Monday, July 21, 2008

3 easy ways to botch your online sales

Some online sellers go through the year waiting for their peak sales period. If something goes wrong during this time it could do a lot of damage to their online business if not end it all together.

There are some lessons that others have learned over the years that can help an online seller avoid some costly mistakes. Not just during their times of peak sales, but all through the year.

On of the biggest problems that online sellers can have is processing payments.

Mistake No. 1: Not knowing your limits.

Think about what will happen if you get more purchases than you planed for. Do you have credit card processing in place? Do you have enough stock? Do you have enough shipping material? What are the limits of your business? Know these, and you will be able to avoid trouble before it starts.

How long does it take you to restock items? How long does it take you to get shipments out. What is the max. number of shipments you can do in a day, a week, a month. These are limits that you need to know.

And also consider what you will do when you reach these limits. How will you limit the damage to your business. Reaching any of these limits does not have to mean the end. It just may mean that you go to plan "B". That is if you have a plan "B".

So the first lesson is to know you limits and have a back up plan. Constantly your sells so that you understand how close to you limits you are. If there is a problem you will want to know about it early so that you can put plan "B" into action.

Mistake No. 2: Not watching the home front.

It is good to have a plan "B" but to know when plan "B" is needed you have to be able to detect when there is a problem. You need to have in place some type of early warning system.

The best way to sure you have a good early warning system is to consistently monitor what is going on with your business. I can not tell you how ofter to monitor your online sales. It may be enough to do a weekly report, or in many cases you will want to look at things daily. Probably what will work best is to have a series of checks, dailies, weekly, and monthly checks that let you know when problems are popping up.

Never thing that everything is OK, check to make sure that it is. Because you have not had any problems recently does not mean that there are not some lurking just out of sight.

Keep an eye on your personnel, your hardware, and software. If your online sells operations is large enough that you have people working for you then build in a system of checks and balances. Always have people check each other, one person does a task and another one goes behind them and checks it.

Maintain your hardware systems and make sure they are being used properly and that you are maintaining them. You don't want to have hardware problems when your sales are at their highest point.

Also make sure that your software is used properly and that it is maintained current. Don't let the lack of an upgrade or patch stop you from preforming some critical function at a critical time.

Have all service contracts for repairs and support that you need, when you need it. That way your hardware, software and the home front of your business will be monitored and repaired when needed.

Mistake No. 3: Not keeping tabs on your online selling sites.

You would probably surprised how may times a site goes down or there are problems with the site and the online seller does not recognize that there is a problem until it is too late.

In this time of great change in the online selling world it kind of goes with saying that you need to monitor you site. But what I am really talking about is the working of the site. The way listings are done, how feedback is given, what are the fees for listing items, these kind of things change all the time.

You have to know how your site is operating and if some of the changes are affecting your sales, the amount of traffic and other factors that determine how successful you are.

In the case where you sell on multiple selling sites this even more important. There are times when these type of changes can make it better for you to place inventory on one site and not the other. And know the changes the various sites are going through will help you make these kinds of decisions.

This also ties into the other two items, by monitoring how your site is working you are kind of keeping your eyes on the other concerns as well. Monitoring will also allow you to catch glitches and other unexpected problems.

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