Starting a business can be a daunting and challenging experience. Whether the business is offline or online or whether you’re planning to launch something to earn a bit of side money each week or launching a company you hope to grow into an international brand – the challenges you face from the get go will be almost identical.
In this article we’re going to run through some of the major things you’ll need to consider before taking on such an endeavor. Our focus in this article is going to be things to consider when opening an ecommerce store but as you’ll find when you read on, you can pretty much apply the same thought process to any business be it online or offline. So, let’s get started.
Choosing a Sector
You’ve think most people would know what sector they want to operate in beforehand but believe it or not a lot of people simply think, I want to run an ecommerce store – that’s decided, and only then will they think about what sort of product they actually want to offer.
Unless you have something specific in mind you’d like to sell then the sectors you should be looking at operating in will be determined by products, profit and promotion or the 3 P’s as I like to call them.
Products – See more on this below, but do you have a supplier for the things you’d like to sell?
Profit – Is there enough profit margin, can the item be marked up enough to make it worthwhile?
Promotion – Can you generate enough traffic to make the project feasible and are there enough “potential” customers out there.
These are some of the things you should be considering.
You have two options when it comes to product supply. You can either source and hold stock yourself or you can find a drop shipper. The first is self-explanatory but drop shipping is slightly different. Drop shipping is where you’d pass your customers order to your supplier and they’d fulfill the order on your behalf i.e. ship it to your customer. This can be beneficial if you don’t want to hold stock and don’t want the huge financial outlay but it can also eat into your profits and limit the products you’re able to sell. For example, if you wanted to sell garden furniture online, you might only be able to find one or two suppliers who are willing to drop ship therefore your online catalog/shop is solely going to consist of their products which is no good at all.
If you want to be a success, you need to almost curate your product offering and offer the products you think your customers will want to see. To do this you’re going to need lots of different suppliers and you’re going to need to hold stock.
Fortunately, these days, there are hundreds of ecommerce platforms to choose from and all of them are designed for people who are not particularly tech-savvy. The big 3 at the time of writing are Magento, WooCommerce and Shopify (the 3rd position is somewhat debatable). Any of these platforms will suffice when it comes to getting your shop online and all have a vast array of themes, modules and plugins at their disposal due to their popularity. You can also find lots of tutorials for getting started right from the ground up. This site has a ton of them related to Magento and WooCommerce for example.
Marketing and Promotion
This is arguably the toughest part of the project and is the one that can really make it or break it. Sure, you might find getting suppliers a struggle or you might not be so tech-savvy as to configure your store, but promotion is really where the challenge lies. My advice on this issue is to start with a niche and as mentioned above curate your product list so you’re offering something unique and when people land on your site they want to stay there.
The relationships between you and your customers’ needs to be of the up-most importance. One customer can span literally hundreds of others if he tells one friend and that friend tells another two friends etc. – not to mention repeat business. Too many businesses treat customers as one offs and don’t realize the reach a single customer can yield. In any business, you should put customer relations at the top of your priority list as it’s those customers who can make or break your business.
Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought if you’re considering opening an online ecommerce store. Of course, each of these sections could be expanded on, almost infinitely and there is a whole bunch of additional stuff to consider once you’ve got your store up and running but for the most part this should suffice to get you started.
Diamu Blog Team.