7 Challenges To Consider When Selling Products Online

When someone new to owning their own business and selling products thinks about selling them online, it’s understandable that they would think it isn’t very different from selling things in person. You’re still selling a product to a customer, so how many differences could there really be? This way of thinking can cause a lot of newer small businesses to run into trouble when they’re just trying to get off the ground.

In reality, selling products online offers quite a few unique challenges compared to selling them face-to-face. While none of these challenges pose a massive threat to your business, not taking them into consideration puts you and your business at a huge disadvantage that may be hard to crawl back from.

We’ll go over some of the common challenges to consider when selling products online and what you can do to protect yourself from falling into the same traps that previous companies have fallen into. By the end of this article, you should feel much more confident about putting your products up for sale online and dealing with any unexpected changes along the way.

Choosing a Marketplace or Platform

Before you can even start selling things online, you’ll need to decide where exactly on the Internet you want those products. For many small businesses, you can find a lot of success just by posting them to your own website using platforms such as Shopify or Salesforce. While there are benefits and downsides to each of these platforms, they do make it easier to get started selling products online as soon as possible.

If you’re going for a larger audience, you will likely want to put products up for sale on marketplaces like Amazon. The number of potential customers is certainly far greater, but so is the competition. No matter platform or marketplace you want to use, you’ll need to get UPC barcodes for each unique product that you want to sell before they can actually be sold anywhere. BuyABarcode.com makes this step a cinch, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Standing Out From the Crowd

Placing products for sale online means opening yourself up to more competition than you might already be used to. If you have a great product, you’re already in a good place, but you will still need to convince potential customers to choose your company over the plethora of competitors.

Focusing on good communication with customers, offering affordable or free shipping, and using loyalty programs for return customers are all good methods you can leverage to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Without a defining feature that makes you different from the competition, customers don’t have any incentive to choose you when someone else can provide a better experience.

Converting Visitors to Customers

One challenge to consider when selling products online that almost everyone deals with is how to turn someone who is just visiting your site or product page into an actual paying customer. Customers are hardly starved for choices when it comes to most products, so it’s normal for them to bounce around to similar products by different companies. A product page with high traffic but low turnover is a common issue.

Understanding your customers on a deeper level and knowing what they’re actually looking for from your product, can help you out here. Once you understand the major issues they want to solve or what features are most important to them, you can highlight those things on your product page to catch their attention and get them to buy.

Utilizing SEO Practices

The majority of online purchases begin with a query on a search engine. Thankfully, you don’t have to understand a search engine’s algorithm perfectly in order to take advantage of it and use it to great effect. These SEO tips can put your company higher up in the search results where people tend to click more:

  • Understand your keywords and include them on your product page. 
  • Avoid stuffing your page full of keywords, as this could look suspicious to a search engine.
  • Work on clear and consistent page titles, sub-headers, meta descriptions, and image tags.
  • Use backlinks on other sites to increase your domain authority.
  • Ensure your website is extremely mobile-friendly. Most online sales are done via mobile devices.

Providing a Clean Shopping Experience

The experience of shopping at your online store is just as important as the experience of shopping in a physical one. If the process takes a long time, wastes the customer’s time with things they don’t want, or is too convoluted, they will just go somewhere else that doesn’t waste their time.

Streamlining the checkout process and making it easy to fill a cart and pay for it goes a long way toward getting someone to actually buy something. Don’t inundate a customer with unnecessary advertisements, promotions, or requests to put them on mailing lists unless it’s absolutely critical.

Communicating With Customers

Customer communication in an online shopping scenario will always be a little trickier than an in-person one because you can’t get a read on the customer’s attitude or feelings at that moment. Maybe they have questions about your product that wouldn’t take a long time to answer, but you don’t get to them quickly enough, so they leave.

Having multiple channels available to communicate with customers, solve their problems, and answer their questions is the best way to make them feel valued. Never underestimate the impact that one bad communication experience could have; you could possibly lose a customer forever.

Dealing With Returns and Refunds

It’s never fun to hear that a customer is unsatisfied and wants to return a product or get a refund. In the online shopping world, it can be even more of a hassle. Given how easy it is to lodge complaints and demand refunds online, they can be very common occurrences for online retailers.

It’s incredibly important to have your company’s return and refund policy clearly stated somewhere that is very visible, so nothing gets wrongly assumed or misinterpreted. Work on processing returns and refunds quickly, or your reputation may degrade faster than you might think.

BuyABarcode.com wants to make sure you have everything you need to get started selling products online sooner rather than later. You can quickly get UPC barcodes for your products right here, giving you one less thing to worry about and one less challenge to overcome as you start your online retail journey.


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– Erik Quisling

Erik Quisling is the Founder and CEO of Buyabarcode.com. Started in 1999, Buyabarcode.com has been featured in both The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and has helped more than 100,000 businesses bring their products to market with barcodes.
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