Choose Your E-Commerce Platform
Once you have determined what niche you will cater to, you need to figure out where you will host your online store.
Setting Up Your Own Website
If you decide to create your own website, you may need to hire a professional web designer who can build your site according to your specifications. The great thing about taking this route is that you can completely customize your site and really create a memorable brand, especially if you are producing your own items for sale.
Other perks that come with making your own e-commerce site include: no listing fees, having the ability to interact directly with your customers, and designing the entire user experience from start to finish.
However, if you take this route, you will need to choose a domain name and spend the money on its purchase and registration, and you will need to pay a fee annually in order to maintain ownership of that domain.
On top of that, you need to find a hosting plan that will keep your site up and running at all times. The right web host will ensure you have enough space and speed available for consistently fast load times and the smooth operation of your online store. There are many different web hosting providers available, and they all offer varying packages, so you will have to figure out which host is the most reliable, secure, and affordable for your particular needs.
Overall, setting up your own online store is a much more time-consuming and expensive process when compared to selling on marketplaces. Additionally, you will be responsible for driving traffic to your site, which means you will also need to have a strong marketing plan in place. On top of that, you’ll be on the hook for the logistics of packing and shipping. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re up to it, it allows you to retain more control over your business and more of your profits.
Use an Established Online Marketplace
There are already a few global online marketplaces that you can choose from if you want to become an online business owner. These include Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, and they already have millions of shoppers from around the world who purchase products from a wide array of categories every day.
Opting to start your online business on an established marketplace will make the process a lot faster and easier. You can simply read through the instructions to get your seller account up and running in a matter of minutes. Then you can write your product listings, post your product images, and let the online marketplace do the work of making your products show up in relevant search results, especially when you optimize your listings.
If you want to generate even more traffic to your storefront on an established e-commerce platform, you may want to implement other marketing strategies, such as pay-per-click ads, email marketing, and social media marketing.
The problem with using an online marketplace is that you are inhibited in terms of how creative you can be with your shop and your brand. There is also a ton of competition that you will have to worry about overcoming, especially when it comes to how you price your products. And because you will only be interacting with your customers minimally, if at all, you won’t always have the chance to get people on your mailing list, learn more about their needs, and entice them to make repeat purchases from your shop.
When you use an online marketplace, you will need to share your profits with the platform that you’re using. You may need to pay listing fees or subscription fees, and you might be limited on the number of products that you can list each month. But the upside of marketplaces like Amazon is the simplification of your logistics through programs like FBA. FBA can be a great way to test your market strategy and expand to international markets. Don’t forget that starting your online business is an iterative process; you’ll adapt and grow as you learn over time. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time; just be sure you constantly seek out better ways of working and celebrate small improvements.
Maintain and Ship Your Inventory
One of the reasons why many online business owners choose to sell their products on established platforms like Amazon is because they can use services like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to manage and ship their inventory. Rather than having to worry about having your own warehouse space to store your inventory, you can ship your products to Amazon and then let them take care of the picking, packing and shipping once your items sell.
If you are going to be handling all of your inventory and shipping on your own, you will want to assess your landed cost and review your supply chain. After all, you don’t want to keep customers waiting weeks for their package to arrive, so preparation and research will be the keys to your success.