How to start an eCommerce business
Moving into the world of selling can be daunting and confusing. But there are some simple steps you can take that will see you grow from a budding entrepreneur to a successful eCommerce operator.
Despite COVID, online sales are growing
Despite the pandemic, eCommerce in Europe is expected to be worth €717 billion by end-2020, an increase of 12.7% compared with last year. And in the USA, the third quarter of 2019 alone saw sales hit $154.5 billion, or 11.2% of all retail sales.
A recent report also shows that the UK has the highest share of online shoppers in Europe at 94%. Denmark is 86% while Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden are all at 84%.
So, with more and more businesses jumping from bricks and mortar stores to a digital offering—particularly during the COVID pandemic—you might feel there are enough online outlets and why would you as a small retailer be able to measure up?
But you have many advantages as a smaller retailer. People love to be valued and feel they are getting a personal service so smaller businesses often look after their customers much better than larger ones.
The world is your oyster
If you’re selling on the web or via social media, the world is your potential marketplace. You can reach far flung corners if you target your potential audience and use clever and inexpensive marketing.
Just remember to sign up with a payment gateway that will offer your customers payment options in most currencies and local payment methods – Fondy provides all that.
Bricks and mortar stores have to contend with huge rents and outlays for utilities. Your energy and lighting costs are unlikely to increase much if selling from home and you won’t have to worry about commercial landlords hiking their prices. All you need is space for a laptop and possibly somewhere to store goods.
Build your business around you
Seems obvious to say it but you can still run an online business if you’re studying, in full-time employment, a stay-at-home parent—aren’t many people, these days!— or retired. The effort you want to put in is up to you. All you need is a laptop and a decent WiFi connection.
Find your USP
Your Unique Selling Point is key to finding and retaining customers. Find your niche. Do something a little different from other businesses or just do it better. Forget location, location, location. It’s research, research, research.
Still struggling? Have a think about these questions:
- Where is there a need in the market and how can you fill that gap?
- What gets you excited? What are you interested in?
- Who is your perfect customer?
- Which environment would you most like to work in?
- Are you planning on selling physical or digital products?
- Where will you get these from?
- Have you thought about suppliers?
- Which countries will supply your goods?
- What can you do if there are shipment delays?
- Can you source products locally and therefore support nearby businesses?
Think of a name
Got one? Great! Can’t think of one? Consider what you’re looking to sell and try to come up with something unique or clever. Still struggling? There are lots of online business name generators to help.
Make sure your business name is unique and also ensure your chosen business name and website domain name are the same to make it much easier for people to find you if they don’t know the URL.
Sole trader or limited company?
Are you going to be a sole trader or a limited company? Do your research on both and think about hiring an accountant as you may well need to have one to save you time. Juggling accounts while trying to run a business can be quite time-consuming.
Yes, it’s a chore but you’ll need to have a good business plan. It’s an excellent way of visualising how your business will grow once you get it off the ground and something you can continually add to.
Simple, easy transactions
To sell online, you’re going to need a secure payment gateway where your customers can pay for your goods or services using a variety of options such as cards, mobile wallets or online banking. Fondy has been designed with smaller and medium-sized businesses in mind and offers local payments methods for over 200 countries in more than 150 currencies.
Minimal marketing costs
Did you know that 46% of all Google searches are for local information, 30% of Google mobile searches are related to location and 97% of search engine users searched to find a local business? And by 2021, mobile devices will influence more than $1.4 trillion in local sales?
So while major retailers spend a fortune on marketing, you won’t need to. Just some common sense and being a bit savvy will see you get results. Many websites will allow you to advertise for free and you can use platforms such as Google Adwords or Google My Business.
Other costs to consider
- Creating a website. There are a wealth of web builders you can use such as WiX, WordPress, Magento, Opencart, Shopify and Drupal, that will work with a payment gateway, such as Fondy, so you don’t need to spend money on hiring a designer.
- Company formation costs
- Domain name and hosting
So now you’ve got all the information you need to start selling, what’s stopping you? You could be selling online in time for Cyber Week 2020 and the busy holiday season.