October 1, 2016 by Ed Kennedy
Beyond Signup: 5 Need to Knows When Starting an eCommerce Store
One of the great things about the day and age we live in is the capacity to start something instantly. Whether its a song you’ve streamed, a online course to learn something with, and even a eCommerce business via sites like Amazon, eBay, or Shopify. Beyond any aspiration for money or fame, many creatives are drawn to starting a online business as it offers them the opportunity to create and contribute something.
What’s more, while there is nothing wrong with taking a ‘business-first’ approach to starting a new venture, a founder of a new enterprise who holds a creative energy and passion for it shall often find the growth of their business occurs far faster than someone who has identified a growth opportunity’, ‘developing trend’ or some of those important but technical terms that can fast take the life out of a party.
The trade off to this passion can often come with the particulars. While this shouldn’t be read as a suggestion creatives manage a broader business poorly – for often it’s the exact opposite as someone who ‘runs their own show’ must take responsibility for the ins and outs of their whole business – but for newcomers the excitement of starting something new can see them take step forward, but then two steps back; dealing with red tape, unforeseen challenges, and all those day-to-day things that go into making a venture successful.
Rather than put a damper on a new and good idea getting to market may the following serve to assist those who’ve a good product in hand; and just now need to put the pieces of a great eCommerce store around it..
Have a Simple Name
Whatever you want to sell its great your got the passion to kick off an online store; its just also essential people can connect with it. So, even if you’re a Mary Poppins fan from way back it’s hard to make ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ into a winning eCommerce store name.
Being obsessive about things like SEO and social media friendliness is decidedly unwise – for even a business like Shopify sounds a bit obscure and abstract if you hadn’t heard of it ever before – but having a business name people can type out, and easily pronounce is vital. After all, who knows when you’re store will next come in conversation?
Decide on One Store or Multiple
Depending on your product weighing up where to begin shall prove a factor. If you’re’ someone naturally very organised then selling across multiple sites can be wise. If you’re someone that does struggle to now and then find your bus ticket in the morning, going ahead and sticking with one at the start is likely ideal.
Ultimately, many people will say ‘just stick to one if new’ but so too will others say ‘multiple eCommerce stores means you can grow your business faster’, so there is no right or wrong answer here; just one that best fits.
Further, unconventional areas for sales can also be good. If you can setup a Paypal button on a simple website that explains why your product is an essential gift for Halloween, Christmas or Co you may find better success around the holidays with your product that you do on the main avenues for online sales.
Anticipate Supply Chain Challenges
Generally there are two options for selling a product online. You either make it yourself or source it from elsewhere. True, there are options around like drop shipping – but while such a business model is simple in theory, in practice it can throw up a ton of unforeseen challenges surrounding use of images, supply chain issues, delays in delivery, and all other manner of things that just ruin your Friday nights – so exploring issues that arise at the outset will be important.
So consider, if you’re making a product yourself (e.g handmade jewellery) could you reasonably produce or have stockpiled a sufficient supply of stock in just demand surges? In turn, if you import, could you reasonably and quickly source a bigger order of goods if you become the next big thing in eCommerce?
While this depends on volume, desired growth, and your current customer based, if you’re unable to say yes here this is a potential issue. Not only does no one like to see an ‘out of stock’ sign when shopping online, but just like a surfer need anticipate a swell if you all of a sudden catch a wave of popularity you need stand ready to ride it through. Once again, exact stock levels shall vary dependent on your business, but as a rule 3 months worth is a good guide.
Manage Accounts and Tax
Disclaimer: this section is information purposes only and does not constitute financial advice.
While this varies from region to region, keeping good accounts and being aware of your tax obligations important for any new business. Accounts require pace and precision over speed – so they are rarely heart racing to do – but they remain vital to knowing your business is progressing, as well as declaring your earnings each time tax season rolls around.
Further, while tax also may not thrill a new and ambitious entrepreneur, there is value in exploring where you’re new business sits within it. The artist exemption is a good example of this; where the Irish government initiated a plan to encourage creatives to move to Ireland, and kick off a new era of Joyce, Wilde, and Shaw.
Even if you don’t live among the cobblestones of Dublin or across Erin’s isle, a new business shall always find for better- and to avoid the worst – staying atop of accounts and tax is essential.
Give it Time to Grow
There are such things as overnight successes. They are also quite rare, and their staying power even more so. So, while running a business does require a frank assessment of things when it’s not going well – if you’ve been advertising daily on Facebook but not had a single sale of your concert t shirts in 3 months that is an issue – but it’s also important to give your new venture time to grow, and avoid the temptation to be forever swapping things in and out like you were restoring a vintage car.
Over time you’ll find your readiness to tinker and alter with the format of your business shall grow. While this may not mean everything you do change is perfect, even the world’s biggest companies get it wrong occasionally, and it can usually be undone or reset. At the outset though, just ensure you give your startup enough time when its just starting out.
Just like a traditional brick and mortar business there are a variety of factors that shall determine your experience and your outcomes when starting a business online. From the particular product you offer, to how you seek to market it, to what unique features or aspects you offer to a customer that they won’t get elsewhere.
Nonetheless though, while the reasons a business may not succeed are numerous, businesses that do all require essential and common components (with the absence of them often dealing a great setback). So, have a good name, decide whether one eCommerce store or more fits your operating style, plan for ongoing supply of stock, manage your accounts effectively, and give your business time to grow when it is the new kid on the block.
Do these things and your business will have solid foundations in place; thereafter it’s up to you how you build on it.Ed Kennedy is a journalist and web designer proudly from Melbourne, Australia. Say hi to Ed via firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Edkennedy01