Do you know, the percentage of successful sellers is quite low in India? Majority of them don’t make any sales or even shut down their business.
There could be many reasons why they fail but the main reasons are:
- They are not passionate about online selling biz.
- They are not willing to learn or they fail to execute what they learned.
- They don’t have a long term vision and get frustrated by initial failures (temporary defeats).
I know you are serious and want to be successful otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.
Marketplaces and e-commerce SAAS platforms have made it easier for anyone to start his e-tailing business.
But, that’s not enough.
It’s necessary to know about what to do and expect as a beginner otherwise you could dig deep into losses.
You need to learn first time tips and tricks, which will go a long way to help you avoid costly mistakes and to be successful.
Though there is a lot of learning and research involved in becoming a successful seller, here is a 10 point most vital checklist before you sell first product online:
1. Set Goals
This is the first and most important part of any business. Goal setting helps you to chart out your business strategies.
Fix short-term, mid-term and long-term goals. Also, make a list of things that can go wrong and have a backup plan, just in case…
2. Be prepared to take risks and to learn
E-commerce is not an ordinary entrepreneurship. You have to be creative and hard working. Don’t expect overnight results.
Be prepared to take risks and don’t be afraid of failures especially in the beginning. Challenges like product returns are major reasons of discouragement for online sellers.
Have patience. Your business will take time to grow. Keep learning and never quit. You will definitely succeed.
3. Get your GST number and other licenses
If you are selling taxable items online, you are not allowed to sell without GST number. This is because there is zero exemption in e-commerce.
If you want to sell globally, you need IE(Importer Exporter) code.
You may also require other licenses as well. For example, food license to sell food items and license for weight & measure to sell weighing machines are required.
Discuss with your CA after finalizing the product category about the licenses you need to have.
4. First sell on marketplaces
Start selling on marketplaces first. As you are new, you need to learn the tips and tricks to sell online.
Learn new things, learn about potential of your product and know the market. When you feel you have enough knowledge, confidence and experience you can have your own store as well.
5. Study the competition in your niche and fix a competitive price of your product.
Competition is quite fierce in Indian e-commerce market. Think smartly about something different and unique that you can offer to the customers to have an edge over your competition.
This is especially true in case of branded products where profit margins are not so high and sellers try to beat others by offering extra discounts and freebies.
So don’t just sell at your own price. Pricing is the major factor contributing to your success.
6. Keep enough inventory
You shouldn’t invest much in the beginning but keep sufficient inventory so you are able to fulfill the orders faster. If you can’t stock inventory, don’t worry. You can purchase from local wholesalers after getting the order.
But, negotiate with the supplier before hand and list only those items he can supply you anytime you require. This is a good strategy in the beginning as you avoid the risk of unsold inventory stocks.
Also, while selling on marketplaces, if you get the order and are unable to procure that item your seller score gets affected and penalty will be imposed.
Once you know which items are your best sellers you can keep some stock of these.
7. Find suppliers who can give you genuine products at best price
You can find suppliers online or offline. It is advisable to find local suppliers in the beginning as mentioned in the previous point. Some important tips:
- If you want to purchase online, be careful while finding suppliers as you may end up dealing with middlemen who would charge more.
- Also, there have been cases of fraud as some people ask you to deposit advance payment in their account after which they send low-quality products different from what they promised. So make your own judgements to avoid such loss.
- You may unknowingly sell counterfeit products. Be sure while buying that you are not violating any trademark rules.
- And, don’t forget to have purchase invoice from the supplier( VAT invoice in case of taxable goods). You will need these while filing tax returns.
- Also. if you want to sell brands, you won’t have any brand authorization issues if you have VAT invoice from the supplier as a proof.
8. Don’t rely on one marketplace
List your products on multiple marketplaces. Different marketplaces have different commission charges. You have to see which marketplace gives you maximum profits.
Also, don’t list costly items in the beginning as it will take some time to learn and you are likely to make mistakes.
9. Choose e-commerce platform carefully for opening online store
The most common question that comes to sellers’ minds before opening store is whether they should use open source software like Magento or SAAS like shopify.
Well it is your choice. You will have to study and plan according to your requirements. But if you are a non-tech you should opt for self-hosted SAAS as you don’t have to bother about hosting and technical issues .
10. Make strategies to promote your online store in advance
After opening store don’t wait for your customers. They won’t come on their own. Solid marketing strategies to promote your store are extremely important. You need to learn things like keyword research, SEO etc. to bring in regular traffic.
I hope these tips will help every online seller who is serious about building a long-term business. By following these suggestions, chances are that anyone can build a profitable business.
Best of luck for your online venture.
If you are already selling and can share your experience that might be helpful to new sellers, please share in the comments below.