Thinking about starting an eCommerce store? Whether you’re an already established business or a sole proprietor looking to sell some home made products, eCommerce takes a lot of work and planning. People don’t realize there has to be a very well developed plan if you are looking to start your own online store. Of course there are websites and selling platforms that help make it just a little less painful. If you want to take the route and not have to do as much marketing and promotion, than using a selling platform like Amazon, EBay or Etsy might be for you. Of course all of those platforms charge fees and often make it difficult to compete with prices, especially if you’re a small business. If you’re a large corporation then you may not even need to sell on these platforms, but with Amazon being the largest online retailer in the United States, it would be silly NOT to jump on the bandwagon and utilize that platform.
If you’re starting a new business and are thinking long term, then selling on your own website is the way to go. There are also many websites that can assist you and save money on web hosting and developing fees, like Shopify or Big Commerce, which are the most popular eCommerce platforms out there and they both have a lot of tools and apps to help maximize business and assist you in your success. It all depends on what you’re going for, the easy option isn’t always your best option so don’t commit until you have weighed out the options first!
Here are some tips for starting out:
1. Write down Goals
You know you want to sell online but before you start you need to figure out the three W’s. To start off with an idea you have to establish if it is even a good one. Asking yourself these questions will help get the ball rolling.
In this order, make a list:
What: What do you want to sell? What is your niche market? Sporting goods, Beauty products, Kids Toys or something entirely unique?
Who: Who would buy this? Who can you target this product to? Would women buy it? Who is the woman? Is she young or is she middle aged?
Why: Why would they buy it? Do they need it? Is it something that is in demand? Does it appeal to a large scale of people? Is it something you’re passionate about as well?
Also, figure out how far you want to take this eCommerce business. Do you already have a warehouse? Will you eventually want to rent space? Will you be doing drop shipping
2. Research, Research and more Research
Research everything; different selling platforms, different development options, different applications, different inventory software and different wholesalers. You need to make sure your Online Store functions properly so you don’t run into a plethora of problems when you start.
Make sure you budget out the expenses it will cost to start and establish. Are you hiring a web designer or developer? Do you need to fill your inventory? Work out the costs, put it all in a spreadsheet and find out how much in expenses will your project accumulate.
Organize your inventory with Spreadsheets, Software or whatever makes life easier! Research different things that can help you organize! Make sure you set up a system as well. When you receive an order it will be emailed here, then I will be notified here, then this person will notified to process shipping, and etc.
5. Get the legal stuff out of the way.
If you plan on starting an eCommerce business, you have to check out the legal aspects of it. If you plan on making an actual living on this project then you must try and seek legal counsel and advice. It all comes back to research. If you are the only person involved with the company than you might be able to opt out and just file as a sole proprietor. Find out online tax law, do you have to register within every state? I am not a lawyer and won’t give any legal advice but all states have different laws, so ask a lawyer or contact Legal Zoom and they can help you figure out what you need. This is absolutely important before you go and sell things online, the last thing you want on your hands is a lawsuit or the IRS on your tail.
6. Start Building!
So you have everything else lined up now it’s time to start building everything. You need to start off looking professional and trustworthy as a business. In order to do so, I highly recommend getting a logo created with your company name or your name. You can also get your logo trademarked at Legal Zoom if you’d like. Sub list of major things you need to start building your eCommerce site.
- Company name
- Web Layout (Make sure it’s RESPONSIVE!)
- Inventory Descriptions
- Product Pictures
- SEO, Keywords, Tags
- Marketing Campaign
Pay attention to your customers, their feedback and every concern and complaint they have. Especially when you are trying to establish and build a reputation. The internet has given everyday people the power to make or break you via online reviews!
Yes it is a lot of work, and even more work as your online store progresses further. You have to keep up with promotions, marketing, competitors, social media accounts, customer service and shipping. It will be a lot of work, but it will be yours and if you go about it correctly, you will be grateful you took the leap. Contact Callahan & Toolen Digital Services if you want to get started!