In our tech-driven world, eCommerce continues to remain among the best pathways to success for entrepreneurs. Each year, more consumers are searching for, comparing, and purchasing products via the web. Not only is it more convenient to shop when you don’t have to leave your house, but you can shop on websites, online marketplaces, mobile apps, and even social media.
For entrepreneurs, eCommerce is also convenient. After all, you can run a viable business without ever leaving your home! Along with lower overhead and startup costs, you can effectively market your shop while staying within your budget. And eCommerce allows you to reach consumers from around the world, track their buying behaviors, and meet them where they are.
SociablWeb wants to help your business succeed. That’s why we’ve listed some fundamental steps every entrepreneur should take when opening an online store:
Choose a Niche
When starting a business, finding your niche is critical. Trying to cater to too wide of an audience can hinder you from getting a strong start and experiencing steady growth. The niche you choose will influence everything from sales figures to customer retention. Think about what price bracket you want your products to fall within, and make sure you will be making enough money for the work you put in. Also, conduct market research to see what niche could bring you success.
You also need to determine whether to dropship or hold physical inventory. Dropshipping has its benefits. It essentially means that you sell products from your store and facilitate direct shipments from the suppliers to the customers. Obviously, you save money and space without having to keep physical items in your home.
However, with dropshipping, you don’t have control of fulfillment. If a supplier makes a mistake, you will shoulder the blame. By managing fulfillment in-house, you can ensure that all orders are fulfilled and that returns are handled satisfactorily, both of which will keep your customers happy.
Set Up a Legal Structure
Establishing a sole proprietorship is the simplest and quickest way to run an eCommerce business legally. The problem is that it makes no separation between personal and business matters. To protect yourself from liability (and get a few tax breaks), consider setting up an LLC. Just be sure you understand state regulations before you start the process.
Build Your Store
There are two main types of eCommerce store platforms: off-the-shelf and custom. By using a custom platform to build your store, you can make it exactly as you want and load it up with as many features as you can handle. This makes it easier to build a unique store.
However, custom platforms are more expensive and typically require more effort to maintain. As a new eCommerce entrepreneur, consider using an off-the-shelf platform that comes ready-to-go. All you have to do is choose a template or theme, upload your products, and fill out your store’s informative pages (e.g., “About,” “Contact,” “Shipping and Returns,” etc.).
Market Your Shop
Marketing is a big deal when it comes to running an eCommerce store. Spend time creating a unique brand that you can market to consumers. Much of your brand will depend on developing a reputation, which will take time. But for starters, create a logo that stands out and tells consumers what your company is all about.
Also, use SociablWeb to research the various methods you can use for getting the word out about your business. Social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are all things you’ll want to consider. Figure out which marketing channels will most benefit you, and come up with a strategy.
Manage Your Growth
If all goes well, there will come a time when you’ll need to hire a staff to help you with tasks such as order fulfillment, customer service, and marketing. Once you start hiring team members, there are a few important considerations you’ll need to make. For example, you’ll need to set up a system that pays everyone regularly. Payroll for small business involves collecting W-4s from your employees, calculating and issuing their salaries, and reporting and withholding taxes. There are lots of great software options that can take care of all of these details, like QuickBooks. Similarly, you’ll need to decide on the benefits you want to offer your team, such as health insurance, overtime pay, and paid time off.
Starting an eCommerce store is ripe with opportunity in this day and age. If you choose to go this route, be sure to keep the tips above in mind. While you will learn a lot along the way, these fundamentals can help you get off to a solid start in online retail.