Have you ever toyed with the idea of starting a business from home?
Many businesses are now built from home, and the internet is filled with success stories about people who managed to launch an online store and make a decent living.
Perhaps what makes the e-commerce industry so attractive is the low initial investment. Anyone can start a store like this if they put in the time to learn some of the mechanics of the industry and find out what products are worth selling.
Although it’s an attractive business model, it’s not free from pitfalls. Finding the right suppliers, a profitable niche, and high-quality products for a low price isn’t a walk in the park. But in most cases, it’s worth it.
As the business expands, you’ll probably need more people by your side. However, in the beginning, if you are willing to take care of the basics of sales and marketing, you can do it on your own.
If you are interested in learning how can set you a thriving e-commerce business from scratch, read on.
Pick the right platform
Long gone are the days when you have to hire someone to create a website from scratch.
There are many things you have to consider when building a website, but choosing the platform is probably one of the biggest decisions. Platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento bring all the features you need into one place. But there are a few pros and cons to each of them.
For example, Magento requires some coding skills, and it’s a better fit for businesses that have a bigger budget.
At the present time, Magento offers a free version. That said, if you want all the features, you may have to pay up to $20,000 per year.
If you have a smaller budget, you can set up a free Shopify store for 7 days (trial version) to see if you can handle the dashboard, setting up the themes, etc.
According to Inc, a Shopify package starts at $29 per month, and it go up to $299 if you don’t want to make compromises when it comes to features.
The only downsides of it is the additional transaction fee and the fact that additional extensions are not included in the package.
There is an option for WordPress lovers as well: WooCommerce, a free plugin that can be installed on your WP website.
The dashboard is easy to manage, especially if you are already used to WordPress, and it comes with many free features. The only problem that this plugin poses is speed. On WordPress, you won’t have a high-speed e-commerce store if you have hundreds of sellers and products in your directory.
Squarespace is another platform you might want to look into it even if you don’t have to buy their packages. On their support page, you can find free training on how to set up an e-commerce business and promote it.
Pick a profitable niche
If you want to succeed in this business venture, you need to find narrow niches that are ignored by bigger stores.
When you sell products from broad niches, you compete with big players that have far more credibility and a bigger budget for advertising than you have. But when you look for products that are scarce in big stores, you “force” search engines to put your store on the first page because it allows for a larger variety.
Tools such as Google trends show the interest for a product over large period of time. It also shows the source of the traffic, related queries, and related topics.
How to find high-quality products and build a positive reputation
The king of e-commerce for solo entrepreneurs is Alibaba, a Chinese platform where businesses can buy products in bulk at discounted prices.
A common mistake, however, is to adopt the drop shipping model without verifying the quality of the products you are selling.
If you want to play the game in the long-term, you need to satisfy your customers and minimize returns. Despite the risk of receiving returns, some business owners don’t order the products before they put them in their online store.
To be profitable, you have to verify the quality of your products, and you can do so by ordering a sample.
Another common mistake is expecting for buyers to wait anywhere between 30 and 60 days for the item to arrive. This happens because Chinese companies that produce the items want to save money on shipping
In a world where Amazon practices same-day delivery, how can your e-commerce store be competitive when shipping takes this long?
To remain competitive, you need to store the products yourself. Self-storage units are scattered everywhere around the country, and it won’t be hard to find one near you.
As a consequence, you will prevent the buyer from dealing with the hassle of spending months to wait for their product. Instead, it can arrive within days.