From storefronts to screens – How to start selling online

September 20, 2023

Businesses worldwide are embracing the boundless potential of the online marketplace as a key component of their sales strategy – and you can, too.

Whether you’re a family-owned business with a rich legacy or a fresh startup eager to make your mark, exploring the latest technology advancements in online selling can boost customer engagement and loyalty.

A significant shift in consumer behavior played its part in facilitating the increased e-commerce spend in recent years. While consumers were already migrating toward online-centric shopping before 2020, the global pandemic greatly accelerated this change. Pre-pandemic statistics indicated that global e-commerce sales were expected to rise 9% in 2020. However, due to the pandemic's unexpected effects, there was an additional 19% sales growth. 

Let’s explore the potential for your business, and dive into the world of online selling in 2023.

What is online selling?

Online selling – or e-commerce – extends far beyond being just a digital storefront. 

Whether you're looking to start selling online for the first time or aiming to elevate your existing e-commerce game, selling online can be simpler than it seems. With the right approach and the latest tech functionality, every click could be transformed into an opportunity and every visit into a potential sale.

Online selling is all about merging the age-old, tried-and-tested principles of commerce with the limitless potential of technology, creating new avenues for growth and customer engagement.

The benefits of selling online

Embracing the digital marketplace opens a whole host of advantages for merchants, both new and established.

Data-driven insights

Digital platforms offer a wealth of analytics. From understanding your best-selling products to identifying peak shopping times, these insights can allow for tailored strategies, contributing toward more informed marketing and better inventory management.

Personalized shopping experiences

Online selling tools enable you to offer tailored recommendations, loyalty rewards and targeted promotions, creating a curated experience for each customer. In turn, this could contribute toward increased sales and more loyal customers.

Flexibility and scalability

Adapting to market changes or scaling your business can become much simpler. Whether it's introducing new products or expanding into international markets, e-commerce platforms can help you grow more seamlessly.  

Things to consider when selling online

Leaping into the digital marketplace is exciting, but like any venture, it comes with its unique set of challenges.

Customer experience

73% of consumers cite customer experience as a major factor in purchasing decisions.

A customer-focused website can help boost the customer experience and increase your online selling success.

Ensuring that your site is easy to navigate, mobile responsive and intuitive can make the difference between a completed sale and a lost customer.

Data security

Handling personal and financial information responsibly is vital. 

Ensure that you have effective cybersecurity measures in place to prevent data breaches and select payment platforms known for their stringent security protocols.

Inventory management

Balancing stock levels can be trickier online, especially if you're selling digitally and in a physical store. 

Your business can benefit from integrated inventory management systems to avoid overselling or stockouts. These systems track your product quantities in real time, ensuring that what's displayed on your online store reflects the actual stock on hand. 

Shipping and returns

Customers expect prompt and affordable delivery. 

Establishing clear shipping policies and being transparent about your return procedures and any shipping costs can help you build trust and boost customer retention.

Legalities and regulations

Different regions have varying rules regarding online sales, taxes and customer rights. 

Take time to familiarize yourself with these to ensure compliance wherever you sell.

How to get started selling online

With the right strategy and technology, you and your business have the potential to not only compete, but forge ahead in the digital marketplace. 

Let’s explore how to get started:

1. Choose your platform

Begin by selecting an e-commerce platform that aligns with your needs. 

Shopping cart platforms offer user-friendly interfaces, customizability and integrated payment systems, like Worldpay from FIS®, helping to make your setup process more straightforward.

2. Prioritize convenient payments

By choosing payment gateways that support a variety of methods and installment plans, you allow your customers to use their preferred payment options for a more seamless checkout experience. 

By focusing on convenience and reducing friction, you can enhance the customers’ overall shopping journey.

3. Ensure transactions are secure

Integrate trusted payment platforms that work hard to uphold rigorous security measures.

This helps protect your business and instill confidence in your customers. 

4. Promote your online presence

Harness the power of social media, email marketing and search engine optimization to drive traffic to your site. 

These tools are especially effective for small businesses carving out their digital footprint.

A quick summary

Take the time to understand your customers, use available tools and be ready to adapt and evolve so that you can navigate the challenges of online selling and exceed your customers’ expectations.

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