We’ve previously taken a look at How to Get Your Product into Retail Stores, but a question that’s popping up more and more for small business owners is how do I get my product into online stores?
Canadians are going online to make their purchases at an ever-increasing rate. In 2011, we shopped to the tune of $6.6 billion online. Jump to 2016, and that figure had tripled, weighing in at $19.2 billion in sales. Getting a new product on to store shelves has long been considered one of the cornerstones of a successful launch, but in a world where eCommerce is king, getting your product into online stores is the new gold standard.
What Is Your Product?
Before thinking of where you’ll place your product, you need to consider what kind of product it is.
First, there are commoditized products. These are the kind of items you can buy at Amazon, Best Buy, Canadian Tire, or Costco. Think clothing, electronics, food, or toys.
Then there are niche products. These are usually smaller batch, handmade products, that can be one-of-a-kind or made on demand. These usually consist of items like handmade jewelry, small batch cheese, or bespoke artworks.
Once you’ve identified what your product is, the next step is deciding how you’re going to sell it online? There are a couple of different ways to get your product in front of eyeballs, each with their own pros and cons.
Creating an Online Store
If you’re taking a new product to launch, you likely need to recoup some of your investment quickly. Starting your own eCommerce website under these conditions is a bad idea. The SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising and Content Marketing you’ll need to undertake to raise the profile of your store can take up to a year to pay dividends, leaving you with an immediate cashflow problem. A 2017 survey of over 1,000 small business owners found just 34 per cent were selling through their own eCommerce platform. Owning your own online store is an amazing addition to an already established online retail presence, but it’s hard to recommend as a starting point. In the beginning, it’s far better to partner with one of the many online marketplaces available.
Opening an Etsy Store is perfect if your product is artisanal, vintage, or niche in nature. Etsy takes a commission of 3.5% on each sale, and charges a flat fee of just $0.25 cents to list an item. Your product will remain active on the site for up to four months, or until it sells. Etsy is well known and respected by customers, with 60% of its sales coming from repeat purchasers.
In 2015, Best Buy signalled its intention to take on Amazon directly with the launch of “Best Buy Marketplace”, a new online strategy that opened their website to third-party vendors. Consumer electronics have long been the retail giant’s focus, but Marketplace has seen an expansion into fields such as baby products, luggage, furniture, and even jewelry. Best Buy’s website is one of Canada’s largest eCommerce platforms, boasting 18 million visits per month. It’s a powerful shop window in which to place your product. Vendors can apply to join Marketplace, with their application vetted by Best Buy’s Business Development team. It’s worth noting, you’ll be encouraged to supply bilingual content for your products, as over 20% of all transactions on the Best Buy Canada website are made through French.
Amazon is likely the first retailer that popped into your head when considering which online marketplace to use. It’s relatively easy to get set up, with different payment plans available depending on how many products you hope to sell. If you’ve opted for the cheaper payment plan, you’ll be charged $1.49 for each item sold, as well as incurring Amazon’s “referral fee”, which, in most cases, is 15%. There are over 75,000 new products added to Amazon each day, so you will face a lot of competition for sales, but with the retail giant’s popularity, there’s no bigger shop window for your products.
Dating all the way back to 1995, eBay is perhaps the longest running online marketplace out there. It started out as an online auctioneer, but in recent years has taken a more conventional slant through the proliferation of “Buy It Now” listings. Sellers will incur a charge of 10% of the total sale value for products sold through the platform. There’s also a listing fee of $0.30 per item. eBay is ideal if you plan to sell abroad because of its Global Shipping Program that keeps costs down by using the platform’s own logistics chain to ship goods.
Find Out More About Retail Distribution
Learn more about how to get your products into retail by attending Small Business BC’s Retail Success: How to Get Your Product into Stores seminars, presented by Gerry Spitzner of pharmacySOS.ca. In the seminar, you will learn the terminology, technology, and measurements that etailers use to evaluate products for their stores, how the logistics and supply chain system works, and how to use this knowledge to approach retailers with your products.