Here’s 10 easy ways to start selling online. While this year has been an uphill struggle for many business owners and employees there is still light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t have to be difficult to get your business up and running online and it certainly does not have to cost you excessive amounts. 

As consumer trends are rapidly changing due to the pandemic and we settle into ‘the next new normal’ we are seeing a real shift in buying habits moving purchases online. Local business owner Sarah-Jane Vincent strongly believes that this crisis will change the way buyers shop in the future and now is the time to embrace that change. Irish consumers want to support locals but with more than 70% of local businesses operating without an option to buy online it presents a real challenge and we are seeing many local shops close their doors for the last time. It’s more important now than ever before to make sure your business offers an online shopping experience to its customers. 

Christmas shopping this year has begun at the earliest time recorded and it is likely that the majority of purchases will be sought online towards the end of 2020. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching now is a good time to forecast demand and shift to online to ensure you’re ready to handle a larger number of orders. 

Even if you plan to open an online store as a temporary measure, consider making it a permanent part of your strategy. The implications of Covid-19 on consumerism will likely be one of the defining moments of 2020, and that may well last into the decade. Your customers are trying to adapt to strange times, and do want to support you, and as a business owner, you are facing much of the same uncertainty. In an effort to help you to continue to serve them as best you can, Sarah-Jane has included a list of some of the quickest and easiest ways to help you start selling online and maintain connecting with your customers. 

1. Add a Facebook and Instagram Shop 

As many businesses are creating and strengthening their digital presence, Facebook is creating new tools to help make online shopping seamless. In an effort to help small businesses they are heavily investing in new features across their apps to inspire people to shop and make buying and selling online easier. Facebook Shops is a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses can easily create an online store on Facebook and Instagram for free. If you have a Facebook business page and sell physical items, you can add a Facebook Page shop. This option is suitable for businesses selling clothing, accessories, home furnishings, artwork, children’s products and more.  It’s easier than ever to set up a shop and stay connected with your community and let them support your business. You can find out more about Facebook for Business at http://www.facebook.com/business.

2. Local Business Support Communities

This year has certainly seen a notable shift in online groups and local business support pages. More than ever, people are using Facebook to participate in their local communities. Page and group admins are actively encouraging local businesses to share their product or service offerings in order to support in and around the local areas. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen an immense amount of support provided to local businesses in various local communities online with a majority being free or heavily subsidised. If you have a product or service offering and would like to take part in the various local Facebook communities you can find local support pages by typing in the name of your county or town. Each group will have their own set of rules so just make sure to take a look before you start posting. 

3. Free Promotional Opportunities

There are many free advertising opportunities available at the moment which can be availed of. We have seen so much support from our local radio stations, publications, influencers and more. Contact your local radio stations and publications to see how you can take part. You may also find useful information on their website. Ryan Tubbarty from RTE has recently announced a special edition Late Late Show on the 6th of November where they will feature businesses. If you’d like to get involved, you can email them directly at latalateextra@rte.ie including your name and business information. 

4. Trading Online Voucher Scheme

The Local Enterprise Office currently has a number of grants and supports available to support businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. They have a dedicated COVID-19 Business Support section on their website with a list of all available resources. If you are a small business with under 10 employees and want to get online the Trading Online Voucher Scheme is ideal. There is up to €2,500 available through the LEO with co-funding of 10% from the business. The voucher can be used for developing a new or upgrading an existing e-commerce website, adding online payments or booking systems, developing an app, advertising online or subscribing to a retail platform solution. Find out more about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and other available supports at http://www.localenterprise.ie/response.

5. All-in-One eCommerce Stores 

If you want to take full control over your website or eCommerce store there are several all-in-one solutions available. There are many advantages of choosing this option for setting up an online store and this is suitable for both physical and digital goods or services. Shopify is one of the main all-in-one eCommerce platforms that is subscription-based. Shopify is easy to use and comes with professional looking premade templates that allow you to add text, images and products or services fast. It offers everything you need to sell online successfully including website hosting, email marketing, online store security, upsells, fulfilment, inventory management, customer support and much more. However, if you prefer hands-off then stick with your local web developer who can take care of this site for you. 

6. Google My Business

As people rely more heavily on Google to find answers, Google is becoming a big part of how users discover products or services in their area. If you’re not using Google My Business already you should be. This free and easy-to-use tool helps businesses manage their online presence across Google. If you are a business owner it’s important to enhance your online visibility and getting found first in a search should be a priority. GMB is the business information that appears on the right-hand side when someone searches for your business on Google. Your GMB listing gives potential customers easy access to your opening times, phone number, website and directions, gift vouchers, products and services with the click of a button – all at no cost to you. You can find out more about Google My Business at http://www.google.com/business.

7. Sell Gift Vouchers

Offering gift cards to your customers provides many opportunities to grow your sales. If you are not already selling gift vouchers now is the perfect time to start. As most retail shops have been forced to close their doors, offering gift cards will help bring in that much-needed revenue boost whilst also allowing local people to support your business. Not only is gift-giving a year-round activity, it will also help you to grow your reach within the buying public. This year, in particular, gift vouchers will be more popular than ever. Contact your local printer who will be able to help you design professional gift vouchers just in time for the festive season. 

8. Digitise Your Services

Service providers now have more opportunities for taking their services online. It’s now easier to host online consultations using cloud-based conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet. Automate and schedule meetings using Calendly or Acuity. Build online courses and host classes online using technology software such as Kajabi, Teachable or Podia. There are so many ways to leverage online communications and there hasn’t been a better time to start. 

9. Online Payment Options 

Getting payment for goods and services does not have to be difficult. There are several payment options available for businesses including PayPal, Stripe and Freshbooks. There are simple mobile banking options such as Revolut and N26. You can also use a mobile credit card machine such as SumUp to start accepting payments anytime, anywhere through an iPhone, iPad or Android device.  

Above all make sure you are finding ways to sell your products and services online.

Let me know if you found this post helpful. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out my FREE Resources!

ALL my best, 

– Sarah Jane 

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only recommend the products that I love and have used myself.