For most small businesses, the number one issue is always “How do I make more sales?” With so many customers now turning to online shopping, that’s tougher than it used to be. If you aren’t selling digitally in your small business, what can you do to start—easily and cheaply—making online sales?
I want to share two of the 99 practical, do-it-now, tips included in my newest book, The Sh*t’s Hit the Fan: Now What?! 99 Recession-Proof Tips for Small Business Success, coming out next week (October 27). These tips can help you start selling online quickly even if you’ve never made digital sales before.
Enable ecommerce on your website
When the world shut down due to Covid, customers turned increasingly to shopping online. That behavior is not going to change soon. Customers like the convenience and safety of buying things directly from the web.
But many small businesses don’t offer customers the chance to buy from their website—they don’t have ecommerce capabilities. They may have felt it was too difficult or expensive to set up shop on their website, or they felt they didn’t have a product or service that lent itself to being purchased online.
Well, now’s the time to rethink that point-of-view. There are a number of platforms making it incredibly easy—and not expensive—for small businesses to add shopping capabilities to their online presence. And by offering gift cards (a service which can be set up with many of these platforms) virtually any b2c (business-to-consumer) product or service can make online sales.
Depending on your needs, you can create a very complicated online store or a very simple one. But if you’re not offering customers a chance to buy from your website now, it’s time to rethink that!
Here are some of the leading ecommerce platforms particularly aimed at helping small businesses sell online:
- Shopify. Shopify was designed specifically for small business owners who need to set up an ecommerce site, without needing any experience creating websites or wanting to get going quickly. This subscription service helps you manage sales, sales taxes, shipping, inventory, and more. After you create a Shopify account, you can literally start selling in minutes.
- SquareSpace. This website builder application enables you to create an entire website, including, if you wish, to make sales from your site. They have a number of ecommerce templates to help you quickly customize your website for your type of products or services.
- Wix. Wix is a more limited, but also less expensive, option for creating a very simple ecommerce store.
- WooCommerce for WordPress. When it comes to creating an ecommerce presence, WordPress may be more complicated than some of the other options, but you can build a more robust online presence that may meet your specific needs. With a WordPress site, to make sales, you can use simple PayPal buttons or you can install a robust plugin such as WooCommerce, but you’ll probably need help. Fortunately, you’ll find lots of experienced WordPress and WooCommerce (a WordPress ecommerce plugin) consultants who can help.
Sell on Social Media
Social media platforms have become more than just a place to post announcements of what’s going on in your business. You can also use these powerful social networks to actually sell your products or services.
Of course, you can use virtually all the major social media sites to advertise your products or services, to find leads, and to get the word out about your business. Most of these will also allow you to link to your website.
But only a few social media sites allow you to actually sell from their site or to immediately link to a sales opportunity on your site. The two most important are Facebook and Instagram.
To sell on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll first need to have a business—not just a personal—presence, and you may need to get approval to use some of their more advanced selling tools.
The ways to sell on these sites keep evolving, but at the most simple, you can add “buy buttons.” When someone sees a product they want, they can click the “shop” button which takes them to your website where they’ll complete the purchase. This saves prospects from hunting all over your website for an item that catches their eye.
If you have products that lend themselves to being sold directly from social media feeds, be sure to search out how you can sell right from these sites. And, once again, don’t forget: you can sell gift cards! This would enable you to sell your services or restaurant meals from social media as well.
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2020
This article originally ran in USA Today on October 21, 2020