E-Commerce: Is Your Product Ready to Compete Digitally?

The ever-changing online marketplace can be a boon to startups. Not only are more consumers buying online all over the world, e-commerce marketplaces also aim to offer consumers a wide product selection, creating an opportunity for startups to provide the unique variety of must-have items across multiple categories.

If you can harness its power, e-commerce can help your product leap geographic boundaries and open up a whole new world of sales opportunities.

Here are four questions to help you gauge your product’s readiness for the digital age. 

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Have I identified my products the right way?

Consider the UPC, or Universal Product Code, your passport to new sales territory. Ensure that the UPCs assigned to your products are authentic and include a GS1 Company Prefix, so that your brand is linked with your products. This specifically constructed UPC is also referred to as a Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN. It uniquely identifies a product in the global supply chain—use that number to create a UPC barcode and include the same number in your online listing. By identifying your company and its products this way, you can avoid the unnecessary cost of relabeling (since some retailers will reject product that is not labeled according to standard specifications) and increase sales success.

Additionally, companies working with retailers and online marketplaces need a different UPC for each product they sell, and product variations require unique UPCs to distinguish one variation from another, such as different varieties of tea. Each barcode can be printed and attached to a product, or incorporated into the product’s package design. Make sure you have proper placement, sizing and quality printing to help your product sail through the checkout process. There are a variety of solution providers out there that help small businesses with barcode and package printing.

Related: The Benefits of UPC Barcodes for Your Small Business

Can my product be discovered online?

With retailers rethinking the in-store experience and consolidating their physical locations across the country, e-commerce provides an abundance of sales opportunities.

Recent research from BigCommerce revealed that 51 percent of Americans prefer online shopping, with e-commerce growing 23 percent year-over-year.

Help consumers cut through the clutter to find your product, whether they are shopping on Google, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, or a multitude of other online marketplaces or retailer websites. With proper product identification, the right product can surface in search engine results and enable its sale anywhere, anytime. The same GTIN numbers in a barcode are also used online, ensuring consistency between the digital and physical shelf, making it easier for your products to be found in web searches.

On e-commerce platforms, if you want your product to be searchable, applying random or proprietary numbers won’t work—your products need to be globally, uniquely identified according to the retailer’s requirements or it may be hidden from search results. 

Related: StartupNation Graphic Design Business Services

Are my images doing the product justice?

Time to hang up your entrepreneurial hat for a minute and think like a consumer. Would you buy a product that does not accurately represent the color, size, or texture of a product? Without the ability to see the product for themselves, consumers rely heavily on imagery as part of their e-commerce experience, especially while shopping on a mobile device.

A recent study from Nielsen found that the majority of mobile shoppers (62 percent) rated the ability to see product pictures as the most important factor in their shopping decisions.

Professional photos of your product taken at different angles can be the difference between outstanding reviews and increased sales, or complaints about having to return your product.

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Am I providing complete product details?

Beyond the visual representation of the product, think about all the other key selling points a consumer would need to know about it—emphasis on “all.” Today’s consumer is concerned with much more than traditional considerations of price and overall quality. Driving a movement of information transparency, shoppers want to know the complete makeup of the product, where it came from, how it was produced and whether or not it matches with their lifestyles, dietary choices, and/or moral values.

By providing complete product details such as ingredients, sourcing information and environmental impact, startups can appeal to the widest audience and reassure the consumer that they are dealing with a reputable company. Launching a product with detailed product attributes (dishwasher safe, made from recycled materials, for example) can be a great point of differentiation and help sell your product versus the competition.

Ultimately, when the time comes to officially make your product visible to your target audience, you want to leave nothing to chance. Although product launches have their learning curves, you can be ready to compete online by understanding business best practices, retailer requirements and evolving to address consumer behaviors.

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