk about services. Services involve an individual working for or otherwise helping another person with a task. With ecommerce, the service is typically performed over the internet as opposed to in-person and is sometimes known as an e-service. The most common e-services include:
- Web-enabling services: Created for the convenience of the customer, web-enabling services are those that, traditionally, were fulfilled by humans in an office and typically include banking or educational services.
- Matchmaking services: Common examples of matchmaking services include employment sites, travel sites, real estate sites, or even loan-finding sites.
- Information-selling: These types of e-services commonly provide consultation to their customers, related to finances, businesses, marketing, etc.
- Online software: There’s an unlimited number of paths you can take offering software to online buyers. From sales and marketing programs to ecommerce platforms, you’ll find customers looking to automate their business operations.
The sale of services through ecommerce is typically recommended to those who:
- Have previous knowledge of a service: When you’re providing a service, it’s critical that you have extensive knowledge about it. Tapping a prior area of expertise is often a good idea. For example, if you’ve previously worked in the marketing department of an organization, you’re probably well-suited to provide digital marketing services to online customers. Having extensive knowledge of the service you wish to provide to customers before starting your business is a great indication that service providing is the right choice for you.
- Don’t want to deal with logistics: Again, if the thought of dealing with shipping and suppliers gives you pause, providing a non-tangible service can allow you to pursue your ecommerce business with less stress.
What Type of Ecommerce Selling is Right for You?
You may already have an idea as to what products or services you want to sell online. If you don’t, there is no reason to let uncertainty stop you from starting your own online business. Here are some tips to consider: Think about your passions: You want to start a business that’s fulfilling, so make sure it involves something that’ll make you happy.
- Consider any prior experience: Past experiences can always be helpful when entering into a new business sector.
- Figure out the problem you want to solve: The goal of your business should be to help your customers solve a problem or fill a need.
- Think about your audience: Consider your audience when deciding what to sell, as their opinion matters most. It’s far easier to catch the attention of a specific audience than trying to appeal to the masses.
- Follow ecommerce trends: Looking at other ecommerce retailers will give you a better idea of what’s working well and what isn’t in the ecommerce industry. Just be sure to consider how saturated the market is with products you’re interested in selling. Choose something that buyers are interested in, but always consider how much competition there is.
Ideas to Consider
- Find Your Niche/Micro-niche: Finding a niche is a great way to reduce competition and form close relationships with your customers. For example, clothing sales are a broad niche. In comparison, selling specifically women’s clothing would be considered a niche. Micro-niches take this concept even further. In our example, selling only women’s maternity clothes is considered a micro-niche.
- Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a great way to eliminate the necessity of a warehouse when selling physical goods to customers. When an order is completed, the order is then passed along to a manufacturer or wholesaler, who sends the product directly to the customer.
Choose Your Product
Starting your own online store can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Preparation and forethought is essential to the success of your business, so knowing what you want to sell is important. Hopefully, these tips and recommendations can help you find what products or services will make you and your customers happy.