Summary: Getting in the shoes of the online customer is the biggest helper when starting as a professional online seller. This site helps you start to do that, providing tactics so you can sell products and provide the unique service that the best online customers expect. You were a customer and you remember what was good about good stores. That’s what you will bring to your store.

Online Retailers Still Have Tons of Ways to Grow

I wanted to ask you a question. What percentage of retail sales are made online? OK do you have an answer? What did you guess? Most people I ask typically will guess in the range from 25% to 50%. Would you believe that the real answer is 6.8% according to US Census data.

I thought that was low given the amount of attention online e-commerce gets. But it’s growing quickly. To me that is the best evidence that there is plenty of room for your online store. The internet , really hasn’t even gotten started yet so you are picking the perfect time to start.

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So while most people still go to the mall to shop, as an online seller it’s important to get in the shoes of the online customer to understand the challenges they face when buying online. Understanding these differences have allowed me to be successful where others weren’t and save money, before I spent it on stupid things that would have no chance of working.

So let’s get into it. First and foremost is understanding that your online store is one click away from another store. If a customer was at your brick and mortar shop, they might get in the car and

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go to another store to find a similar product. However, that’s a bit more of a time investment and there is the chance that the second store might not have what you are looking for. So you have to work harder to build trust when attracting online buyers.

Secondly, your customer is much more familiar with checking out at a local store, even if they have never been there. On an unfamiliar website, a customer is much more likely, even in this day and age, to fail to correctly check out then they are at a brick and mortar store. And if they do have trouble there is a clerk standing right there to help. Online getting them through the shopping cart is critical and it should be a very similar experience to the large e-commerce giants.

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Thirdly, when your customer goes to a local store, they get to take it home right way when they buy it. Forty-seven percent of shoppers point to avoiding shipping costs as the main reason to buy in-store. The other half (actually 46%) say being able to touch and feel the product is the second prime reason.

When they buy it at your online store they have to wait for it to be shipped to their home. The shipping policies and expectations are critical to success and growth online. You really have to spell things out like you’re talking to a nine year old online. This will make customers choose you over another. You have to work hard to find the fastest and easiest way to ship products.

The good news is that most of your online competition is too busy worrying about price to intelligently set up an online store that takes advantage of the best ways to price and describe your products, make it easy for them to buy, and clearly set out the expectations for shipping and returns, believe it or not all those things could allow you to charge a bit more, even online. Most of my books for example sell for at least a few dollars more than competing books.

And its because of the secrets I learned from studying how we buy online.

Updated 2/26/2016

There are more and more opportunities lately to partner locally. I think that the bookstore as a platform is as good a model to get inventory to sell online as doing the import export thing, because lots of people in your city are looking for better ways to sell their eBay and Amazon type items then actually doing it themselves. Arbitrage sellers also continue to grow even with more professionals in the world doing product scouting. Still, what I’ve really come to understand is that local stores can be a great asset. I’m hosting textbook buybacks, within the confines of a partner bookstore. It works great. I have a place to buy textbooks, he gets traffic from our promotional activities, the customer gets a place to sell textbooks, for cash at a better price. Win-win-win.

Feel free to ask us questions.