What you need to sell online

It's easy to be daunted by the sheer scale of trying to sell your vast range of products through an online shop.

But in these days of technological advance and automation, it's certainly possible and probably easier than you expected.

But first, why bother?

Figures from the UK's largest ecommerce platform, EKM, revealed that orders from independent retailers shot up by 100% in the month following the Stay At Home announcement, compared to the same period last year.

And according to the British Independent Retailers' Association (bira) the trend towards combining online shopping with a physical store is showing little sign of slowing down despite high street shops reopening.

Few retailers have the knowledge or time to set up and run their own online shop and should weigh up whether to bring in an IT specialist or, more likely, go to one of the many platforms that provide the templates, mechanics and support to operate your online shop.

But once you have set off down this track, you need to populate your website. There are two important factors here – what do consumers want and can your suppliers provide the necessary information in the right format?

As far as the former is concerned, emphasise up front your green credentials, your aversion to single-use plastics, your impeccable ethics, your personable approach and your determination to do right by your customers. There are plenty of research figures to show that these things are very important to today's consumer.

And as for the second point, ask your suppliers for their assistance. A web-ready listing requires certain essentials and most suppliers understand this and have worked hard to make it easy for you. In this way, they will sell more product because you do.

These are the things that you will need, per product, in one package from your suppliers:

  • Barcode
  • Simple product image at high enough resolution to be clear and not 'fuzzy'
  • Product Description
  • Pack size (not everything comes in singles)
  • Product size/weight
  • Whether VATable
  • RRP
  • Ingredients
  • Attributes – is it vegan, vegetarian, organic, gluten free, dairy free etc?
  • If it contains any allergens

The main purpose of your listing is to encourage the customer to buy, but you are also obliged to provide certain information as the above list shows, almost all of them viewable by clicking on the product image.

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