Practical tips to help you launch an e-commerce business
Before starting an ecommerce business in the UK, it is important to understand that an online store is not a passive income, but a full-time job that requires a lot of time.
In order to be successful, you need to prepare thoroughly and understand all the stages of the launch. Khorosop has been working in e-commerce for more than eight years and has studied the needs of merchants, along with the peculiarities of doing business on the internet.
In this article, Hoxton Mix share their recommendations when opening an online store.
Check you have the investment required
Few businesses can be launched without money. At the very least you will need a laptop to work from and some kind of web presence. And even if you build your own website, you will need to pay for domain names and hosting, as well as any software required to run your business.
So before you start working on your business, check what budget you will need to get it off the ground. Do you need any equipment or supplies? Will you need to hire anyone to help you? Are there any taxes or licenses you need to be aware of? What about shipping or travel?
And then there’s the expense most entrepreneurs overlook: your time. Despite what you think, your time isn’t free. Any time you spend on your business is time taken from elsewhere. That’s time with your family, your free time, or time you could have spent earning money.
When launching a business, it’s important to plan a financial forecast. This will help you understand what it’s going to cost you to get your business off the ground, and when you are likely to see a return. This will help you evaluate whether you want to or can afford to work on your business until it makes a profit.
Consider what you are selling
Also consider what you are selling. The amount of investment required will depend on your chosen product and agreements with suppliers. It is clear that buying a batch of iPhone cases will cost less than buying a batch of food processors, for example.
It is possible to negotiate with suppliers on different conditions and while sale costs. So don’t be afraid to ask if they can do you a better deal or more favourable terms. But whatever products you choose to sell, unless you opt for a drop-shipping model it is likely you will need to invest in stock upfront.
Find a niche
When launching your business it is important to choose a niche to sell in. The world doesn’t need another Amazon selling all things to all people. And trying to reach and appeal to everyone will just be exhausting and expensive.
It’s far preferable instead to choose a niche and build a reputation of selling products in that area. Think carefully about what you want to sell, and who needs that. Then find sub groups of buyers until you hit on a group of people who are motivated to buy what you offer and have the fund to afford it.
These are your ideal customers and the people you want to build your shop and marketing around. The more your marketing and messaging appeals specifically to these people, the more success you’ll have on launching your business and getting those vital early sales.
They’ll also talk about and recommend your products to other people like them, helping you to grow your business and sales organically.
Search for a supplier
When you decide on the goods you want to sell, you need to find their supplier. And it’s important to choose wisely: your choice of supplier will affect the quality of your products, your pricing and the dependability of delivery. You must ensure that the goods you choose will be suitable for your potential customers.
If you are starting out you may decide to opt for a drop-shipping business model. This is a great option because it allows you sell products without the risk and expensive of investing in stock upfront and renting warehouse space. Many merchants continue to work with the drop-shipping system even after gaining experience.
Write a business plan
Whatever type of business you decide to launch, a business plan is a must. It will scope out all the essential elements of building a profitable business, including the features of your online store, the state of the market, the level of competition, your intentions, financial forecasts etc. A business plan can also be used to help you gain investment, if you need it.
Build a platform for your site
To be able to grow your business, you need to choose an online store platform that cares about the owner and the customers. A high-quality website will help you attract the right customers and make it more attractive and easy for them to buy from you.
Also consider what technical support you need. You can’t afford for your site to go down, or for sales not to process correctly. So if you are investing in a third-party platform check what kind of support they provide and how quick they are to respond. And if you are building your own, ensure you have back-up and technical support available around the clock.
Register your business
If you are running a business you need to ensure you have legally registered it correctly and that you are complying with any local registrations and keeping the correct documentation for tax. It’s far better to do your research and get all this right at the start, rather than wait until the last minute, or worse until you get in trouble!
Also make sure you keep your business books up to date. It’s important to get financial advice from an accountant. Yes it will cost money but they can often save you money by advising you how to be more tax efficient and keep the right records.
Promote your business on the internet
It is important to continually promote your business online if you want to grow a successful e-commerce business. You need to steady stream of new customers coming into your funnel, and to nurture them until they are ready to buy from you.
Here are some promotional channels that are worth considering:
- Contextual advertising
- Targeted advertising
- Advertising from bloggers
- Marketplaces and price aggregators
- Email marketing
We hope that this article is helpful and has given you ideas to help make your business more of a success.