Hello Online Business Owners!
Do you want your business to be the best it can be? Are you craving that chance to grow and expand? Is it your time to fulfill the potential you know is there? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you’ve come to the right place!
Here is a curated list of no less than 50 helpful nuggets of wisdom from market leaders and experienced online sellers that will help you go out and start maximizing those profits!
Table Of Contents
— Shippo (@Shippo_uk) 13 September 2016
If you have any tips you swear by or would like to share, Tweet us at @Shippo_uk and we’ll put them up here!
General E-Commerce Tips
This section is dedicated to all the E-Commerce sellers out there; regardless of what platform you’re selling on, these universal tips are sure to help you out.
- Choose your product carefully.
“If you want to sell something, it’s easier to piggyback on a community or trend that already exists.” – Tucker Schreiber, How I Started An Online Business And Made $1,248 In 3 Weeks
- Make the checkout process easy and simple.
“My biggest tip to grow an ecommerce business is practically common sense, but I rarely see websites taking it as seriously as they should: remove friction from the checkout process,” – SEO Nick.
- Stay on top of Search Engine Optimisation.
“As the e-commerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses will be entering this increasingly crowded space. That means it will be more important than ever to stay on top of SEO,” – Entrepeneur, 9 Tips To Make Your E-Commerce Business Wildly Successful
- Implement a loyalty program.
“A solid loyalty program brings people back to your store, and it makes them feel appreciated for spending money on your company. You convince your most loyal customers to spend a little extra money, and they receive a reward for doing so,” E-Commerce Platforms.com, Blog Post: 50 Unbeatable E-Commerce Marketing Tips
- If sourcing products in Asia, be careful!
“The most dangerous obstacle in your path to the perfect supplier are the ocean of scammers and middle-men. Luckily, it’s not too difficult to avoid these low lives. In the linked blog post, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on avoiding scams, middle-men, and fraud on Alibaba.” – Start Up Bros., Blog Post: How To Avoid Scams, Middlemen and Fraud On Alibaba
- Dispatch your goods quickly.
“Ship your products in a timely fashion. Meet the expectations of your customers. Follow-up with confirmations. Ask for feedback. A sure way to lose a customer and get a bad review is to oversell and under deliver.” Practical E-Commerce, Blog Post: 13 Tips For Business Success
- Earn and display trust badges.
“Programs like Google Trusted Stores offer badges for E-Commerce vendors to display on their sites, but it takes some time to earn the right to publish them. Let customers know their transactions are secure by displaying PayPal’s Certified Integration Logo or that their entire shopping experience is safe with Norton’s VeriSign badge. PayPal’s Certified logo lets customers know that their transactions are secure.” – CPC Strategy, 7 Tips For Starting A Successful E-Commerce Business
- Spend time promoting!
“Too many entrepreneurs think, “We’ll just launch it and make millions!” No one will end up on your site accidentally–the Web is just too big. Every person who visits your new site searched, saw an ad, or was somehow told to visit your site. You need to have a plan to get traffic to your site in a very direct way, so enlist the help of a PR or advertising firm to assist with SEO efforts and getting back links to your site.” – Inc., Blog Post: 10 Dos and Don’ts of Launching An E-Commerce Company
- Follow up with your customers to find out what you need to be improving.
“When you have an online business, you can always benefit by asking your customers what they would like to see improved. Seriously, if you ask, they will tell you. Send an email to your previous customers or even write a blog post asking for suggestions on how to make their experience a little better. Remember, it’s all about your audience’s experience, not your own.” – Smart Passive Income, Blog Post: 10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Improve Your Online Business Or Blog
- Craft better product descriptions
“According to Drew Barton, CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Web Group, the best product descriptions include roughly 75 words of copy, preferably 200. “Under the hood” details should also be readily available on the site, including details such as the size, shipping, and weight of the product. Specifics such as the compatibility of a replacement product or the size of an article of clothing should also be noted” – Inc., Blog Post: 7 Tips For Effective E-Commerce
- Visit your home page “for the first time” and see how your visitors will see you.
“First impressions are HUGELY important, especially online. You’ve got less than 10 seconds to make a new visitor decide to stick around, or else they’re going to leave. So, what can we do? Role play. Pretend to be a brand new visitor to your site.” – Smart Passive Income, Blog Post: 10 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Improve Your Online Business Or Blog
- Make sure your website loads quickly.
“For every second it takes your page to load – you have just lost an impatient customer (aim for 3 seconds – 6 or more seconds is too slow). You can monitor your site speed through Google Analytics.” – Small Business Bc, Blog Post: 21 Quick Tips To Sell More Products Online
- Make sure your website encourages sharing.
“Big social sharing buttons on product pages, clean template design, and post purchase sharing are a must” – Shopify, Blog Post: 41 Of The Single Best Pieces Of Advice For Selling Online From Successful Entrepreneurs
- Customer retention is important!
“It costs five times more to get a new customer than to retain an old one. Since this is true, you’d think that most companies would be aggressive about customer retention.Your current customers are one of the best sources of sales, but it requires very little sales to maintain them as customers.” – Inc, Blog Post: 7 Online Marketing Tips For Entrepreneurs Who Can’t Market Or Sell
- Choose your product carefully.
If you’re a seller that’s hosted on Amazon, these are tips specially curated for you! They cover everything exclusive to Amazon (features such as FBA – Fulfilled By Amazon – and problems like restricted categories) so that by the time you’ve finished reading them you’ll be a veritable expert.
- Choose your product categories wisely.
“Some of the most desired categories on Amazon.com for FBA sellers require getting approval from Amazon in order to sell in them. That is good news for someone who is approved because there is less competition in these categories, versus the unrestricted categories.” – The Selling Family, Blog Post: How To Get Approved For Restricted Items Categories In Amazon.
- If you’re selling a product that has multiple sellers, be careful how you price it.
“Amazon has what is called a buy box, which is the seller being featured at the time you look at the item. The seller will rotate with other sellers so that everyone in a price range will be featured and get sales. We don’t want to price so high that we get moved out of the rotation, but we also don’t want to come in too low, and price others out of the rotation. If we do, they would have to lower their price and then it just starts a downward price spiral.” – Making Sense Of Cents, Blog Post: How To Work From Home Using Amazing FBA
- Take advantage of peak seasonal traffic to maximise earning potential.
“Amazon seasonal shopping – it’s real, it’s predictable & yes, there are a lot of sellers who ONLY sell during the run up to Black Friday & Christmas because IT’S SO PROFITABLE! People seriously start shopping. And buying. Everything. And as my inventory started selling, I INCREASED prices because I didn’t want to run out of inventory. And people kept buying even at the higher prices, because stock was running out. And you know – last minute Christmas shoppers are willing to pay more.” – MomSource, Blog Post: How To Sell On Amazon
- Consider selling on using Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) to gain access to Prime members.
“FBA items are noted as “Prime” items on the Amazon website. Anyone with a Prime membership can get these items shipped for free sometimes in as little as one day. Many people will only purchase Prime items. So by having your items in the Amazon warehouses, you automatically increase your sales.” – BusyBudgeter, Blog Post: How I Earn Thousands Through Selling On Amazon
- Decide what type of selling account you want – which is better suited to your needs?
“A professional seller is someone who sells more than 40 items per month. You pay $40/month to Amazon to be categorized as pro, but you can sell unlimited quantities. As an individual seller, you can’t sell more than 40 items per month, and you you pay by the item at $1 each. If you plan to sell on Amazon regularly, it’s much more affordable to go “pro”. – BrilliantBusinessMoms, Blog Post: How To Sell On Amazon
- Be careful when writing your product descriptions!
“Many humans have paid me to do their SEO, and so I learned about Google keywords. Amazon is a little different. For instance, Google wants to have me repeat my keywords (or some version) throughout the post in a natural way, without over-doing it. Not so in building Amazon product pages. All the words you use in your title do not (and shouldn’t) be repeated in your list of keywords. If your title is “Monkey Chow & Monkey Diapers – Bundle of Two,” you won’t use those words again when listing out keywords on the back-end of your listing.” – SeekBuySell, Blog Post: 5 Mistakes I Made With Amazon Bundles
- To make a profit, sell your items for approximately 3x the purchase costs
“If you want to make 100% return on your items (this means for every $1 you put in you get $2) you need to be able to sell the item on Amazon for about three times what you buy it for. For example, if you can buy an item for $10, but it is selling for $30 on Amazon it is a pretty good indicator that that would be a good buy. If you purchase the product for $10 and plan on selling it for $30 there will be about $10 in fees, shipping expenses etc. to factor in thus leaving your return $20” – MomsMakeCents, Blog Post: The Ultimate Guide To Amazon, FBA
- Respond to customers quickly!
“When you get a question from a customer, Amazon wants you to answer it within 24 hours and if you do not that is a demerit against your account. You can see customer questions in your Seller Central just to the left of the page and you can set up your account so customer questions are forwarded to your email so you can answer them even if you are not currently working on Amazon.” – Skip McGrath, Blog Post: Amazon Selling Tips
- Get reviews.
“The power of customer reviews is enormous, 88% of consumers now say that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.Around 90% of Amazon buyers fail to leave feedback. Amazon stresses an importance on seller performance, when ranking your items in the top positions.” E-Commerce Platforms.com, Blog Post: 7 Tips For Amazon Sellers To Increase Sales
- Consider giving products away in exchange for reviews and sales boosts
“I issued $1 coupons to a group of Amazon product reviewers (not sure I’m ready to reveal the source), and they got redeemed. I didn’t make any money from those coupons, but this sudden spike in sales also boosted my Amazon best seller rank. As a result, my product was listed higher on Amazon in various categories AND for the keywords I was targeting.” -Niche Pursuits, Blog Post: How I Went From 0 To $4,399 In Sales With An Amazon FBA Business In 30 Days
- Sell in the “middle ground” of popular products.
“It may be tempting to think that selling the most popular items on Amazon is a surefire recipe for success. But when you think about it, how many merchants out there are selling Xbox systems and iPods? Plenty, which makes competing with them pretty tough. Instead, widen your horizon to the top 1,000 items or so.” – Repricer Express, Blog Post: 10 Tips For Selling On Amazon
- Learn all of the Amazon lingo!
“There are many acronyms that are used regularly in Facebook groups, and on blogs that relate to selling on Amazon that will be foreign to you when you just get started selling on Amazon. Some of the more common ones you will run into: ROI, MF, FBA, RA, OA, and many others,” – Online Selling Experiment, Blog Post: 10 Tips For Sellers Just Getting Started On Amazon
- Own the buy box.
“The buy box is critical for sellers that offer the same products sold by multiple sellers. You’re competing with them for the Buy Box. What makes winning the Buy Box difficult is that Amazon uses a top secret algorithm to determine whose products are shown in the Buy Box. While we can’t tell you the exact steps you need to take to win the box, we do know that low price, inventory availability, fulfillment options, seller ratings, and positive customer reviews are all important factors in winning. If you create a unique item bundle (like 3 related skin care products), you’re going to win the Buy Box every time.” – N Channel, Blog Post: 10 Amazon Selling Tips All Sellers Need To Know
- Use Fulfilled By Amazon – remember, if you do use FBA, we can deliver your imported goods straight to the Amazon Warehouse. This means you don’t even have to touch the products your selling! How much time is cut out of that process?
“FBA eliminates fulfillment shipping efforts for sellers. Instead handling warehouse management & packaging (handling shipping, picking) and those associated fees, retailers can pass off those task to Amazon. Amazon Prime customers purchase more, and more frequently than traditional Amazon shoppers.Using FBA increases product discover-ability as FBA products feature Prime shipping, and appear for Prime filtered searches.” – CPC Strategy, Blog Post: Fulfillment By Amazon
Shippo; Amazon Selling Tricks, eBay Selling Advice, Selling on eBay Tips, trends
- Choose your product categories wisely.
If you’re an Ebay seller, these are the tips for you!
- Watch all your costs/fees.
“Shipping costs these days can ruin a business. It generally costs about $10-$20 to send a box of something, depending on what it is. That snow globe you thought was worthless and it actually sold for $30, by time eBay is done with you, you will have only profited $7. It’ll cost 16% in eBay/Paypal fees, about $10-$13 to ship it and another $5 in miscellaneous supplies.” – TheWorkAtHomeWife, Blog Post: 7 Tips To Make A Living On Ebay
- Don’t automatically submit your pricing under “auction”.
“When I first started selling on eBay, eBay and Amazon were really the only two online stores, and Amazon mainly sold books. So I was able to list all of my eBay items at auction starting at 99-cents and the bidding would go crazy. Now, however, people want to be able to just buy what they want when they see it. I only run an auction if I have absolutely no idea what to price an item or if I think a bidding war will break out.” – SeeAnneSave, Blog Post: Make Real Money At Home Selling On Ebay
- Be very, very careful. Cover your back with accurate product images and descriptions and proof of postage.
“The money back guarantee is a nightmare for you as a seller because it takes the decision of whether or not to refund a buyer out of your hands. In effect, eBay have taken over an integral part of your business not to mention your ability to manage your cash flow. In addition, eBay rarely decides in favour of the seller so even if the buyer has misrepresented your product, failed to provide evidence or just out-right lied, you will invariably be required to provide a refund for the product and the postage, plus the buyer will probably get to keep your item, too.” – SmartMoneySimpleLife, Blog Post: How To Sell On Ebay and Not Get Scammed
- Choose the timing of your auctions with thought rather than just randomly.
“In general, the best time to end any auction is on a Sunday evening. This has been proven as the day most casual buyers go for a browse so is the time that things heat up at auction. Therefore, if you’re going for the maximum 10 day auction (which is always the best option as this increases the chances of getting more bids), list it on a Thursday evening for maximum exposure to potential buyers.” – Save The Student, Blog Post: 10 Vital Selling Tips For Ebay Success
- Leave positive reviews for buyers too.
“Finally, follow eBay’s golden rule and leave positive feedback for buyers and they will return the favor.” – Forbes, Blog Post: How To Hit A Home Run Selling On eBay
- To drum up more sales, start by selling small and cheap products.
“It’s all about selling super cheap products. I’m talking about items that sell for between £1.99 – £2.99 max, including free shipping!Very low priced items, that cost you no more than 20-30p to buy in bulk.Small, lightweight items that can be sent via Royal Mail letter or Royal Mail large letter (still no more than 100g)” – Andrew Minalto, Blog Post: How To Start An Ebay Business On A Budget
- Don’t inflate shipping costs
“Inflated shipping costs and the “penny to buy, $40 to ship” method really turn buyers off. If they see an unreasonable shipping cost, they won’t even give your item a chance. In fact, if the actual shipping cost is low, I recommend you don’t even charge anything for shipping and take the loss. Free shipping is very attractive to potential bidders.” – MoneyCrashers, Ebay Selling Tips To Maximise Your Profits
- Choose your user ID carefully
“Pick a name that’s descriptive, easy to remember and instantly identifiable with your niche. Your user ID will become your business identification–the name that people in the eBay universe will learn to search for when they want to buy your products.” – Entrepeneur, Blog Post: 51 Secrets To Ebay Selling
- Decide what shop subscription you need.
“Basic Shop – £19.99 per month. Suitable for sellers who are just starting out and want an affordable and easy-to-use platform to sell online.
Featured Shop – £59.99 per month. A more comprehensive package for small-to-medium sized sellers who want to grow their online business.
Anchor Shop – £349.99 per month. An advanced shop for higher-volume sellers who want maximum exposure on eBay.” – Startups, Blog Post: Setting Up An Ebay Shop
- Create a shop URL/ domain name.
“Create a Shop URL (web address) that’s easy for buyers to remember by registering a domain name (for example, www.fancyclocks.com). Buyers who go to that URL will be automatically forwarded to your eBay Shop. (Your eBay Shop also has its own personalised website address that you can use to help buyers get to your Shop.)” – SellerCentre.Ebay
- Don’t just write your descriptions; edit them too
“Listings formatted with HTML look more professional than plain, unformatted text. Use the HTML editor built in to both eBay’s “Sell Your Item” form and eBay’s free Turbo Lister. With the HTML editor, you can format description text quickly and easily.” – Entrepreneur, Blog Post: 51 Secrets To Ebay Selling
- Keep track of all expenses – even small ones.
“Keep track of expenses. The difference in listing fees between starting an item at $9.99 and at $10.00 is 25 cents. That adds up to $25 if you’re listing 100 items per week. Also pay attention to hidden costs like shipping supplies and postage” – Entrepreneur, Blog Post: 51 Secrets To Ebay Selling
- Encourage multiple purchases.
“Offer combined shipping discounts to drive additional sales. Encourage buyers to purchase multiple items by offering discounts on multiple items. Or, use Markdown Manager for your Store Inventory or Fixed Price listings to create a limited time sale or free shipping to create a sense of purchase urgency.” – Ebay Seller Centre, Blog Post: Top 10 Selling Growth Strategies
- If things go wrong, claim back your final value fees.
“If an eBay transaction is cancelled or not completed, the seller may be able to be credited for their final value fee. To be eligible for this credit, sellers must resolve ‘a return, refund, or cancellation request opened in My eBay or Seller Hub’ or open an unpaid case.” – Action Nudge, Blog Post: How To Claim Back Final Value Fees
- Take care with shipping so that your goods always arrive to the buyer safely.
“Sellers are responsible for items until the buyer receives them. If an item is damaged during transit, the buyer has the right to request a refund based on the item not matching the description in the listing.” – Action Nudge, Blog Post: Packing Tips To Ensure Goods Do Not Arrive Damaged
- Make sure your product images are of a good quality and attractive.
“The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is never more true than with on-line auctions. Not having a photo of your item will greatly reduce your bids, and lead to unprofitable or unsuccessful auctions. Not only must you have a photograph of what you are selling, the photo must be accurate and revealing.” – Skip McGrath, Blog Post: The Top 5 Reasons Ebay Sellers Fail
- Create an attractive shop window.
“Whenever you walk past a successful high street store you will notice that their shop window always looks really attractive. This is purposely done to attract a lot of visitors. The same could be said about eBay listings. Your shop window is everything that a potential customer will see before they decided to click on your listing.” – DeyTips, Blog Post: 3 Quick Ebay Selling Tips
- Watch all your costs/fees.
Marketing / Promotion Tips
One of the most important parts of running your online business is knowing how to share it. Promotion and marketing is a key part of every business and is essential in reaching a broader audience and attracting new customers.
— Shippo (@Shippo_uk) 13 September 2016
- Look for where your target audience already is – forums like Reddit, for example.
“I started by sharing the Corgi Low Rider Tee on the popular subreddit /r/shutupandtakemymoney on launch day of the store. It’s not a targeted audience by any means – the only advantage is that everyone who is in this community wants to spend money. I swear, people who browse this subreddit have their credit cards in hand.And that, proved to be the golden ticket to an unexpected blast off.” – Tucker Schreiber, How I Started An Online Business And Made $1,248 In 3 Weeks
- Create a content marketing strategy.
“The best way to drive organic leads is to focus on a content-heavy strategy. While the ongoing costs of developing and publishing steady, quality content will likely seem high, it almost always pays off in a quantifiable manner.” – SmallBiz, 8 Tips For Running A Successful Small Business
- Make videos (for example: how to videos) showcasing your products.
“YouTube channels are always a fun way to connect with customers, but what about putting a hard focus on how-to tutorials? If you sell something like gardening gear, customers may not know the best ways to use the stuff they buy. Videos bring them back to your store and ensure they feel right about buying from you.” E-Commerce Platforms.com, Blog Post: 50 Unbeatable E-Commerce Marketing Tips
- Make sure your FAQ are up to date – and unique to your company (in terms of personality and voice) as well as consistent.
“The FAQ page is an area that gets lots of visits on ecommerce stores, but does it show off your company culture? Think about whether or not you want to reveal a goofy or professional culture and let it shine in the FAQs.” E-Commerce Platforms.com, Blog Post: 50 Unbeatable E-Commerce Marketing Tips
- Submit ads to free advertising spaces.
“Submit ads about your products to free advertising sites ike Craigslist, Free Advertising Forum, Kijiji, and slews of niche advertisers. Always submit photos or links back to your products on eBay when given the opportunity in these free sites.” – Ebay, Blog Post: 10 Great and Inexpensive Ways To Advertise Your Ebay Shop
- Build relationships with influencers.
“We really, really like bloggers for our niche store. So if you’ve got a niche product, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community of bloggers that suit your product. Offer them samples and let them know of your sales. They’ll get you free publicity, and their word will be a lot stronger with their readers than your own words ever will be!” – BigCommerce, Blog Post: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Favourite Advice For Selling Online
- Offer deals on a regular basis.
“Most online marketplaces will give you the option to hold sales and/or use promo codes to help entice shoppers. Be sure to do this on a regular basis. From taking advantage of holiday shopping (get 15% off for Father’s Day etc.) to simply offering great deals for no reason at all, this will help ensure you have regular web traffic.” – Scott’s Marketplace, Blog Post – 34 Ways To Promote Your Online Shop
- Try paid advertising on social media.
“Sites like Facebook and Twitter (and now Pinterest too!) offer the ability to use paid advertising to target the right consumers for you. If you try this on Facebook, we suggest selecting a metric such as ‘website clicks’ or ‘website conversions,’ because you want people to click through to your online store’s URL, not your fan page.” – Scott’s Marketplace, Blog Post – 34 Ways To Promote Your Online Shop
- Hand out your business cards.
“Always carry business cards with you. Give them freely and ask permission to leave them in places your target market may visit.” – The Balance, Blog Post: 50 Marketing Ideas For Retailers
- Write press releases.
“Send out a press release detailing your business proposition and what makes it unique. Target all relevant newspapers, websites, magazines and radio. Do this even if you think your product isn’t the most exciting. It could be a slow news day and you might be exactly what they’re looking for.” – Smarta, Blog Post: 18 Ways To Market Your Product On A Tiny Budget
- Run a competition!
“Give something away and get people talking about your business. You could run a competition from your shop and advertise it online. This could get more people visiting your shop: more people will see your awesome products and ultimately buy from you.” – Smarta, Blog Post: 18 Ways To Market Your Product On A Tiny Budge
- Look for where your target audience already is – forums like Reddit, for example.
If you made it to the end, congratulations! Hopefully you are now full of inspiration and ideas that you now want to use to boost your business.
As a last little surprise for you, we have a tip from one of our own customers – taken from his Tips and Tricks post, How To Supplement Your Income At Home With An E-Commerce Business.
“Be careful when importing your goods.”
Before you implement any of these strategies, you will need to get your products here and ready to sell. For a lot of E-Commerce sellers, this means importing your goods – which can be tricky and at times dangerous (the hidden fees can be lethal). Be careful when importing your stock and make sure to use a service that you trust; we here at Shippo specialise in looking after small businesses and are the most up-front, transparent and supportive solution around. If you ever need any shipping advice, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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