Is Distance Selling Right for Your Business?
If you are running a successful small business, it may have occurred to you to begin distance selling, by making your products or services available over the telephone or online. Distance selling can expand your business to a much wider audience, so it’s easy to identify the appeal. First of all you need to be sure to check you remain within the legal boundaries of distance selling, and that your business insurance covers this expansion of your services. After that there are some points you will need to consider before you make a final decision.
How will you reach your new audience? E-commerce is a rapidly growing field, and your website can be viewed by just about anyone in the world. You would need to invest in setting up an online shop, learn how to manage sales and e-mails, and advertise your site appropriately. You could also consider making your products available to order by catalogue, which will reach a smaller audience and will have associated printing and distribution costs, or you could simply advertise through existing media that customers can now place orders for your products by telephone, fax or e-mail.
Can you manage an increase in sales? Especially with online shops, you may find your orders increasing to an exciting new volume, which can be great for your business if you have the time and manpower to manage it. If your product is made to order, you will need to ensure you can still meet deadlines. If your product is – in whole or in part – from an external supplier, you will need to ensure your supplier can also meet your increased supply demands. To avoid disappointing your customers, you must have sufficient stock in place to meet all your orders, and this might mean finding new premises for extra storage requirements.
How will your orders be delivered? If offering a service, you may need to assess realistic geographical boundaries. If selling a physical product, you will need to consider how to deliver this product to your customers. Options include personal deliveries, which would require investing in a vehicle and suitable insurance, as well as remembering to cover fuel and time costs of making deliveries, or using an existing delivery or postal service. You will need to make sure your products are suitably packaged to avoid damage during transit, so you will probably need to purchase cardboard boxes or jiffy bags to safely pack and distribute your items.
Is it practical to distance sell your items? Remember, some items don’t travel well by post, and if a person can already access a product or service nearby then they are unlikely to pay more for the same product or service plus delivery or travel costs.
Charlotte Critchley is a UK-based blogger who writes on a wide-range of topics including business and finance. She is currently working on behalf of Rajapack who specialise in packaging supplies.