Selling online and other ways to expand your business

Lots of small businesses are shifting their business online to diversify their revenue or to adjust to the way customers want to buy. Maybe you already have a part of your business online and you’re thinking about launching a new idea. Whether you are thinking of delivering a new product or service to market or simply looking to reach new customers with your existing business selling online could be a real opportunity to reach customers and lock them in for life.

If you are wanting to grow and are thinking about starting an online business or finding new ways of selling, here are four trends for you to consider.

1. The growth of online marketplaces

A business no longer needs its own channel to market. The growth of third-party marketplaces like Amazon (who sell almost everything) or specialist sites like Etsy (selling mainly art and homewares) allow you (as an independent seller) to list goods or services which they promote to their database of customers. Yes, they may take a fee, but the benefits may include low set up costs, easy product listings, access to their customers and payment processes set up for you.

Investigate where your industry is actively selling and decide if it’s worth trying this as a channel to reach new customers to complement how you sell.

2. The use of subscription models

Paying a monthly fee is increasingly embedded into our way of buying, where we’re willing to commit to recurring payments in exchange for continually updated products or services. Netflix, Disney, Apple are good media examples. It’s increasingly common for apps to use the same model.

But you don’t need to be a tech company. Professional services (such as accountants and consultants) and consumables (food and beverage are good examples) have started to charge customers a monthly fee in return for regular work or delivery.

What can you sell or provide where customers pay you monthly?

3. Adopting the new way of selling

Building an online store or ecommerce component of your business doesn’t mean you have to invent something new. It could be the way you sell. It wasn’t very long ago when meeting face-to-face and talking to someone or mail order, were the only ways to make a purchase. The internet and online banking have changed the playing field. Other ways of selling now include:

  1. Drop shipping where another business holds the inventory and ships to your customer

  2. Affiliates receive commission for recommending other businesses products

  3. Brokers connecting buyers and sellers like real estate agents

  4. On-demand delivery only after the product has been ordered such as printing and books

  5. Resource sharing like Uber and Airbnb using the public to rent their asset to end users.

This list isn’t exhaustive, new ideas will come along all the time, but what is trending in your industry that you could take advantage of?

4. The power of freemium

Some of the largest companies in the world (such as social media and search) have business models which offer the core product for users at no cost, who then post, blog, discuss, share and participate. The traffic generated is monetized, usually from online advertising.

Online media and gaming sites also use this model to provide a certain amount of gaming/information for free, with upgrade options to purchase inside the product.

You too may be able to deliver parts of your business for free while creating alternate revenue streams, though your ‘giveaway’ doesn’t need to be product. It could be valuable content, information or services as a lead generating opportunity.

If you do implement a new way to sell, make sure the business model is profitable and can stand alone if needed.

Check new ideas for feasibility

There are many ways you can introduce new online services, products or channels to your business and you can choose more than one if it’s targeting new customers. If you do implement a new way to sell, make sure the business model is profitable and can stand alone if needed. Ask your customers, research what’s happening in similar industries and try to create a unique value proposition.

If you do move to selling more online, here at TD we have a range of online and mobile payment options to make it easier to pay and accept funds online.

Next steps

  1. One of the great things about running an online business is the flexibility it provides where you don’t have to choose just one to make money. Participate in social media to identify how your customers prefer to buy from you and stay informed about the best new business apps and what is relevant in your industry. Finally, as you look to grow your online sales consider the use of search engine optimization and search engine marketing to drive online leads.

If you want to talk about your business banking needs, feel free to contact your TD Account Manager or find an account manager near you.

Find a regional TD Merchant Solutions business development specialist.

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