Have you ever thought about why you sell where you do? It seems like a simple question, but a lot of small business owners feel a bit of confusion or even defensiveness when you ask.
Of course you put thought into where you would sell your products or services; after all, it took a lot of hard work to get your business up and running! Do I think you flipped a coin to make your decision? On the contrary – deciding where to spend your energy selling is one of the most important aspects of having a successful business with longevity in its future.
Asking the Questions That Matter
Whether you have been in business for years or are just launching, there are two questions that deserve to have you diving deeper as a business owner: “Where should I sell?” and “Where shouldn’t I sell?” Both answers can save you so much wasted time and energy while getting more money in your pocket where it belongs. Finding the answers to these questions lies in what feels best for you and your customers. Think about brick-and-mortar locations, e-commerce, wholesale, consignment, trade shows, craft fairs, and other options that fall under the “where” category and see what feels best for you.
Know Where They Like to Shop
Spend as much time upfront doing customer discovery and market research to know who your customers really are (not who you want them to be). Are you selling a product meant for an older consumer in their retired years and utilizing Etsy and Instagram as your main sales platform? You’re going to miss out on reaching the majority of your target market. Are you selling beautiful hand-dyed beach cover-ups and selling strictly at in-person markets and events in North Carolina? Imagine how your sales could increase if you were online and accessible to markets that experience warmer weather year-round as opposed to only a few seasons?
Know Where You Like to Sell
At the end of the day, selling is all about relationships. (Alright, it’s about making money, too, but hear me out!) Through building connection and trust with your intended audience, those strangers quickly become customers and often repeat customers and referrals. We do this through showing up powerfully and authentically as often as we can. The “where” that you choose to sell has to support this. Consider your personality and ask yourself if you are more introverted or extroverted. Do you enjoy interacting with customers in person or behind a screen? Do you enjoy the creative side of merchandising a physical storefront or booth set up, or does that idea frighten you and feel uncomfortable? Know your strengths and play into them to get the best results.
Know Your Options – The Pros & Cons
The truth is that there is no right or wrong; it’s about what feels right and sets you up for the most success across multiple categories. Here is a quick rundown of some of the pros and cons for both in-person and online selling to help you consider your options.
Real-time customer feedback Unlimited customer reach across the world
Customers can touch product Detailed customer and traffic analytics
Personality can shine through Five-finger discounts need not apply
Networking opportunity Flexible work schedule
Visibility and foot traffic Retain customer information easily
Sense of community
Cost of mortgage/rent/vendor fees Shipping and packaging
Property taxes, utilities Less customer contact
Physical marketing collateral The need for reviews
Can be physically demanding More isolating and can get lonely
Heavily local revenue stream Up-front cost, time, online logistics
Possibility of theft Knowledge of technology/ photography skills
Location, location, location.
Remember that as a small business owner, you call the shots! Don’t get caught up in trying to be everywhere. Think carefully about where selling will feel best in your business for you and what you sell, and you can’t lose!