Starting an ecommerce store has long ago become a lucrative business opportunity. While online stores become more and more profitable, it gets increasingly harder to stand out from the crowd and other competitors in the chosen niche. The global market, in general, has become extremely competitive, and having a business idea is simply not enough if you want to succeed.
This is why it’s important to thoroughly analyze all aspects of online stores before you start your own online business. Moreover, running an online boutique necessitates strong managerial and organizational skills. Even if your online store works seamlessly (i.e. it doesn’t malfunction and cause a nuisance to customers), having insufficient managerial skills will most likely reduce your likelihood of success. As a manager, you’d also have to make/review social posts and engage in heavy e-mail marketing. Even Jeff Bezos takes care to review important mails and feedback from customers. As the CEO of your company, you should also participate in building a strong brand image, and provide suggestions and ideas regarding the advertising part.
In this text, we’ll tackle both issues- opening an online store and leading it.
Step by Step Guide: Choosing Your Niche and Products
As emphasized in other texts we’ve written on this topic, it’s quite challenging to give concrete and “guaranteed” suggestions when it comes to choosing your niche and product. While it’s easy to simply “jump on the bandwagon” and sell anything other people sell online, this type of approach is likely to backfire.
Nevertheless, we’ll go on to mention the most popular niches for Internet businesses, and then enumerate less popular yet promising new ideas that might become more and more popular as time goes on.
Popular And Profitable Online Business Niches
These products are most popular on Amazon:
- Clothes (especially women’s clothes like yoga leggings, bras, and denim)
- Man’s shoes- and we have to emphasize it’s men’s (winter) shoes.
- Bed Sheets
- Apple AirPods
We’ve only mentioned the most popular ones, but you get the point. These categories of products are quite general, and, most importantly, oversaturated by competition. While demand is high, the supply of clothes and shoes is even higher. This is why it’s extremely hard to make a name for yourself if your eCommerce business sells (only) default shoes and clothes. We emphasize the word default because you can always find a specific niche within these product categories, where it might be easier to stand out from the crowd.
For instance, you can follow the trending TV and Netflix series. It would be smart to look out for epic series that include a special type of apparel and costumes which are recognizable. The next thing would be to choose one piece of clothes that you want to sell. Let’s take the example of Chernobyl Netflix series. First of all, this isn’t even an epic series- however, there are still recognizable pieces of clothes wore in Chernobyl (caps, etc.). If you find a way to produce this type of clothes (i.e. caps), you might make a fortune provided that you launch the online store at the right moment.
While this is one way to think about your potential business, you can also take other steps to start an eCommerce website. Instead of seeking to predict trends and future demand, you might try to make and sell a product that will have more intrinsic value to the buyer (i.e. in this case, you don’t associate your product with some external factor, like Chernobyl series). If you take this path, you will most possibly have to choose a rather specific niche- selling handmade swords, knives, and carpentry. Today’s market is oversaturated by bland, default-looking, mass-made products that don’t have any soul to them. This is why handmade products might mark a new boom- they are highly original and practically impossible to imitate. Needless to say, first you’d have to find a master blacksmith, and unfortunately, these are hard to come by nowadays. Upon finding one, it will also be necessary to convince him to embark on your endeavor, and for this, you’d need to establish a good rapport with your associate (which is a basic managerial rule anyways).
It has to be emphasized that products like these (TV-series-based merchandise), usually require some kind of permit or license, so pay attention to this aspect.
In the aforementioned example, your blacksmith is at the same time your only supplier (at first). Thus you won’t be able to satisfy a high demand for the product you’re offering, but that doesn’t matter because in the initial phases of developing an online store it’s reasonable to expect relatively low demand.
What happens, however, if you opt for another type of product? This is the topic we’ll address in the next section.
How to Find a Supplier?
Our stance towards the prevailing atmosphere among potential online store business owners has probably become apparent- we think that most people who want to start an e-commerce company lack vision and originality. This viewpoint of ours inevitably affects our suggestions regarding your quest for a supplier.
Instead of doing what everybody else does (finding a Chinese supplier), you should try to find another solution- and not because Donald Trump says so. We are convinced that, whatever type of products you choose to sell, you can find a person in your city (or in the nearest city) who can make that same product.
In other words, there’s no reason to search endlessly for the cheapest option. Why? Because leading a company isn’t only about making loads of money. It’s about building strong teams, knowing the plight of your employees, and striving to constantly improve the collective you’ve built. Warren Buffet, for instance, learned how important it is to build a good relationship with associates. If personal relationships are so important at that level, why wouldn’t they be important in small startups?
Domain Name Selection
How to choose a domain name? This is a purely technical issue, but well worth noting. First of all, you’d want to choose the .com type domain. Other types of domains might pose various obstacles on your way. On the other hand, neither the .com domain is perfect, but you’d do good to stick with it.
The name should be short. It should be recognizable, easy to spell and say. Here you should test the misspell-rate of the potential name of your ecommerce. There are many ways to do this- you can either hire a psychologist who is familiar with psycholinguistic studies, or you can simply make a DIY experiment and hope you’ve got it right.
Do not include hyphens. Also, include keywords. Needless to say, there are many possible keywords, even within one product niche, which is why you might seek help from an SEO expert. Keep keywords close to the beginning of your domain name.
Seek to somehow adapt the domain name to your personal name. This might be useful especially if your business is closely tied to your persona (if you’re a writer, speaker, coach, etc.).
Check the availability of the name on social media. These platforms have long ago become an indispensable part of any company, let alone ecommerce.
Avoid using a string of words- because it’s easy to confuse the order of words in the name like “BestJeansByStephan”.
How To Purchase Your Domain
This one is fairly simple.
Purchasing and registering a domain is extremely easy, and you only have to choose your provider.
Here’s the list of sights that might come in handy:
How To Develop An Online Store?
How to start an ecommerce website?
This is probably the trickiest part. If you’re not an expert in programming, it would be best to leave this job to programmers. There are some parts that you can do on your own, but you have to be careful about it- if you make any mistakes, not only will your company suffer, but you’ll also have to pay experts who’d then correct your mistakes.
You can either hire a developer or use an online store builder like Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace, and Weebly. Once again, we think that it would be best to avoid what everybody else would do- take the easier route and use the services of Shopify and BigCommerce. Why? Because you can sit and talk with your programmer and come up with the best possible solution for your ecommerce, while you can’t do this with service providers like Shopify.
By establishing a good stream of communication with your programmer, it would be easier for you to see which services are essential for your company, and which ones don’t have to be developed in the initial phase. A good programmer will also help you optimize your e-commerce platform on a continuous basis.
Do You Need To Register A Business?
Online businesses may be rather different from classic companies, but they all have one thing in common- tax has to be paid in one way or another.
You have to gather a significant body of paperwork for both registration and tax-paying. This, of course, varies across countries.
While some countries like Estonia have made it easy for online entrepreneurs to start an eCommerce and even get the so-called e-residence, other countries usually make it more or less challenging for entrepreneurs to get their paperwork right.
Please do check your local laws, they are normally divided into ‘sole trader’ where you don’t need to register a company but will pay tax personally, and incorporating a Limited Company which will or won’t be liable to VAT as well.
We’ve mentioned the most important typical questions and concerns young entrepreneurs have when they consider starting up, especially an online store.
This journey can be stressful, but it can be so rewarding as well if things done right. Our world moves to online and from online to mobile, there are countless benefits to start some business on your own, and growing it from scratch. After all, it can start as a side-business and then with time you might be able to grow it to a fully fledged online business.
No need to stress, there are cost-efficient ways ho to get help – from software developers, designers, marketing managers, just so you can focus on the things you love doing most. Good luck!