How to Start Your Own eStore
If you are drawn towards starting your own business and are considering setting up a retail store, a physical storefront can be expensive. There will be rent and utilities to pay, an inventory to sort out, employees to organize and many other expenses you have to consider. No wonder then, that many would-be store owners are deciding to open their business online. With an e-commerce store, the world is your client base, and it costs a fraction of a physical store. It’s possible to start an online retail business with a very small budget. Here is a guide to help you with the process.
If you like the idea of starting an online business, there are a wide range of options which you can consider. You could choose an online boutique, selling wedding attire or sports gear. If you’re a creative kind of person, why not think about opening an Etsy store? On Etsy, you can sell your homemade items, which is ideal if you are a talented jewelry maker or artist. Using Etsy means you have a ready-made site, which is easy to access and use, along with technical support for Etsy if you need it. Whatever you decide to do, there are some steps you’ll need to follow:
- Write a Business Plan
This step applies to anyone wanting to start a business. Your business plan acts as a roadmap and framework for keeping your business on track. Think about financing, marketing and advertising, income and expenditure, and don’t forget to plan for the filing of your tax return. Paying taxes are a vital part of running any business, and you need to make sure you do it right. If you’re a little unsure, seek help from a company. Regardless of your line of business, paying taxes is something you don’t want to forget about until the last minute. Set aside an amount on a monthly basis so you can cover your tax bill when it arrives. Your business plan will form the basis of everything you do from the very start, including how to seek investment, what you are going to do with the investment, and how you intend of repaying it. For example, you may choose to seek investment via an online loan from Bonsai Finance. In your business plan, you will need to identify what you are going to use the money for and also prepare a realistic repayment schedule.
- What are You Going to Sell?
Your products should be outlined in your business plan, but in this step, you need to think about them in more detail. If you’ve decided you want to sell sportswear you now need to consider the colors, sizes, styles, and numbers. Perhaps you want to sell wedding attire. Therefore, you will need to consider whether you are going to sell everything someone needs for a wedding, both wedding party and guests, or whether you are going to be more niche. If you are planning a niche clothing store, you then need to think about how your items are going to be manufactured or whether you’re going to buy the items ready-made. Perhaps you already have a manufacturer in mind. If you don’t, you’ll need to find a supplier and figure out transportation. Finding a supplier may be a time-consuming and challenging task, and don’t forget to negotiate the cost if you can. You may have to approach a variety of suppliers before you find the perfect one, and you will also need to take into account any surplus costs, such as delivery costs for both you and the customer.
- Start Off Small
In the beginning, it is better to start with a small inventory, rather than be left with mountains of stock you have to store and then can’t sell. While you may believe you can sell every item of stock you have, you need to be realistic when you first begin and ensure you don’t overbuy if you don’t know for sure people will buy it. As you will be a new store, it will take time to build up a client list, and it won’t be an overnight success. Plus, if you sell niche items, your target audience will be much smaller, meaning you will need a much smaller amount of stock ready to purchase. You also need to take into account any storage you have for your items. If your storage space is limited, you should look for a supplier that will store items for you and then ship them out as the orders come rolling in. This method is known as ‘Drop Shipping,’ where the manufacturer ships the stock directly to the customer, rather than sending it to your warehouse and you delivering it yourself. It can help save costs, and it also frees up your storage space.
- Create an Online Presence
This is vital for any business, but more so if you’re planning to sell online. First choose a hosting provider, then a domain name, before setting up your website. If you’re new to creating a website, don’t despair as there is a wealth of helpful advice online. You also have the option of using the services of a professional. You will also need to build an online fanbase and following on social media platforms. Which social media platform you choose should reflect what you are selling. If you are selling your own artwork, for example, choose Instagram to showcase your work in the best possible way. Twitter is the best platform to engage with customers in a witty, funny way, especially with the character limit. Many businesses have gained cult followers due to their responses on Twitter, so this is one place to really make your mark.
Launching your business is the easy part, after which the going gets tough again as you work hard at maintaining your business. Managing the inventory, making important decisions, providing customer support and marketing your company all need to be squashed into your working day. You’ll go to bed tired, but on the plus side, you’ll also enjoy a sense of achievement.