Setting up an online business is now perhaps one of the easiest ways to achieve the dream of being your own boss. Opportunities in this sector are plentiful nowadays thanks to advances in technology and greater consumer confidence in the security of online shopping. It also has the added benefit of being a fairly low-risk venture due to the fact that it doesn’t require the same amount of financial investment as a traditional business.
Do you think you might have a product which would nicely fill a gap in the market? Maybe you’re fed up of the poor customer service you’re receiving from suppliers and think you could do a better job? Whatever the inspiration, there really has never been a better time to set up an online business from home. We’ll show you how with this guide to the key steps to creating your own ecommerce business:
- Researching your market and competition is just as important in online business as it is for a physical business, though it is thankfully a little easier to carry out. Information on similar products to yours is at your fingertips;all it takes is a little searching online to help you find your price point and check out delivery and other customer service options offered by your competitors. If you’re still not convinced whether your business idea is viable, you can give it a test drive by becoming an eBay or Amazon Marketplace Seller in order to gain some confidence and experience.
- Once you’re ready to venture out alone, you’ll want to set up a website of your own. It’s surprisingly easy to do as there are many open source systems available which you don’t have to be a technical genius to use. Ready-made themes and a wide variety of plug-ins make it possible to create a site with its own unique identity, customised to your needs.
- You’ll need to choose a shopping cart and you can find lots of useful information to help you here. You’ll also need to get a merchant account from a bank in order to handle payments made through your online system.
- With your product and the means to sell it all in place, you need to sort out your distribution channels. Don’t imagine that you need vast storage facilities for your products – did you know that most ecommerce businesses never even touch the goods they supply? Several options are available including having the goods despatched direct from the manufacturers. However, most businesses chose to outsource to a 3rd party fulfilment company as it’s very flexible and cost effective. This allows them to get all the benefits of a large company with the latest technology without having to hire their own staff or make any other financial investment. Orders are professionally packed and delivered promptly and additional staff can be quickly drafted in during peak periods, all of which helps maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
- Getting a registered address is a small but very worthwhile move. You don’t really want to publish your home address, and a registered address looks far more professional and trustworthy.
- Finally a word about marketing. Clearly you need potential customers to be able to find you easily, so you need to make sure that your website is SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly. SEO is a whole technical discipline in its own right which it would be impossible to cover fully here but original, informative content based around popular search terms is at its core. If you don’t feel confident tackling this yourself, you can engage a professional in the field for a reasonable price.
With these building blocks and a pinch of determination and enthusiasm, you could be starting a very successful new chapter in your life. Working for yourself will both motivate and reward you, so why not give it a shot? You’ve very little to lose and everything to gain.
Photo Credit: Flickr/IvanWalsh.com