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Selling items online has become not just a trend but a lucrative opportunity. Whether you want to declutter your home, start a side hustle, or expand your business, selling online allows you to reach potential customers globally. 

That being said, it can be tough knowing where to get started. So we’ve put together an expert guide to get you ready to start selling items online like a pro. 

Your expert guide to selling items online

Understanding the online marketplace

There are so many different platforms available that cater to all types of sellers and products. From giants like Amazon and eBay to niche platforms focusing on handmade crafts or vintage items, each offers unique advantages depending on what you're selling. 

Researching and understanding these platforms is crucial to determining where your products resonate best with potential buyers. Choosing the wrong platform really can derail your E-commerce plans before they’ve even started. 

Tax implications and guidelines for eBay sellers

Choosing the right platform to sell items online

Regardless of which platform you use, you need to think of it as your shop front. It’ll be the first thing a customer sees when they encounter you, so you need to pick wisely. 

Factors to consider when picking:
  1. Target audience:

Go where your potential customers are more likely to be. For example, Etsy appeals to consumers who value craftsmanship, creativity and supporting independent sellers. Whereas Amazon attracts a much broader audience who are typically focusing on affordability and fast delivery. 

  1. Product type

Some platforms are also better suited to specific types of products. If you’re looking to sell handmade items online then Etsy will be your best friend. Alternatively, if you’re looking to resell secondhand items, then you’ll be better off with eBay. 

  1. Fees and policies

After all, there’s no point in looking to sell items online if you aren’t able to make a profit. Before you get started and buy in stock, make sure you understand the fees associated with your platform. Things to look out for are listing fees, transaction fees, and any other policies that could potentially plunder your profits. 

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How to choose the right items to sell online

Not all items are created equally when you factor in their suitability for online sales. Here are a few considerations to make sure you pick the perfect products:

  • Market demand

Before you buy, make sure you research trending products and pinpoint niche markets. Making sure there is high demand and low supply will help set your

E-commerce business up for success. Tools like Google Trends, social media insights, and platform analytics can provide valuable data.

  • Profitability

After all, there’s no point in selling things online if there’s no profit in it. When calculating profit margins, make sure you’re factoring things like sourcing costs, delivery fees, platform fees, and any potential discounts or promotions that are available.

It’s best to look for products with a healthy profit margin to ensure your efforts will be financially rewarded. 

  • Your expertise and passion

You’re far more likely to succeed at selling items online if it’s a labour of love. This enthusiasm can translate into more effective marketing and customer engagement. 

Knowing a lot about the products you sell and the industry you’re in can also help increase your credibility with customers. 

  • Seasonality and trends

Consider seasonal products or items tied to current trends. Doing this can help you capitalise on peak demand periods. It’s important to stay informed about industry trends and consumer preferences to stay ahead of your competition.  

Thinking of trying dropshipping? Check out our top 10 dropshipping suppliers

Setting up Your online storefront

Now that you’ve picked the perfect product and platform, it’s time to set up your online storefront. Whether you’re utilising online marketplaces or going solo with your very own website, you need to make sure it’s appealing.

Tips to polish your storefront for a professional look

  1. Use high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and competitive pricing to entice customers to buy your items.
  2. Always optimise for search engines! Whether you’re looking to get found easier on Google, or hoping to get picked first on Amazon you need to make sure you’re using relevant keywords to improve your visibility. Think of things like “best red boots for sale”, “cheap red boots” and “Women’s red boots”.
  3. Always build trust wherever you can. Put in effort to get reviews and showcase them. Other things you can do to instil confidence in potential customers are clearly listing any return policies and having contact details readily available. 

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Managing inventory of your products

So you’ve got a professional storefront and you’ve picked the perfect product, now what? Somewhere that many E-commerce businesses fall short is effective inventory management. It’s an area that can quickly become a concern when trying to manage customer satisfaction.

How to manage your inventory properly

You need to make sure you’re keeping on top of your stock levels to avoid overselling. To do this you could look at using a specially created platform or simply set up an Excel spreadsheet. 

Things to include are:
  • Product information (name, description, product codes),
  • Inventory levels,
  • Lead times and minimum quantities for reordering,
  • Pricing and cost information, 
  • Supplier informations,

Always make sure that your inventory sheet is up to date and that it’s updated whenever you sell items online. Doing this can make sure that you avoid potential problems and build a positive reputation. 

Pricing strategies for selling products online

You don’t want to cut off your profit but you also don’t want to put potential customers off. It can be a balancing act between profitability and competitiveness. 

Always do thorough research on similar products online to make sure your prices are competitive. But make sure any prices you do end up picking include things like the cost of material, any labour involved, platform fees, and delivery costs. 

It’s also worth noting that using promotions strategically can help you sell more items online. Especially during peak shopping seasons. So it’s worth factoring in a little cushion to enable you to offer discounts when needed. 

Check out our ultimate guide for pricing products and services online

How to market your E-commerce business

It doesn’t matter how perfect your products are or how professional your storefront is if nobody can find them! Here are a few marketing tips to sell your items online. 

  1. You need to go where your customers are and let’s be honest, we all spend far too much time on our phones. The average daily time we spend on social media is nearly 2 and a half hours, so make sure you’re showcasing your products there!
  1. Always invest in building up an email list that you can market to. This way you can notify customers of new products, send out special offers, and even remind them to finish buying what’s in their basket!
  1. If you’re looking to sell items online using a website, you need to make sure it’s optimised for search engines. Key things to consider are using relevant search terms and making sure your site is mobile-friendly. 
  1. Investing in paid ads can help you get sales quickly. The options and costs available will depend on whether you’re using your own website or selling on marketplaces.

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Do I need to register with HMRC if I sell items online?

If you earn more than £1,000 from selling online, then you’ll need to register and file a self assessment. 

Worried about being HMRC compliant and managing your taxes efficiently? Then get in touch! Let us do the numbers, while you live life. 

Get started

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Vicki Nichols
Marketing communications & content executive
Updated on
June 28, 2024

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