Okie, so you are all geared up to the teeth to slaughter your way through the cyber marketplace and make your presence known to your competitors who’re already on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and all the latest mumbo-jumbos of the latest internet technologies. Even if you do not have the resources, you at least want to have a piece of the action all these online traders are getting.
Before you plunge yourself out from your current comfort zone, you wished someone would have told you what’s the single most important thing that you should do before you bare yourself naked on the online battlefield.
And here the one best tip I could give to anyone who never had any experience of selling with just using a keyboard and mouse- the easiest way to find whether you have what it takes to be an e-commerce entrepreneur is to start selling your products online right away, using whatever platform that is available to you. And I do mean RIGHT NOW!
Forget about setting up an online store with your own domain name, but it’s a good idea to have it registered already.
There are already many platforms available out there, ready for you to get your first online customers without you having to develop your own store. If you are looking to target oversea customers, eBay is the obvious channel, but there are of course many other platforms that might be more suitable for your products. If you are selling hand-made stuffs, Etsy.com is a good place to start.
If you are looking for customers within Malaysia, then you won’t go wrong starting your online selling career with Lelong.com.my. Or Mudah.my. And the list goes on.
The idea is to go where the traffic is, because traffic is something you can never build overnight. If you have to pay to be on these platform, do it. But please make sure you that the fees doesn’t cause your company to fold up in the event you don’t get any sales out of it. These platform usually only charge a minimal fee when you list a product and it only becomes painful when you actually sell something. But on the bright side, at least you sold something, and that’s a very good thing for a start.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying having your own online store with your own domain name is not important. In fact, it’s one of the most important sales channel that you need. But the time has not come for that yet. At this very moment, you need to experience the challenges an e-commerce entrepreneur would face and decide if you are willing to do it every day for the next couple of years.
So, go ahead and open up your stores by leveraging on existing platforms. Some platforms has a steep learning curve while some are a breeze to use. Some are customer-biased, while some are seller-biased. Every platform you use will teach you something about how consumers behave in the marketplace. For instance, if you list your products are Mudah.my, be prepared to be bombarded by phone calls asking for Cash On Deliveries (COD). I strongly discourage you to transact outside the computers, but if you are really desperate for sales, make sure you take all the safety pre-cautions- meet in a crowded place, and if you are selling something of high value, always bring a bodyguard along.
My take is that you should focus on these platforms for at least 6 months just to see if there’s a big enough market for your offerings. You will also learn how a typical transaction take place, from listing your product, shipping it to your customer and receiving a thumbs up for your good work.
It can be a very exciting period because you will be learning tonnes of new things, from logistics to product photography.