Many entrepreneurs are choosing to start shops online rather than physically on the high street as the running costs on premises are so high. An online shop allows flexible working as well as being able to pocket the profits rather than worry about increasing overheads. The costs to market yourself are also a lot less and simpler to maintain yourself rather than outsource with a hefty price tag to match. You are also a lot more likely to be able to take your product or service global rather than being restricted to your geographical location, this also makes for more possibilities as to the demographic you might reach as it is proven that people are more open to suggestion and impulse buys whilst browsing on the Internet whereas a lot more considered when in a physical shop.
Firstly you need to come up with an idea that you feel you would enjoy as well as have research and evidence to suggest it would be successful. It might be worth asking some questions across your friends and family to get a broad spectrum of an indication about whether they feel the idea would be feasible and if they do, what factors would persuade them to use your business rather than existing ones.
Setting up an online business has the same procedures and requirements as a physical one, so don’t try and cut corners. You will need to register as self employed so that your tax and personal allowances can be adjusted. Failure to do this can result in a hefty fine so don’t skip this step. It may be more tedious than the creative side of things but is just as essential. If this is your only form of occupation you may also need to start self-assessing. There is some great information on the HMRC website. Anyway, on with the fun stuff…
On auction sites its pretty simple to set yourself up a page (like a site to sell on but that sits within the wider auction site) that looks professional and has its own design, layout, colour scheme and logos. Making your site look more reputable will not only increase more people to shop with you but also to spend more when they do shop meaning your average transaction amount (which is tracked by the sites moderators) will show you are more successful.
Think of what will stand your shop apart from the others. Are you planning to offer a discount on delivery, size guides or even trend advice. Customers need to have a reason to use you over the competition so think carefully about how you can give them more for their money and ensure they go away feeling valued. Offering a personalized letter on completion of sales, logos on invoices, a return customer reward scheme and using ebay couriers on uship or a similarly reputable service to ensure the product is received in perfect and timely condition. These are all known tactics for ensuring happy customers.
Once you have built your site then comes the promotion via email marketing, banners online or even physical adverts alerting people to your shop. Get friends and family to prompt their friends to have a look and why not also set up some social accounts for the shop, so people can tweet or Facebook you questions, or requests through other routes not only via the store or email itself.
After you have been trading for a couple of months you may want to learn more about how to optimize your site so it appears in more peoples listings. This can be monitored within the Traffic Report sections of the site as well as the additional tools that you can buy to measure specific activity within your shop. By using these metric applications you are able to tweak your selling strategies to target the individuals you need or want to, or how to upsell specific products that aren’t doing so well.
Hopefully this has made it clear just how achievable it is to run your own online shop whether as a sideline to your 9 to 5 job or as a full time option once it takes off and becomes more reliable. In an economy that’s really struggling a bit of extra money would be handy so get your thinking caps on and find a niche that could work for you.