Existing customers are a known quantity
You should already have a customer base, and have a fair idea of how to gear your business operations to suit these customers. The customers who you will attract to your Web site will be very different.
To some extent your present customers are a known quantity. Depending on the nature of your business you may know your customers personally, or know the type of locality or socio-economic background they are drawn from.
More than likely they are drawn from a physical locality that is reasonably near to your business. At the very least you have some idea of where they come from, even if you supply products and services interstate.
Additionally, all the ways you interact with your present customers reveals some pertinent information about them to you. Their buying patterns have revealed your most popular items. You will know what is a staple product and what is more likely to be an impulse purchase.
If you think about it you may be able to analyse what will only sell if your customer can see, feel, touch, smell taste, etc, and what is so commonly know that the item can be chosen without any particular physical interaction.
Choose your online products carefully
To use an easy example, when considering basic household items, most people could happily buy their washing powder and other cleaning products from some remote source, whereas they are more likely to want to personally choose their fruit or vegetables, such as plums or beans or avocados!
The basic cleaning products are a known quantity, particularly if they are ordered by brand name, however, each person has a personal preference as to what they look for when purchasing perishable products.
Some people require value for money, and are more likely to go for a bulk pack, whilst others may wish to only choose the finest items and go for quality rather than quantity. Yet others may buy some items in quantity and select a few quality items.
Likewise, products that require a certain amount of imaginative and emotive interaction by the purchaser are unlikely to sell well online.
Dress fabrics are a good example. A fabric purchaser usually goes through a process of touching, weighing, comparing colours, and assessing how it hangs, before choosing the fabric that suits their purposes. They are highly unlikely to consider online fabric shopping.
However, this does not mean that all fabrics are unlikely to sell online. What is offered on the Web site must just be considered carefully. Bulk quantities of fabric may well sell successfully if the buyer has used, come across, or had samples of the fabric previously.
Bearing these examples in mind, therefore, a small supermarket might be able to offer an online ordering service, expecting to mainly sell staple products to their online customers, and perhaps suggesting that their customers buy in bulk. That way the customer can call into the supermarket to buy their perishable products, and take less time doing their grocery shopping.
Additionally if they have their staple products delivered in bulk, both you and they have to spend less on the delivery costs, and they have the bonus of not having to push heavy grocery trolleys around the store.
In the instance of the fabric store, they might find that their customers for individual dress lengths remain the same. They are the people who physically call into the store to select the fabric they need.
On the other hand, if they gear their Website correctly, they may well find that they gain a whole new customer base, which could even be world wide in scope, through provision of bulk quantities of fabric. They may be able to target makers of uniforms, soft furnishings, or craft shops.
The key to successful selling
The key to working out what you can successfully sell on your Web site is to do some of intensive market research.
This will consist of:
- Assessing your current customer base, and their current buying preferences
- Doing some online research to determine what else is being offered in your field
- Assessing whether they are successful in selling their products online
- Assessing your product range.