With the UK ecommerce market expected to grow to $132 billion by 2018, the online retail space is full of potential when it comes to starting a business. What’s more, it’s an extremely accessible market that offers plenty of flexibility, enabling you to work your own hours and dedicate as much or as little time as you choose. If you’ve been thinking about entering into the world of entrepreneurship, selling online could well be a viable option. To get you started, here are some things you will need to consider when launching an ecommerce store.
As with any home business, you will need somewhere to work. Whilst an online venture technically requires little more than a laptop, a designated working space ensures a much-needed degree of structure in the sometimes helter-skelter world of freelance. Even if you don’t have a spare room, it’s important to have a supportive chair and a big enough surface for your computer, notepads and stationery. Additionally, if you plan on managing your stock from home, you will also need somewhere to store it.
If you’re thinking about starting an online shop, you most likely already have a product in mind. In order to turn this into a profitable niche, you will need to define your market in terms of target audience. Who are your ideal customers? What are their interests, and their reasons for buying your product in particular? In addition to forging a strong brand identity, carefully considered buyer personas will help to identify how and where you should focus your marketing efforts.
Every ecommerce store needs a website – indeed, even bricks-and-mortar businesses should be taking full advantage of the digital age. In addition to looking professional and being easy to navigate, your website will need to showcase your products in the best light and, of course, integrate shopping cart and checkout features. A hosting package that is specifically geared towards ecommerce is the best option to create an online store; companies such as 1&1 often offer pre-designed templates, as well as a wide range of marketing tools, to help get your business off the ground.
This is something that often comes as an afterthought, but it’s actually crucial to have a fully-fledged marketing strategy in place prior to launching. It’s one thing to set up shop, but if you are unable to successfully reach your customers, your efforts will have been in vain. More often than not, social media holds the key. Join the most relevant platforms and use promotions and offers to create a buzz around your store before it goes live. If you’re new to social media, this introductory guide from Moz may be useful.
Stock & Delivery
Ecommerce is not all about a great website and a killer marketing strategy. Behind the scenes, you will need a smooth-running system for handling stock and delivery. First, you will need to have a clear idea in mind of where you will source your stock. If you plan on selling something homemade then this is fairly obvious, but you may still need to consider bulk-buying any materials and equipment. Secondly, you will need a solid plan for postage and packaging: will you offer international delivery? What are the estimated postage costs per product? Having a proper plan from the word “go” will enable you to manage your budget and ensure you are ready to deliver as soon as the orders come in.