Deciding to sell online means making a lot of decisions: what do you want to sell? Where will you source it from? Who is going to do your accounting? And importantly, which sales channel will be most successful for your product?
When it comes to strategy for your brand, there are three major pillars to consider: Working Capital, Sourcing, and Selling. And just like a three-legged stool, all three need to be balanced in order for your brand to succeed.
- Working Capital – Your working capital fuels the growth of your business. The more cash you have on hand, the more flexibility you’ve got to make decisions for your brand.
- Sourcing – It’s important when running a business to find a reliably secure high quality product to sell. A reliable sourcing partner can make or break your brand’s success.
- Selling – Understanding your customer base is a crucial leg of your selling strategy. You’ll build a funnel to find customers and guide them through the purchasing process.
Balancing these three legs means that whatever risk you take in one area needs to compensated for in the others. If your cash acquisition strategy involves high interest rates, you’ll need to make sure you’re operating on a quick cash cycle to keep yourself from drowning in debt. If you’re manufacturing your own product, you’ll need to have enough cash on hand to cover your infrastructure expenses, as well as a flexible selling strategy that accommodates restrictions on your production volume.
In order to make sound decisions for your brand, like choosing which sales channels to focus on, you need to understand your product and what the funnel looks like for each of these legs.
How brandable is your product?
The line drawn between marketplace-based businesses and direct-to-consumer businesses comes down to this: how much does your customer care about the brand of products in your niche?
The more commoditized your product, the more you should lean into marketplace selling on a platform like Amazon, eBay, or Walmart. If you’re selling something whose features are fairly consistent across the board – say, a bottle of aspirin or a bag of 500 rubber bands – you’ve no need to build brand recognition and loyalty; your customers are just as likely to buy from you as they are from any other seller.
If your product is lifestyle specific, like camping gear or guitar accessories, D2C is the way to go – something like a Shopify site or possibly even traditional retail. Your customers care about the products you have on offer because the features of that product are unique to each brand, and your customers know that not every brand offers exactly what they’re looking for. These customers, once satisfied by your product, will likely continue to purchase from you forever.
That being said, there’s no right answer! Seller Accountant has seen wholesalers succeed with Shopify sites and lifestyle brands kill it on Amazon. The most important thing is to understand your product and expend your resources on your most profitable sales channels.
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