Where to Sell Products: Online, Markets and Retail

Deciding where to sell your products can be a tricky process. Options include selling at community markets, online via Etsy or Facebook, or inside retail shops. Where to sell will depend on your personality, skills, budget and the time you have available. With so many options, choosing the right outlet can have a huge effect on the success of your business. Because of this, it’s important to thoroughly research each market before making a decision. It’s also important to remember that you can sell your products more than one way!
 

Selling Online

One of the most popular selling options is via the internet. Selling products online is a great way to reach a large customer base beyond the local community. It can also be cost effective, because you don’t need to invest in items such as display shelving or a booth. When selling online, the two most popular options for those just starting out are Etsy and Ebay. If you have business page on Facebook, there are also apps and plugins to create a page that customers can shop from.

Both Etsy and Ebay allow the user to create an online shop, which features different pages for each product. These product pages include photos of the product and information including ingredients and pricing. This format allows the customer to learn information regarding each product easily and quickly. When selling in person, it can be difficult to present as much information in such an organized way.

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The down side to selling products online is that customers are not able to touch, feel and smell the merchandise. Because customers can not see the product in person, it’s important to have quality, clear images that really pop. If you’re looking for tips on how to photograph your products, check out this blog post.

Another factor to consider with selling merchandise online is product needs to be packaged and shipped. For some consumers, shipping costs make or break a sale. With the popularity of free shipping from large companies, many customers will not purchase items unless shipping is free or extremely cheap. Since there is really no such thing as “free” shipping you must consider how you will cover the costs of shipping. Most businesses increase the price of the product to cover the expense of shipping and packaging.

For more information regarding selling merchandise online and  social media tips, check out the blog posts below! Remember, a lot of the social media tips are helpful even if you choose to not sell your items online.

Pros: Opportunity to sell beyond the local community, ease of use for customers, social media means free advertising, no physical display costs (booths, shelving, etc).
Cons: Customers not able to see products in person before purchasing, must factor in packaging costs and shipping prices, building relationships with customers can become more difficult.
 

Selling at  a Market or Craft Fair

Craft fairs and farmers markets are a great way to sell products to the local community. Being able to talk to customers in person is invaluable; questions and concerns can be answered on the spot and personal connections can be made. Many consumers find products made locally to be more valuable, and meeting the person who made the amazing handmade beauty product also enhances the value. Not to mention, selling in person gives the opportunity to talk up your products!  Customers are also able to feel the product in hand, and possibly sample the product.

   The Daily Scrub’s  eye catching craft fair display. Selling at a craft fair or farmers market allows customers to touch and smell product.

The Daily Scrub’s eye catching craft fair display. Selling at a craft fair or farmers market allows customers to touch and smell product.

In addition to connecting with customers, selling at a market or fair presents the opportunity to meet other small business owners. Building relationships with small businesses in your area is incredibly valuable. Doing so is a great way to learn from others and find new marketing opportunities. Small business owners are passionate about local business, and are often each other’s biggest support system.

While selling directly to the customer in person has many benefits, it’s not for everybody. If talking to a lot of strangers sounds overwhelming, selling online or in a retail store may be a better option. Time is also a crucial factor; selling products at a craft fair is an all day commitment. Between setting up the booth, selling the products and taking down the booth, craft fairs and farmers markets take a lot of time! If you do not have the time to commit to a fair or market, it may not be an option.

Pros: Customers able to touch and feel products before purchasing, building connectionswith customers becomes easier, no shipping costs, build relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and local businesses.
Cons: Requires display items (shelving, labels, etc), can be intimidating/stressful for introverts, requires a lot of time (preparation, setting up booth, selling, taking down booth), unable to reach customers beyond local community.
 

Selling in Retail Shops

For some, selling products in a retail space is a possibility. This may be in a retail space of your own, or selling products inside an already established store. Selling products in a retail space of your own usually requires an established customer base to thrive. Many soapers who open a retail space start with selling at fairs or online to find and keep loyal customers. A great example of this is Josie of Josie’s Beauty Boutique. To read more about Josie’s selling experience, click here. For businesses who are not yet ready to open their own space, selling products inside an established retail space is a fantastic option.

  Inside Kensico Soap Bar’s beautiful store. Read the interview with  Kensico Soap Bar here.

Inside Kensico Soap Bar’s beautiful store. Read the interview with Kensico Soap Bar here.

When identifying possible retail spaces to sell your products, it’s important to first do your research. Find a store that has a similar aesthetic to your products. Doing so ensures the customers who already enjoy the items inside the store will also be attracted to your merchandise. Next, find out more about the company. Some questions to ask: How long have they been open? Do they have multiple locations? Do they already sell similar items?  What is their social media and advertising presence like? It’s important to consider factors that will help your products sell (loyal customers, multiple locations, strong social media presence), but it’s also important to consider how your products will help the store. Remember, this selling situation is a partnership.

Once you have identified a store that you want to work with, it’s time to approach them for the sale. Learn more about this process in the Writing an Introduction Letter to Buyers: Ask for the Sale blog post. Selling your products in an established retail store means they are doing half the work for you – advertising, selling, displaying, etc. On the flip side, you may not have as much control on where and how your products are merchandised. The salesperson in the store may not be educated about your products, and may not be able to speak to their amazing qualities.

One of the major cons of selling in a retail space is that this format requires wholesale pricing, which is typically 50% of retail pricing. When starting out, many crafters forget to factor in all of the costs of doing business and price their products too low. You may not be able to afford a 50% discount when you are first starting out, but cutting your costs and making your process as efficient as possible is always a good thing to strive for to reach that price point.

Pros: Less time spent selling means you have more time to make products, tap into already established customer base.
Cons: Wholesale pricing, give up control of merchandising, not able to represent your product yourself.

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If you own a soapy business, how do you sell your items? I would love to hear about your selling experiences, and why you sell the way you do!