Your Product Suitable for the Net?
Copyright 2003, Angela Wu
You've probably been subjected to the many hyped-up claims about
how easy it is to make money on the internet. Simply grab a product,
put a photo of it on a web page, and thousands of eager customers
will flock to your site, credit card in hand!
Obviously it's not that easy. The internet is a wonderful tool
-- but just like in the 'real world', some types of products sell
better than others. Consider the following:
Is there a more convenient alternative?
Products that aren't easily available at a local store have a better
chance of selling online. Not only is it often more convenient to
simply drop in and pick up whatever you need, you aren't hit with
additional shipping or handling charges (which can be significant
when shipping heavy products).
Pet food is an example: my household of pets dictates that I'm
often running out the door to pick up more food. At one point I
investigated ordering it online -- imagine, door-to-door delivery!
-- but in the end, I decided against it: not only would I have to
wait for it to be shipped to me, but the shipping costs were nearly
as much as the food itself!
Is your product something a customer needs to feel or see before
making a purchase?
A simple example is a wedding dress: most women want to try it
on, walk around in it, and simply see how they look and feel in
the dress before they make a purchase.
That's not to say that you won't be able to sell something that
the customers generally prefer to see or feel; if your marketing
is good enough, you might actually make a great
many sales. However, customers that discover that your product doesn't
fit or didn't meet their expectations are likely to drive up the
return rate -- which means less profit and more hassle for you.
Are customers normally cautious about buying your type of product
or service, even offline?
Many people are still naturally hesitant to purchase anything online.
So if you're selling something that they normally hesitate to buy
in the real world, then your challenges are compounded.
For instance, some people don't think the services of a financial
planner are necessary -- they might only make an appointment with
one due to persuasion on the part of family or friends. They discuss
their situation with the financial planner and make a decision about
whether or not they feel they can work together.
Now imagine if a financial planner sets up shop online. He claims
that he's wildly successful, and offers to help manage your money
over the phone or by email. Most would probably hesitate to take
him up on the offer -- without actually meeting him, viewing
his office, etc. it's harder to gauge his honesty or credibility.
Is there a market for your product, at the price at which you
intend to sell it?
This is what it all boils down to. There must be sufficient demand
for your product at a price that allows you to earn a reasonable
profit after all expenses are paid.
Be aware, too, that some audiences just don't tend to use the internet
much -- or they use it sparingly. For example, you will have a hard
time if you target a bunch of retired folks who are terrified of
technology, or low-income families who may not have access to a
Obviously nothing can guarantee the success of a business. However,
careful thought and research can help you to build a thriving online
About the Author
Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical guide
to building an Internet business on a shoestring budget. If you're
tired of hype and just want solid, down-to-earth information, then
visit us now -- and in moments you can have access to loads of instantly
useable tips, specifically chosen for beginners! http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html