[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou may have been attracted to becoming an online entrepreneur by the prospect of having flexible working hours and the potential for an improved income, but running your own business requires you to spin plates – lots of plates. You need to have a robust plan in place to help turn your ideas into a reality, and to help you, here is a guide to starting your own e-commerce store.
What are you going to sell? Is it products or services that you are going to offer? Have you identified a gap in the market that you believe you can fill? You need to undertake comprehensive research to determine whether your ideas provide a viable opportunity for you, and you need to regularly review your findings to keep your business ahead of the game. You need to research:
You need to identify what your static monthly outgoings are going to be – will you have to rent a space to house your products, utility bills, staffing costs, transport costs, etc. Once you know how much money you need to make each month to break even, you will be able to have a greater understanding of the profit your products need to make.
You also need to have processes and procedures in place to ensure that your business data, especially the financial information of customers that you collect through transactions, is secure. Cybersecurity is one of the main concerns of online customers, and you need to address this from the outset. Click here to learn how a CASB (cloud access security broker) can benefit your business by ensuring that your customers can trust your business. Remember: customer confidence is critical to building a brand!
Choosing the products that you are going to sell can be the most challenging aspect of starting an e-commerce store. The world is your oyster – you have access to goods from around the globe, so how do you narrow down what is available to you to a list of products that you can sell? Don’t just think about the present time, think about the future too – you will be able to increase your product lines to cross-sell to your customers, so think carefully about your original stock.
Once you have identified which products you want to sell, create a spreadsheet that details the product against the costs incurred through their sale (for example, the packaging and the postage), the resale price and the profit you can make. Once your site is up and running, you’ll be able to log the number of visitors to each of the pages. This spreadsheet is a valuable tool – it will show you which products should be promoted, and which ones attract the most visitors – information that will help you with your SEO and marketing campaigns.
The joy of the internet is that you can get a thorough insight into how your competitors’ businesses are faring. You need to understand where their competitive edge is over your business and identify areas in which they appear to be failing. Read online reviews and set their standards as the benchmark you need to exceed – not just in the prices that you offer, but the customer care and delivery costs for example.
Starting an e-commerce store is exciting, but it is so much more than having a responsive and well-designed website. You want a site that represents your brand – trustworthy and dependable, yet agile enough to cope with future demands both product and security wise.