Since publishing my first e-Commerce post and also sharing the case study of how I made close to a million in sales within 3months, it’s surprisingly become a major highlight of naijapreneur.
I have been contacted by several naijapreneur readers from all corners of the world seeking for necessary guidance on how to go about starting their own e-Commerce business.
I have been contacted by two major media houses in Nigeria, a radio and Newspaper for an exclusive interview.
I have been contacted by a MBA student from the University of Leeds who needed more insights about the e-Commerce trend in Nigeria. And finally, the number of search engine traffic to naijapreneur related to e-Commerce has also increased.
These are just a few of the feedbacks I have gotten, so in this unusual article, I will be answering some frequently asked questions about e-Commerce that can help you get started on the right path.
8 FAQs About Selling Online
The following questions were asked during an interview with a major Newspaper in Nigeria and I have decided to make this available to you. In case there are more questions you need me to answer, I strongly suggest you use the comment section at the end of the post to ask such question or questions and I promise to answer them in a follow-up post.
(1) Who can sell online?
To really answer this question, I think the first question should be; “what can be sold online?” or “what can one sell online?” Either of these questions will help to answer the “who can sell online?” question.
You can sell either a service or a product online.
So if you provide any form of services to either consumers or companies, you are potentially qualified to sell online. And if you are a retailer or trader who buys and sells physical goods, you are also potentially qualified to sell online.
In other words, anyone who’s got anything of value [product/service] to offer can potentially sell online. The keyword here being ‘potentially’ because selling online is much more than having products/services to sell, it requires some basic skills which can only be acquired through training.
Using my business as a case study, I sell both products and services online. I sell my business development and internet marketing consulting services online and I also sell products such as; smart phones, tablets and shoes online through the fastest growing e-Commerce platform in Nigeria, Kaymu. I can do all these because I understand the dynamics of both models and have acquired the relevant skills through training.
(2) What is the start-up cost for selling online?
The startup cost of selling online is quite small compared to selling offline. There are two approaches or models to selling online;
- Creating your own e-Commerce site, or
- Selling through other e-Commerce platforms, for example Kaymu
Your initial startup cost will be greatly influenced by the model you choose and the nature of what you sell online; product or service.
For example, if you choose to sell online through your own e-Commerce platform, the basic startup costs are;
- Website design
- Internet access
- Cost of providing service/product
And if you choose to sell online through other e-Commerce platforms, the basic startup costs are;
- Internet access
- Cost of providing service/product
(3) What are the necessary things needed to sell online?
I think the answers provided above to question 2 and 3 should clearly suffice. However, let me summarize the necessary things needed to sell online;
- Value proposition – this can be a product/service or a combination of both
- e-Commerce platform – this can be your own website or selling through other websites
- Internet access – you can acquire your own internet modem or use a cybercafé
- e-Marketing skills – you can acquire them through training or simply hire an online marketing consultant to do the job
(4) Where can one get it and how much does it cost?
Not to sound biased in anyway, my company provides two out of the four requirements mentioned above through our integrated internet marketing solution for smart businesses called Differentiate Online.
We can help you meet these two necessary things needed to sell online;
- Develop your own e-Commerce platform or advice you on the most suitable alternatives to use
- Provide relevant e-Marketing training or strategic online marketing consulting services
There are no fixed costs for either of these services, because like I have clearly mentioned above, the dynamics of selling online varies depending on the nature of business and the e-commerce model you settle for. The cost can only be estimated after a thorough evaluation of your unique business. So kindly contact us for a free consultation.
(5) How can one learn how to sell online?
To learn how to sell online, there are basically two approaches;
- Trial and error – this involves teaching yourself without the guidance of an expert, coach or mentor. Using this approach takes a lot of time, effort and wasted money.
- Training – this involves acquiring relevant online marketing skills through the teaching of an expert, coach or mentor. Using this approach saves you time, effort and money.
(6) What is the process of selling online?
The process of selling online, again depends on the model and nature of business you are involved in. There’s really no hard and fast rule or one-size-fits-all process to selling online. You have to evaluate the uniqueness of your own business and the peculiarities of your own situation through the guidance of an expert, coach or mentor. Only then, can the most suitable process be developed for you.
Do not be deceived, selling online is all about online marketing and there can be no form of marketing without a defined strategy. The process of selling online can only be defined from your online marketing strategy!
(7) What percentage of profit can I make on one sale online?
As you must have realized from my previous answers above, there are many factors to consider when it comes to selling online and because of these factors, most of which are peculiar to different businesses, the percentage of profit on one sale online is not fixed. It varies.
But having said that, here’s the very interesting part; the percentage of profit you can make from one sale online can be significantly higher than what you would make from the same sale offline. Why? Because online, the cost of providing the product/service is significantly lower than the cost of providing it offline.
So the percentage of profit you can make from one sale online, ultimately lies in your hand!
(8) How do I build my reputation in selling online and how do I market my goods?
Again, this question is dependent on those factors I have already mentioned above. The way you would market a product is not the same way you would market a service. There are certain dynamics that must be considered while developing your online marketing strategy.
Regarding brand reputation building, the most critical factor that will determine how successful your online reputation will be is credibility. Without it, there is no way you will make any sale online. Before anyone will buy from you online, they need to know, like and trust you.
On the internet, sales are not made in an instant; sales are made by following-up on leads and getting them to know, like and trust your brand. This is why you need an effective follow-up system using content marketing.
Content Marketing means creating and sharing VALUABLE free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.
Content marketing is how you build your brand reputation online. It’s the engine that drives your entire online marketing strategy!
Over to you
I was asked these 8 questions by an interviewer, so if there are any other questions you need answers to, kindly use the comment section below to ask me any question at all relating to e-Commerce.
See you in the comments!