Selling Online

Selling Online is one of the fastest-growing sources of mail-order sales. It’s estimated that e-commerce sales have been growing nine times faster than traditional in-store sales since 1998. According to The U.S. Census Bureau’s report on retail sales in the US, the total e-commerce sales for 2019 are estimated at over 600 billion dollars, in revenue and it is expected to continue growing! It is also one of the quickest and easiest ways to begin making money online. Selling your handmade products or services online is a low cost way to enter into selling online which requires less overall investment!

The Benefits of Selling Online are Multi-fold:
• You have direct access to a worldwide customer base, spanning local, regional, and national demographics.
• Online platforms offer convenience for customers, enabling them to browse and purchase products at their convenience.
•Handling customer orders and inquiries online streamlines communication, allowing for prompt responses and reducing manual data entry.
•Online shareable options makes Word-of-mouth marketing a breeze through social media and link sharing.

My Personal Journey:
Selling online is my success story which started in the early days of the Internet ! My personal journey in online sales serves as a testament to the unlimited money making possibles of selling online. When my husband and I an online selling endeavor, we capitalized on his passion for woodworking. My creative juices began to go into overdrive, thinking about his skills and my knowledge of the Internet.

Combining my husband’s passion for woodworking with my knowledge of how to make money online , we ventured into offering unique, handcrafted wooden products. Our business took off quickly and turn into a full time career . A couple of our products was featured on prominent TV shows like the Martha Stewart Show and Extreme Home Makeover. I accredit my online success to having learned SEO early in my Internet career!

Quick Start Guide To Selling Online

Legal Requirements To Consider
From a legal perspective, selling online involves several key requirements to ensure compliance with regulations and protect your business interests. Here are some important legal considerations:

Distinguishing Between A Hobby and A Business:
According to the IRS, engaging in online selling with the intent of making a profit makes it as a business endeavor, not a hobby . Which means individuals are required to report their income earned from online sales to the IRS. It is important that you treat online ventures with a business-oriented mindset.

Apply For Sales Tax Permit If It Applies
As a retailer, you may be required to collect sales taxes on behalf of your State Revenue Office if your State imposes a sales tax.

The Sales Tax ID Will Serve Two Purposes:

1. Permission To Collect Sales Taxes
The Sales Tax ID gives the seller of retail products the right or permission to collect sales taxes from their customers on behalf of the government. Depending on your state tax requirements you maybe required to remit the sales tax to the state revenue office monthly or semi-annually .

2. Sales Tax Exemption
With a sales tax permit you can purchase products or supplies from a wholesaler or in some cases a retailer and not have to pay sales tax, as long as the products or finished product is intended for resale to the general public.

How to Apply For A Sales Tax ID:
Contact your State Revenue Office  for more information on the sales tax permit or re-sellers certificate requirements for online sellers.

Intellectual Property Protection:
Protect your brand, products, and content by securing trademarks, copyrights, and patents as necessary. Trademark registration is particularly important for protecting your business name, logo, and other branding elements.

E-commerce Compliance:
Ensure compliance with e-commerce regulations, such as consumer protection laws, data protection regulations (e.g., GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California), and complying with consumer protection laws related to refunds, warranties, and product safety, are essential for avoiding legal issues.

Regulatory Compliance:
Depending on your industry and the nature of your products or services, you may need to comply with industry-specific regulations and standards. For example, businesses selling food, cosmetics, or health-related products may need to adhere to FDA regulations, while financial services businesses must comply with banking and securities laws.

Legal Consultation:

This are just a few quick start requirements other requirements will depend on what you are selling online, consider consulting with legal professionals, such as business attorneys or specialized e-commerce lawyers, to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and to protect your business from legal risks. By addressing these legal requirements upfront, you can establish a strong legal foundation for your online business and minimize the risk of legal disputes or regulatory penalties down the road.

Getting Started:

Identify Your Niche:
Determine what products or services you want to sell online. Consider your interests, expertise, market demand, and competition.

Market Research:
Research your target audience, their needs, preferences, and purchasing behavior. Identify gaps in the market that your business can fill.

Business Plan:
Create a detailed business plan outlining your goals, target market, pricing strategy, marketing plan, and financial projections. A solid plan will guide your decisions and attract investors if needed.

Register Your Business:
Choose a business name and register it with the appropriate authorities. Decide on the legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC) and obtain any necessary permits or licenses.

Set Up Your Online Store:
Selling online involves several key steps to effectively reach customers and generate sales.

Choose Your Sales Platform:
Decide where you want to sell your products online.

Online Marketplace:
Online E-commerce Platforms such as Etsy, Amazon and eBay, offer low startup cost, each provide a ready-made marketplace where you can list your products quickly and easily. Over time the fees quickly add up and deplete the profits. There is an advantage to setting up your own ecommerce site.

Setting Up Your Own Store
There many different ways to setup your own online e-commerce site. My favorite is WordPress WooCommerce, WooCommerce offers several advantages over using an online marketplace.
With WordPress WooCommerce, you have full control over your store’s design, branding, and functionality, allowing you to create a unique and customized shopping experience for your customers.
You can tailor your store’s layout, features, and content to reflect your brand identity and business goals. Additionally, having your own store enables you to build direct relationships with your customers, collect customer data, and retain full control over pricing, promotions, and policies. This independence provides greater flexibility and scalability for your business, empowering you to adapt to changing market trends and scale your operations according to your needs. The cost of setting up a online store with WordPress WooCommerce is far cheaper than using Shopify or SquareSpace.

Social Media:
Selling on social Media Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shops, or Pinterest allow you to sell directly to your followers.

Branding
Customize your store to reflect your brand identity and optimize your product listings with high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and competitive pricing.

Set Up Payment Processing:
Choose a payment gateway to accept online payments securely. Most e-commerce platforms offer built-in payment processing options, or you can integrate third-party payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, or Square.

Optimize Your Listing For Search Engines (SEO):
Use relevant keywords in your product titles, descriptions, and tags to improve your visibility in search engine results. This will help potential customers find your products when they search online.

Promote Your Products: Drive traffic to your online store or listings through various marketing channels, including:

  • Social Media Marketing: Share product photos, videos, and promotions on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list of subscribers and send targeted email campaigns to promote your products and special offers.

Provide Excellent Customer Service:
Offer responsive customer support to address inquiries, resolve issues, and provide assistance throughout the purchasing process. Positive customer experiences can lead to repeat business and referrals.

Monitor Performance and Adapt:
Track your sales, website traffic, and customer behavior using analytics tools provided by your chosen platform. Use this data to evaluate your performance, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

By following these steps and continuously refining your approach, you can effectively sell your products online and grow your business in the digital marketplace.