The last few years have really cemented the growing supremacy of online retail over its in-person cousin. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated an already-growing trend towards digitization of shopping, and as a result, many smaller retailers have had to adjust on the fly to help their new brand get its footing. Not every retailer has to wind up on the list of 2022’s best online retailers to wind up a winner for your brand, though.
Once you’ve got your branding and merchandising down (for which the merchandising experts at Fast Simon have you covered), the next step for any new retail business is to figure out where to sell. And while building your own website for this can be a long-term winner, the upfront expense of both time and money can deter new entrepreneurs who are already operating on tight schedules and budgets. Luckily, E-Commerce has become large enough in recent years that there are many sites in place that will help you save time and money on your new business. So here’s a small collection of some places to check out when you’re getting ready to start your sales:
If your business is centered on your creative spark and eye for visuals, then Etsy is probably going to be your go-to. As one of the biggest online retailers out there, especially among young, creative types, Etsy is a great place to start selling your merchandise. Etsy has a magical way of feeling like everything you buy from it has that personal touch that so many people love.
Though Etsy can be a bit intimidating at first, they have built a handy guide for new retailers that should help smooth out the transition to their platform. This guide reminds you of an important maxim for online retail: photography can make or break your products’ success. The platforms all rely heavily on visual marketing to make products seem interesting and nowhere is that more true than with our next site.
While more of a marketing tool, having an Instagram presence is near-essential for any new retailer. Photography is the name of the game here; Instagram is still the leading photo-only social media website, and as such, it can be an exceptional marketing tool for a retailer with the right branding and visual messaging. And there are a great many ways to use Instagram to your new brand’s advantage.
Using hashtags is a must, as they will help your content show up in a variety of places, including Instagram’s Discover section. Creative stories, or short videos that display temporarily, are a great way to vary up your marketing content so that it isn’t all just stationary pictures.
Another photo-centric site with huge marketing potential is Pinterest, especially if your business is focused on personal engagement and connection with your customers. Pinterest is a great place for storytellers, both visual and verbal, to create Pinterest boards in a way that sells more than just a product. If your brand and merchandising are directly tied to your lifestyle (or the lifestyle that your product attempts to support), then this is a great place to be.
Pinterest requires a more holistic approach than Instagram does because its boards display a larger (and more complete) set of photographs. If you are still working on getting your branding down but still need to start somewhere, then Pinterest probably isn’t the place for you quite yet; however, once you’ve got it all set up, Pinterest can provide huge returns for your business.
Finally, for something less social media and more straight-up commerce, Shopify is a good option for both new businesses and established ones looking to move online easily. Shopify helps you more with the back-end, financial/administrative side of your business than the other sites listed here, which is why Shopify isn’t free, unlike the others (though for marketing, you will likely wind up paying Etsy, Instagram, and/or Pinterest at some point to boost engagement).
Though Shopify is also less broadly used than its contemporaries I mentioned above, it is still home to more than 1 million businesses, making it quite a substantial platform in its own right. And with its integrated web design features, Shopify can be great for a business that has the branding but needs help with the back end.
Can E-Commerce and digital marketing be scary for entrepreneurs? Yes! It’s a great big world online, and with so many options to choose from when starting your new business, it can be extremely challenging to get started. However, if you have the right merchandising and brand coherence, any of these sites can help push you in front of the rest of the pack and on your way to online commerce success.
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