How to grow your business online: A checklist from the experts

If you’re a business owner, there has never been a better time to sell your product or service online. But learning how to start an online business can feel overwhelming — customer expectations are high, competition is fierce, and the landscape is constantly evolving.

So how do you get started? How do you break through the noise so customers can find you? And how do you get them to come back? Here are our top tips on how to grow your business online, from picking the right tools to scaling your social media efforts.

Tips to grow your business online

While there are countless ways to grow your business, many of them typically share a common strategy: Determine where your target audience spends their time online, then meet them there.

Are they avid TikTok users who look to influencers for product recommendations? Or do they love scouring for hidden gems on Etsy themselves? Having these answers can allow you to explore different ways to grab their attention, engage them, encourage them to check out, and hopefully, return for more.

Identify where your audience is

Understanding your audience is the first step to identifying the right online marketplace or social media channel for your business.

Ask yourself:

  • Where does my target shop online?
  • Do they typically begin their search for new products on this channel or somewhere else?
  • Are similar products being sold on this platform?
  • Are my competitors on this platform?

We’ve created a checklist to help you stay organized as you evaluate different online marketplaces and social media channels against your business needs – download it here.

Online marketplaces and social media features

From Amazon to eBay to Instagram, there are dozens of channels to sell on – and more likely than not, your target customers are browsing, clicking, and purchasing on multiple marketplaces or social media platforms.

While not impossible, it can be challenging for growing businesses to maintain an active presence on all these channels while providing stellar customer service and fulfilling orders quickly.

So, how do you decide which channels you should prioritize? One approach is to review all the features and tools provided by different online marketplaces or social media channels, then evaluate which can best help you meet your goals.

Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • Does the channel offer features that your customers want (e.g., free shipping, quality guarantee on purchase, popular payment options)?
  • Does it have the features you need (e.g., easy setup)?
  • Does it integrate well with other sales channels (e.g., inventory syncing capabilities)?
  • What payment methods does it accept (e.g., PayPal, credit card, etc.)?
  • Does it offer social media features for promoting your products (e.g., built-in sharing options, sponsored posts, product tagging)?

Benefits and costs involved

Beyond features, you’ll also want to ensure that your chosen online marketplace or social media platform can help you meet your business’s financial goals. After all, everyone wants to have a presence on popular shopping destinations, but nobody wants to go in the red.

So, take a moment to research the benefits and costs associated with different channels:

  • Does the setup process for this online marketplace or social media channel seem cumbersome or overly time intensive?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals for the platform?
  • Do you have the resources available to make this a success?
  • What is the cost of marketing your business on social media for this channel?

Learn more about how to start selling on online marketplaces.

Market consideration

By now, you’ve probably compiled a shortlist of potential channels. If you’re feeling stuck, try considering some of the online marketplaces popular in your region:

  • United States: Amazon, eBay, Instagram, Etsy, Wish, Facebook Marketplace
  • Canada: Amazon, Kijiji, eBay, Newegg
  • France: Leboncoin, Rakuten, eBay, La Redoute
  • Germany: OTTO, Check24, Amazon, Zalando, Idealo
  • United Kingdom: Not on The High Street, Depop, Gumtree, Instagram

Check out this guide on how to start internationally online.


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