(BPT) - Many small business owners are hopeful that offering their products online will increase their bottom line. But the digital marketplace is increasingly crowded and it can be hard to stand out from the pack. The good news is that being a small business can actually give you an edge over bigger brands - if you know how to use your size to your advantage. Here are the do's and don'ts you need to take your business to the next level:
Don't build your own online shopping platform. While you may believe that having your own website will attract new shoppers, website development and maintenance is expensive and time consuming. Unless your brand already has the visibility needed to attract consumers without advertising or marketing, traffic to the site will be hard to generate.
Don't expect your products to sell on a large online marketplace. While big online marketplaces, like Amazon or eBay, attract a high volume of online shoppers, unless customers are searching specifically for your brand or chance across your products via search, they will likely never see your products.
Do partner with a retail platform that can help you engage with your customers. OpenSky.com is a new and free social shopping marketplace dedicated to building the businesses of small merchants. OpenSky.com will provide you with your own customized online store, a new business toolkit including tips and support, and a built-in community of more than 2.5 million engaged social shoppers, enabling you to foster one-on-one connections and market your goods directly to them. Because they're already pre-disposed to shop, a follower of your brand on OpenSky is 27 times more likely to buy than a Facebook fan. These engaged followers lead to more sales with less cost to you. Best of all? It's incredibly easy. To begin, visit www.OpenSky.com/marketplace to learn more and join this fast-growing network of brands and customers.
Do market your products in a one-of-a-kind way. Create eye-catching content, making sure all your photos are high quality and shot in their best light.
Do establish yourself as an authority. Consider creating tips, recipes or behind-the-scene snippets. If your products are naturally-sourced, why not share photos from the beautiful hike that provided your inspiration for it? Sharing relevant and relatable content will keep your customers coming back.
Do use your size to your advantage. While big retailers are busy playing the price-cutting game, you can work smartly to connect with a community of loyal followers who really appreciate what you do. Harness the personal relationships you've made with customers through social platforms where you can strengthen connections by sharing product news, relevant content and personal reminders about new items you think they'll enjoy. Remember that what makes your small business special is your customers' opportunity to feel a personal connection with you, the entrepreneur and your passion - your product.
Do start now. While selling online may seem overwhelming, following these easy steps will help you make others fall in love with your brand.