Running a business, especially one with a traditional store front is a lot of work. Your overhead is high, you have to maintain your store, as well as physically man it during operating hours.
The other thing is that there is only one place where people can buy your stuff…..at your store.
But what if people want to buy from you, but they don't live near by? What if they don't want to travel to your store to get what they want? You want to make it easy for people to buy from you and you want to reach as many of your customers as you can.
So why not bring the products out of your store and get them out where your potential customers like to hang out? Whether it's offline or online, finding places other than your store front to sell your goods can have a tremendous impact on your business. No longer do you have to try to figure out how to get people into your store, you bring the store to them.
Here are 6 ways you can get your products out of your store and in front of potential buyers.
I think pretty much everyone knows what Ebay is, with some people being totally addicted to buying there. I've purchased everything from flooring nailers to coupons on Ebay over the years. Why not take some of your inventory and start listing it?
You can list products as an individual, or if you sell a lot there, you can open up your own virtual store front. The upside is that there is a huge marketplace of people looking to buy just about anything on Ebay. The downside is that if you sell something, the fees you pay are pretty high, around 10-12% of the value of the sale. Great place if you have higher margin items to sell.
Selling on Amazon is a bit like selling on Ebay, with less of a flea market feel to it. There are two things you can do on Amazon, at least that I know of. You can sell your products on the Amazon Marketplace as a third party individual or business, where your products show up as part of the Amazon store and you are listed as an additional Marketplace seller. The other option is advertising your products on Amazon and actually have people click on your product ad and go directly to your website, sort of like Pay Per Click marketing with Google Adwords.
Both are great options as you are tapping into the biggest online marketplace on the planet. The downside being, like Ebay, the selling fees tend to be high, with an average selling fee of 8-15%. If you have higher margin products, you can move a lot of stuff on Amazon.
The real world model that Ebay was spawned from. Not all flea markets are created equal, some are just plain crap while others can offer a great opportunity to get in front of potential customers. Every town has some sort of weekly marketplace or farmers market, check your local government to find out about available opportunities.
The good side is that renting a stand at one of these markets is pretty inexpensive. The downside is that someone has to man the table, which is usually over the course of a weekend. If you can keep your costs down, selling at a flea market can be a great boost in revenue.
I have a friend who sells water purification systems strictly on Craigslist, he generates over 200,000 in revenue a year from this free online classified site. Talk about building a business on the cheap! People assume Craigslist or Kijiji (a popular Canadian version of Craigslist) is for buying and selling used stuff. This is true, but there are also thousands of sales made every day by retailers selling goods and services in this online marketplace.
It's a great place to list products and services for free, the downside is that you are limited in where and how many times you can post an ad at any given time. Also, depending on your brand strategy, selling this way may not bring you the brand recognition you're looking for.
Your own Ecommerce Store
Starting your own Ecommerce store can expose you to a whole new audience and expand your reach in a way your physical store could never do. Ecommerce is one of those things that can be really hard to get right, but if you do, it's totally awesome. I recently wrote an article on getting started with Ecommerce, you can check it out here.
The upside to starting your own online store is that it's your own online real estate which you own and operate, much like your physical store. Opening an online store is liking opening a second location without the overhead and headaches of a physical location, though it comes with it's own challenges. Dealing with the technical aspects of a more complicated website like an Ecommerce store can be a challenge, as well as trying to sell something virtually, without a great salesperson present to close the deal.
Open up a Popup Store
A Popup Store, made popular in dense urban cities like NYC and Tokyo, is when you open a temporary store in an vacant location or even inside another store for a short period of time to take advantage of busy foot traffic and buzz around that location. Typically you will make a short term lease commitment, anywhere from 1 day to 3 months and try and make the most of this short term selling opportunity.
Some of the reasons you would open a Popup Store would be when launching a new business, taking advantage of a prime location in an area your business doesn't serve, or piggybacking off of a popular business by opening up a “store within a store”. Lots of great ideas for this concept.
The upside is you can make a quick “hit and run”, taking advantage of a short term opportunity without any long term commitments. The downside is that it's temporary and people may forget about you once you are gone, so be sure to let them know about other ways they can buy from you.
Get out of your store and start selling
So here are 6 ways you can get your products out of your store and into your customers hands. I personally like the online opportunities better as you're not chained to one location for any period of time, but all are great options if you're willing to put in the work.
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