If the idea of selling to customers regardless of location sounds appealing to you, then you might be considering opening your own virtual store. The e-commerce space has its benefits, such as fewer overhead costs and a broader audience. If exploring the e-commerce world is still only an urge and not a set goal for you just yet because you do not have a concept fully formulated or do not know where to begin, you are probably asking: what should I sell? Am I ready to commit to running a digital business? Am I qualified to do so? Yes, you are—so here are some things you will need to do.
Decide what you will sell
You may have a passion for something and want to share it with the world. Do you enjoy making crafts? Are you fond of elaborate pet toys? If you have a talent for graphic design, print your artwork on t-shirts. If you love coffee, create coffee mugs with clever quips. Whether you love clothes, sports, art, music, technology, health and fitness, or something else, there is a product that you can make or resell.
You should not just sell anything, though. There are enough generic stores out there, so you need to find a niche or create a unique product that people would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. It’s also pragmatic to encourage impulse purchases, which means you need to offer products that people immediately establish an emotional connection with (if you sell clothes, garments with unique patterns are more likely to sell than ordinary stripes).
Consider market demand as well. The best businesses fulfill an unmet need, so what holes do you believe you can fill in your customers’ lives? If you live in an area where a particular item would be popular but is not accessible, that could be your key to high sales.
Determine how you will sell it
Where will you acquire your products? You can make them yourself and sell them on platforms like Etsy, order them for resale, or become a dropshipper. When you choose the latter option, you never hold inventory (which means that you never come into contact with products, and you do not have to rent a warehouse or store items in your home). Instead, you are purchasing items from suppliers and selling them to customers under your brand for a higher price (and the supplier ships the package directly to the buyer).
Creating items yourself requires you to develop a production process and streamline it. If you decide to dropship, you will need to conduct thorough research into finding reliable manufacturers to partner with. They are responsible for shipping—but you get the brunt of customer service, so you want to minimize mishaps. Finding the best drop ship suppliers can be an ordeal, so be patient and target ones that speak the same language you do.
Sell it somewhere accessible
Next question: where will you sell your products? Online, of course, but you can choose to build a website yourself, or take advantage of pre-existing platforms that make it simple to get a store up and running. The former method requires development experience—whether yours, a friend’s, or a freelancer’s—and the other may entail secondary branding, depending on what monthly plan you decide on. Shopify, Squarespace, and BigCommerce are popular options, but there are others that may offer different rates and applications that fit your needs and budget.
Build a prominent brand
Why should someone buy products from you and not from someone else? Their reasoning will depend upon your branding. Your business will need an identity, so construct one that reflects your attitude toward your venture (and your customers). Some things you will need to do include designing a logo, selecting a color palette, composing a mission statement, and creating your brand’s “voice” (for instance, what will your tone sound like on social media?). People want to purchase from trustworthy companies, so your brand will help convince them that you are reliable.
Don’t neglect customer relations
If you want to reach as many people as possible and keep customers loyal, then you need to treat them well. Recognize the importance of social media in your marketing efforts and leverage it wisely: respond to comments, answer questions, share intriguing content, and share user-generated material. Consumers do not merely seek inexpensive or niche products, they crave connection. Wouldn’t you rather do business with a brand that makes you feel good about yourself than one who accepts the transaction and moves on?
Operating an online store can be rewarding, so stop telling yourself that you are unprepared. What idea for an e-commerce business are you contemplating?