Working from home has become one of the most popular ways to generate extra income, and the possibility exists to make a full-time living from the comfort of your own home. Working from home and starting an e-commerce site or store is one of the most popular options today, but getting one up and running isn’t always that easy.
An e-commerce business, which simply put is a business that delivers goods, services, and funds across the internet, and they can be anything from large retail outlets like Amazon to the smaller and more personalized shops such as Etsy. Online shopping has seen huge growth over the last several years. The numbers of people making purchases online have been growing steadily and are expected to continue growing into the foreseeable future.
Starting an e-commerce business may be the right way to go before considering a brick and mortar style approach, depending on the kind of business you are in.
The key to a successful e-commerce business is building trust with your customers, simply because those people are not able to see or interact with you in person and they tend to be a little skeptical. But, there is good news here, with things such as blogs and social media, it is fairly easy to build that trust. Give them an opportunity to have an inside look at you and your business, and they will eventually want to support you and your business.
Here Are Some Things You Will Need To Do When Starting An Ecommerce Site
- Choose a business name and have it registered.
- Find yourself a domain name and website, having a great company name isn’t worth much without a great website name to go with it.
- Obtaining permits and licenses, operating online doesn’t mean businesses are exempt from needing sales tax or a home business license, depending on the state or country you are in.
- Selecting a business structure such as partnership, sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation.
- Obtaining an employer identification number, needed even if there are no employees.
- At this point, a brick and mortar business can go ahead and look for real estate or commercial space, but an e-commerce business owner needs to start working on their online presence.
Keep It Simple
Start off with small in mind and keep things as simple as possible. Start a blog and write about and promote things you have a passion for or are knowledgeable about. Don’t overwhelm yourself or potential buyers with too much too fast, let people have the opportunity to get to know you and what you are selling. Refine the process of selling and shipping before moving on to larger-scale selling and more usable platforms.
Shopify is one of those platforms that are popular today, there are three other popular platforms to choose from and they are, WooCommerce, Squarespace Commerce, and Magento. These services are perfect for creating online stores and facilitating purchases. Shopify and Magento work well as WordPress plugins, and Squarespace allows you to create a new site from scratch.
Simple and easy to use, Shopify offers four pricing plans starting from $9/month and going up to Unlimited at $179/month.
Magento does require a certain amount of technical know-how but does come with the Free Community Edition. Magento is a bit pricey starting at $1,999/month.
The WooCommerce plugin is free to download and has free themes to use, additional premium themes start at $39. There are additional extensions that are free, and go all the way up to $249. Some technical know-how is required.
Squarespace Commerce comes with two e-commerce levels, Basic at $30/month, or Advanced at $80/month, and NO technical know-how required.
You Will Need To Spend A Little Money When Starting An E-commerce Site
Spending as little money as possible is normal, we all do it but, when choosing a platform on which to build your e-commerce site some additional costs are just unavoidable, and some are worth the extra investment. Shopify and other services might charge you extra if you want your customers to pay with a credit card. Usually, these fees can be between 1 – 5%. Things like merchant fees, some additional apps if you want more functionality, such as an auto-ship feature or up-sell pop-ups will cost extra.
You will also have to consider some costs outside of your shop such as hosting for your site or blog, or email marketing services. Having a blog with content that is related to what you are selling is a great way to drive traffic your e-commerce site, along with the ability to increase SEO ( search engine optimization ) ranking of both and make your brand stand out among all the rest.
Another consideration might be in form of some customer relationship tools such as phone, email or customer support chat services. These will help to retain existing customers and convert new ones into paying customers.
Share Like Crazy! That’s The Key
Having a blog before you open an e-commerce store is highly recommended, it can really help jump start your business. You can easily build a list of followers who trust you and what you are doing, and the first time you offer a product or service, your list of trustworthy followers will be there ready to buy.
The same can be said for social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchap, and Twitter. This kind of marketing is free and can be used to slowly drip information and build excitement about upcoming product reveals or launches.
Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket – Cover Every Corner Of The Market
Small business owners that have their own sites should consider selling on third party platforms such as Amazon, or other large outlets, by doing this you are simply covering every corner of the market.
There are many benefits to selling through larger outlets, such as being able to test whether or not your product will be as popular as you were expecting it to be, lower costs for shipping if you choose to use Fulfillment by Amazon, and a built-in trust factor that often makes it easier for customers to make purchases through Amazon. However, some people are still cautious when it comes to shopping online, but tend to trust that an Amazon vetted seller will deal with their purchase in a timely and professional manner.
Operating and maintaining your own store and vision is vital to building an e-commerce store, but don’t pass up the opportunity to use larger platforms to help evaluate sales, and move your business forward.
There are many positive aspects to starting an e-commerce store compared to a brick and mortar one.
The initial start-up costs are much lower, it can be as high-end or as low-key as you want, and online stores have the added bonus of being able to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for customers all over the country, or planet for that matter if you are willing to ship that far. And if you need to expand your business, it’s much easier and a lot less costly.
There are several important steps to keep in mind, and investments to make if you want your business to become a successful one. Always treat your e-commerce business like any other business, be compliant with all tax laws, obtain necessary permits, invest in customer communication and retention, and pay particular attention to making all platforms mobile friendly. A large percentage of sales now come from mobile devices, you will have an automatic advantage over competitors who don’t pay attention to the mobile community.