In an increasingly digital-age the internet offers you and your business a much wider customer base than you would be able to access through traditional retailing.
Marketplaces such as Ebay, Etsy, notonthehighstreet.com and even your own website provide an outlet for you to sell your niche products to an international audience. It’s worth taking a look at the government rules about selling online and distance selling at www.gov.uk/online-and-distance-selling-for-businesses/
The first decision you have to make is what selling platform to use and there are many advantages and disadvantages to them all.
Online Third Party Marketplaces
With a wide range of these sorts of marketplaces around you need to choose the one that your customer is more likely to use.
Benefits of third party marketplaces
The benefit of places like Ebay, Etsy and notonthehighstreet.com is that they already have a trusted audience that shop on their site and with a wide range of other products there is also a lot of choice. The customer also knows that when things go wrong there is someone they can trust and turn to for support.
Fees and cost
These types of marketplaces make their money by having listing or joining fees. The benefit is that you don’t have to worry about other countries tax and vat rates as these online marketplaces sort it all out for you.
Your own website
Though it can be a little bit technical to set up there are many benefits to having your own website. If you use something like a WordPress website hosted on a server then you have complete control over all the content. With so many themes you can simply design a website to suit your brand and design. Plus it is really easy to add something like WooCommerce to your site to sell your products online.
You need to be sure that you have the right terms and conditions and other policies on your website and that you conform to The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
The SSL Certificate adds a simple ‘S’ which stands for Secure to a HTTP address for example – https://www.example.com. This connection allows the browser user to establish a secure connection with the website being browsed. It keeps data secure and increases Google Rankings plus also adds customer trust to your website.
Payment Service Providers (PSP)
When attached to your site a PSP offers online shops a means to accept electronic payment. Paypal is probably the more commonly recognised PSP though there are others. A customer gain trust in you when using a PSP service like this knowing that their details are safe and secure as they are not held by you or your website.
Card Payment and PCI DSS
What is PCI DSS? The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard was set up to help businesses process card payments securely and reduce card fraud. If you want to accept card payments you need to be PCI DSS compliant and adhere to the high level requirements to ensure to keep your customers card data secure.
Get traffic to your website
You will probably need to set up a Facebook page and other social media where your potential customers hang out to send them on to your website and slowly build up an audience and customers base. Though this sounds simple it can be a long process particularly when Facebook are constantly changing their algorithm. It is however worth doing as once you have a happy customer they will keep coming back and telling all their friends about you.
Note – Before you can sell online you need to be sure that you have a valid CPSR for your products and they are labelled correctly, you have product liability insurance and you have registered with HMRC.