Have you been thinking of setting up an online shop but not sure where to start? We’re here to help, with a handy guide on what you need to think about before you take the plunge into e-commerce.
Decide on your niche
This is the first hurdle – what are you going to sell, and who are you going to sell it to? It’s a good idea to start with your niche, or the area that you are interested in. Think of this as an area rather than a product; ‘gardening’ rather than ‘trowels,’ and be strategic in your choice.
The best niches are ones that sell expensive products (£80-100 per product), that occupy a sector that is steadily growing in popularity and hasn’t already developed a lot of brand loyalty. Do your market research to get information on your competitors and understand how the industry functions. Most importantly, don’t go into a niche that you know nothing about!
Choose a business model
This depends on whether you are selling items that you have created yourself, or if you are going to use a supplier. If you are using a supplier, you can choose between dropshipping – where the supplier holds the stock – or holding your own products, where you have to pay for warehouse costs and packaging.
Holding your own products that you’ve shipped in or selling your own unique handmade items gives you an advantage when you’re looking to create and grow a brand. You are in full control of the customer experience, so you can design your own packaging, send it yourself and handle returns and customer enquiries personally.
If you are a small, local business that is just starting to sell your own products, capitalise on your ability to make each item personal. Include hand-written notes thanking them for their purchase and asking them to follow you on social media, and make sure your customer service is both personable and competent. Creating a great customer experience makes it more likely for them to recommend your service to others.
Choose a supplier
You’ve got your niche, and a good idea of what you want to sell; but if you’re ordering in your products or materials, how do you choose what products to stock? Search the best-sellers in your niche on Amazon and Ebay to compare prices, and look to AliExpress and AliBaba for good supplier sites. If you don’t want to start shipping in products internationally and you don’t need a huge supply, do some research in your area to see if you can create any deals with local suppliers instead.
Create a website
Now you’ve got the foundations laid, it’s time to craft a beautiful website! Choose a domain name that aligns with your brand, upload your products and start advertising your site. Go Sitebuilder is one of the best ecommerce website builders, and offers a 14-day free trial where you can make an easy-to-use and professional website, even if you have no experience in web design!