In days gone by, the only way to open a store was to rent premises, fill it with stock, and hope that customers walked through the door. These days, it is a lot easier. Anyone can open an online store and start selling products. You don’t even need any stock. Dropshipping lets you pay for the item once the customer has paid you, which is good for cash flow. So what do you need to know in order to open an online store?
Learn How E-Commerce Works
If you don’t have a clue how e-commerce works, start doing some research. There is lots of information online, so read up on how it works. The more knowledgeable you are, the easier it will be to figure out whether e-commerce is right for you. It might also be helpful to talk to other people who are currently running e-commerce websites. Pick their brains and learn from their experiences. Online forums are a useful place to chat informally to people in this regard.
Choose the Right Platform
It is a good idea to start small in the early days. Say, for example, you want to start selling women’s’ shoes. An easy way to do this would be to invest in a small amount of stock and list your products on eBay. This will help you gauge the level of interest in what you have to offer. If you deduce there is a market for your stock and the profit margins are good, it is worth opening an online store on a platform such as Shopify. However, check Bluehost reviews and those of other platforms before you make a final decision, as fees vary.
Find Your Niche
Selling online is not as easy as many people think. There are many niches where the marketplace is saturated with sellers, so unless you have a unique selling point, you will find it hard to attract customers. It is important to find the right niche. If you are not sure whether a niche is right for you, check out potential competitors and see what prices they charge for their products. Contact suppliers and do the math. If you cannot make a profit based on the figures you have, it is time to reconsider that niche.
Payment Solutions for Online Stores
Unless you plan to give away your stock for free, you need to have some kind of payment solution in place. Online marketplaces such as eBay make it very easy because PayPal is built into the site architecture, but if you want to set up your own online store, you need to look at payment solutions.
Sales and Marketing
Global marketplaces such as eBay deliver customers straight to your store, but if you decide to go it alone, you will need to start marketing your business. Social media, online advertising, etc. are all worth considering, but whatever strategy you adopt, make sure you have a clear plan in place.
The great thing about online stores is that you can run them part-time to begin with, so why not give it a go.