Selling Stuff Online: Products

SellingShizOnlineLast week, we talked about some basics you needed to be ready to sell things online. The next few weeks is the fun part: what you actually sell!

The most normal thing to sell is physical products. Physical products being things that have dimensions, weight, and possibly variables for people to select from (sizes, colors, etc.)

Selecting a shopping cart software: part science, part art. 

We’ll get into selling other types of things next week but you don’t need me to tell you that buying a seat in a stadium for the next Britney Spears concert you are going to is different than buying a black t-shirt. So different cart software is built to sell different kinds of things. You may also want to ask yourself these questions as you start your research to find a cart you like:

1) What integration does my cart need to have? If your cart needs to interact with your POS system or Quickbooks, that’s a good way to cross off a lot of options up front. Note the word ‘need’ here, you may be smitten by some swoonworthy features but knowing what you need will keep your eyes on the prize.

2) What payment gateway do you want to use? Some software only works with one or two gateways, some work with lots more. If you don’t have passionate views on payment gateways like some of us do, enter into this research knowing you’ll be flexible.

3) What are you planning on selling? And how many? See concert tickets versus black t-shirt example above. Also some cart software charges you by the quantity of items you list. So get a clear idea of what you want to sell first to help you evaluate options.

Once you have your cart softwares narrowed down to two or three options, start reading online reviews and looking at examples of each. This will give you an idea of customer support and whether you like the way it looks. For example if a cart promises to be ‘responsive’ and looking at the 4-5 examples listed on the website none of them seem mobile friendly, you may want to ask yourself why. Or you could just hire some nerd to do this nerdy research project for you. Seriously, there is a reason I can’t find a fun picture to go along with this.

Care about the little things.

The more information you give to customers, the better. Things like dimensions and weight not only help them figure out how that item will look in their living room but help you figure out how much to charge for shipping. When possible, fill out all available fields for each item in your cart software… and be consistent product to product.

Decide on shipping.

The below chart shows why you need to decide about shipping:


You have a few options when it comes to shipping: free, calculated, or flat rate. Rather than saying the same thing this article says, I’ll link to a nice blog post from Shopify about the differences between these three. 

In short, we’ve seen free shipping is quite motivating for a lot of people… and most consumers understand the idea of the minimum order amount to get it:


Cross-selling and Upselling: Helping People Buy More

So now you have what you’re going to sell, a cart you’re going to sell if from, and some idea of how you’ll handle shipping.

Now it seems a little sad we’re already thinking of how we can get your customer to spend MORE money with you but why wouldn’t we be? Your favorite brands cross-sell and upsell to you all the time.

Cross-selling: If you like X product, you may also like Y, Z, and A products. Or customers who bought X also bought… you get the idea. Many cart softwares will let you cross sell.

Up-selling: Getting someone to buy a higher priced version of what they were going to buy.

This is the best visual example for this I have ever seen. And the blog it comes from is super useful and you can go read it:



Luring Them In With Bargains: The Allure of the Coupon Code

Now there may be points in the life of your online cart where you either need to move some inventory (to make way for new stuff) or you want to experiment with pricing. Coupon codes are something you can typically issue for either a dollar amount or percentage off either all the items in your cart or just certain items. For obvious reasons, they typically have an expiration date.

What coupon codes allow you to do is measure if/how purchases change while it is in effect. Most cart software will let you make them.

Then you distribute the codes (or perhaps different codes) via direct mail, email, social media, print and online ads, etc. to get them to your customers.



So I hope that is helpful as you sell physical products in your online store! Next week, we’ll talk about selling event tickets and things you may want to think about related to that. Stay tuned.

Reason #674 Why Companies Need To Think About Moble: No One Has A Printer

Sometimes, I unexpectedly see something and it becomes a short term fact finding mission. It’s usually something I stumble on in the morning while perusing the internet.

The other day, while checking Facebook and drinking my mug of warm water in my pajamas, I saw this go by on my newsfeed:


Now instead of thinking ‘Oh how nice of them to offer a sale on something that hardly ever goes on sale like produce’ I thought ‘Ugh, they’re gonna make me PRINT it?’ which I learned upon clicking through.

(Yeah I’m a jerk.)

I watched the comments and most people were properly grateful. A couple people asked about mobile friendly coupons and several people complained about having difficulty printing out the coupons (it required a compatible printer and browser).

I did this. I had to download some coupon driver to be able to print this out and it was kind of annoying. I did this at work because I don’t have a home printer, and I think few people do anymore with the advent of a lot of modern technology.

Even though I thought no one had printers at home, I thought I’d make this an experiment and have some data to back myself up or prove myself wrong. I asked my Facebook friends if they had a printer at home or at work or both. Here were the results of those who responded:

8 people have home based printers that were wonky/not reliable.
28 people had printers at work they didn’t seem to be adverse to using in a general way.
3 people went out of their way to say their work computer was not used for any personal purposes in their comments.
23 people who have home based printers have home offices they work remotely from or are self employed.
15 people have home based printers for seemingly personal use only.
Most everyone had multiple printers at work. (One of my Facebook friends has more printers than he does employees- ha!)

Now I got 60 people who responded… and if we took out the self employed people only 15 people had printers at home. 25% of my non self employed friends friends have printers (I believe a majority of the population isn’t).

So what am I trying to say?

If you are going to do something nice as a business, don’t require your customer to have a printer. Many of them don’t have a home printer; are restricted to personal printer use at work; or have a printer at home that is not reliable or probably out of ink.

A QR code or bar code can be stored into a smartphone and scanned on site as easy as anything. Of course this will require training of staff with how to accept these coupons but as the population using mobile phones continues to increase, it’s something we have to take into consideration as business owners and people who strive to be paperless.

This post is in no way picking on Hannaford; I am just using this as an example of how a good idea can be made better and more accessible. Because if you have a great idea, it might as well be both those things.