How To Start Selling Online

Selling online can be a big undertaking and there are a lot of details not disclosed to you by the YouTubers and Influencers that make it seem so easy online.

I've compiled a comprehensive list of things you need to know and do before getting started based on experience, failures, months of work, and absolute thousands of Rands.

Find Quality Products
The most common thing you'll hear is that you should be within a niche and stick to it. Easier said than done, as the saying goes because there are millions of products one could be selling. So here are a few key pointers to stick to when picking a product:

  • Pick a product with a large audience:
    For example, instead of Tick & Flea collars for dogs, sell Collar Trackers for Pets. This way you're not only limited to dog owners but all pet owners in general, immediately increasing your audience.

  • Pick in-demand products:
    In our above example, pet owners only sometimes need tick & flea collars but will always want a way to track the whereabouts of their pets. Therefore the Collar Tracker is a better product to focus marketing efforts on while cross-selling the tick & flea collar.

  • Quality matters:
    Don't just blindly sell a product. Order it first, test it out to ensure it is as stipulated by the supplier. For example, I wanted to dropship this pet GPS tracker, until I saw the quality of the product and the app they used.

  • Brand your product:
    Speak to your supplier and find out if they're able to print your logo onto the product and get a sample of it. Check the quality of the print to ensure it's good and doesn't just rub off.

  • Shipping times:
    This is probably the biggest factor for me when I'm looking for products to dropship or sell, i.e., where is the supplier based, which couriers are they using, etc. If the shipping takes more than 15 days, it's not worth it. If you're selling locally, you have many more options.


Get A Professional Online Shop
Many believe they can sell on social media alone, but the reality is you need an online shop for credibility. A customer will google you if they're interested, but it's more that they won't order at all if they're not redirected to a well designed and optimized product page. This page should offer additional information and secure checkout when clicking on your post. Here are a few things you need to know before buying an online shop:

  • Get a scalable domain name:
    Don't tie yourself into "" but instead go for something like "". This allows for scalability and opens doors for other products such as collars, leashes, brushes, toys, care products, cages, beds, etc. This small expense and oversight could end up rendering your e-commerce store completely purposeless once that pet tracking product is history. Another important note here is to keep the domain name as short as possible, 6-12 characters maximum and make sure it's related to what your online shop is about.

  • Shopify is not the only platform out there:
    There is a big misconception that to sell online, you need to open a Shopify store. What you're not told, it's one of the most expensive ways to get started because to be even remotely successful, you need to purchase a theme, plug-ins, get graphic design work done, etc.  Before you know it you're R10000-R15000 in, with R1000+ in monthly charges for the Shopify platform and plug-ins. Yet you have still not made a single sale or you've given up entirely because you simply don't have that capital available to you.

We use Prestashop. It's a dedicated platform for the sole purpose of selling which comes with tools and features to help you. For R169.99 p/m with no contract, we provide it with hosting, a professional theme, business emails, local support, TeamViewer training and assistance, and all you need to do is load your products. You get everything you need, for only R169.99 p/m, with no hidden costs which saves you at the current exchange rate, R280 per month on the platform alone.

  • Don't go too big, too soon:
    Focus on a single winning product in your store to collect that sales data for your Facebook Pixel. Once you've sold some products and you have active customers on your mailing list, you can let them know once a week that there is something else that might interest them. Don't spam or send them your entire catalog, list about three items a week in your email that are related to one another. That way your customers are more inclined to purchase them together.

  • Divide your mailing list into groups:
    Informing someone who purchased a dog collar that there is a new cat food bowl available will only result in getting your customers to unsubscribe from the mailing list.

  • Understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
    We love the YouTuber Neil Patel, he breaks it down very well and gives a lot of free, powerful advice. The websites which we provide are SEO optimized, and you get to add keywords on every single product you add to your online shop.

  • Use relevant payment methods:
    It is often stated that one needs to add as many payment methods as you can. We have found that adding a card checkout and an EFT option works great. For card checkout we use PayFast, it's easy to sign up and their transaction fees are low. Once payment is received through PayFast, the system will reflect that payment and automatically sends the customer a Paid Invoice Receipt. For EFT it will provide them with a reference which you will see on your statement and can then manually mark it as paid.

  • Provide parcel tracking:
    This is integrated with our system. It allows you to easily inform your clients about the status of their order. If you're with a courier company, we simply add their tracking system link for your customers to track their parcel.


Be active on Social Media
Social media is a convenient, inexpensive, and effective way to build social credibility and to get the word around about new offers, products, or services available on your website. There is a couple of things to know about how to build an effective social media presence.

  • Don't invite friends to like your page:
    When I started my social media page, I invited all of my friends to like us, not knowing how badly I was damaging our chances at effective future marketing. The reason why this is bad is that you want your page likes and followers to match your target audience. This means you won't have to run 10 different ad sets, each costing you a minimum of R50 a day, to effectively get the reach you're after. Avoiding this allows you to promote to those who have liked your page and are interested in what you're offering.

  • Social credibility comes first:
    Don't run hard sales ads on your new posts. Instead, optimize the new post ads for post and page likes. Once your post has hundreds or a few thousand likes, you're going to be selling much more when you promote that specific post. Your potential customers can then see that others have liked it, therefore it is a good product or a good offer.

  • Invest in your artwork:
    I cannot stress enough how important professional artwork for your social media page is. Don't post generic pictures as the profile picture or cover image. Instead, get your logo onto a clean background for the profile picture of the page which helps with brand recognition. Use the cover image space to promote any offers or discounts you're currently running. Make sure it is high quality and does not pixelate.

  • Effective product showcasing:
    To showcase your new hot product on social media, we recommend creating a short 5-second video. When customers scroll through their timeline, they can quickly tell what it is and what it does without the need to stop scrolling.

  • High-quality product pictures:
    It's vitally important to take high-quality pictures of your products. Invest in a lightbox as it makes an ordinary product look desirable and valuable. There are many DIY lightbox solutions that make all the difference while you're starting up and you can use these images for your online shop as well.


If you found any useful information in this article, kindly give it a Thumbs Up below.
There is a lot more information that will be added to this knowledgebase. If there's something else you'd like to know, ask us on our Live Chat. We'll gladly add it to the knowledgebase as soon as we can.

I removed the Marketing section from this post since it became too lengthy. Once I post those articles, you will be able to find those links here:
How To Run Instagram Story Ads


  • eCommerce, Online Shop, Drop Shipping, Selling Online
  • 1 Users Found This Useful
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