Setting up Shop as an Online Retailer

These days, when you want to go into business for yourself, you really do have a whole host of options available to you. That’s the beauty of the modern world; so much more is accessible to you right now than it ever has been before. So you’re really not closed off from any kind of opportunity. However, with a smorgasbord of options, you may find that you have a lot to choose from – too much in fact. And that can leave you feeling overwhelmed. So, if you are going to set up shop, you might want to start with something broad, like online retail.

The online retail market might seem saturated to you, but there’s always room for more. Especially if you have a specific niche that you can go into. The thing with retail is, that people are often looking for the best product, things they need, things they want, and at the right price — not matter how low or high-priced that may be.

So as long as you can pull together a business plan for a good store with the right products aimed at a market that will be interested, you’ll be on the right track. So let’s take a look at what you might need to consider to make this happen.

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Your Products

So, before you do just about anything else or get ahead of yourself, you’re going to want to decide what products you’re going to sell and in what kind of niche or industry.

What You’re Going To Sell

This is probably going to be the most important part of this entire process, because without deciding on the products you’re going to sell, you can’t do much else! So you need to get thinking about what you should stock. Sometimes, this will be easy. You may already have something in mind, which sparked your idea to start an online store in the first instance. But if you haven’t and you’re open to suggestions, you should think about the profitable products that could work for you.

Who You’re Going To Sell It To

But that’s not all you need to do. Because choosing what you’re going to sell is just half of the battle. You then have to actually make sure that there is a market for the product. And the answer to this section shouldn’t just be yes, you actually have to define your target market and know exactly who you’re going to be selling to.

How You’re Going To Source Them

So now that you’re getting there, you’re going to want to get some of your plans a little more firmed up. Because knowing what you’re going to sell is great in theory, but you have to know that you can make it happen. You should find a supplier that either can be your wholesaler for the products, or supply you the parts that you need to create your products from scratch.

Your Website

Then, you’re going to need to work on the actual store aspect of the business, which in this case will be your website.

The Design

As you start to set up your site, it’s essential that you think about creating the right look. This should ideally fit in with the brand vision you have for your business. That means that your color scheme should be the same as your brand across the board. But you also need to ensure that the design you come up with is easy for your customers to navigate. For this reason, it can be useful to work with a development company.

The Ecommerce Provider

But you also need to make sure that you choose the right ecommerce platform. This is another reason why it can be useful to work with an ecommerce provider, as they can talk you through your options and which may be best for your needs. They’re likely to have worked with many before, so should have some good insights. But you do have to make sure that you pick a provider that you’re going to find easy to use and work with.

A Blog

At this point, you may also want to build a blog on your site. This can be great for your business for SEO reasons. This is something that can fall under your marketing, but as you’ll be pulling together your website design, it can be covered off here too. You need to build a section on your site that will let you to publish blog posts.

Your Marketing

Closely related to setting up your website is working on your marketing. In fact, the last point about your blog, is very interlinked with how you’re going to market your store. So let’s look at what you can do.

The Strategy

Firstly, before you begin to market your business in any way at all, you’re going to want to come up with a suitable strategy. Because every effective kind of promotion will have a purpose. You need to come up with promotional goals and ensure that all of the activity you execute stays in line with achieving those goals.

The Platforms

As part of that strategy, you need to be thinking about the right platforms to work on. Because you will want to have a good social media presence. And to do that, you have to know which platforms will work best for you. To choose, you should be thinking about your audience and where they tend to interact, and you should discover where you need to be.

The Promotions

Then, you need to know exactly what you’re going to do with your marketing. Are you going to advertise or do any PR? What message will you use? How long will each campaign be? What results are you looking to get? It’s essential that you can plan out full promotional campaigns from conception to results.

Your Distribution

You also need to know how you’re going to supply your products. This should factor not only into your business operations as a whole, but into your pricing too.

Where You’ll Store Stock

Okay, so let’s think about something much more practical. So you have the products that you want to sell — or you will do soon. But where are you going to store them? Whether you choose to use a warehousing company or you buy your own building, this is something that needs to be factored into your plan. The outcome of this can often determine your pricing strategy too, based on the overall cost.

How You’ll Get It To The Customer

And how are you planning on getting your products to your customer? You’re an online store, so you know that they can’t just come on in and buy from you then take the products away. Therefore, you have to arrange a delivery option for them. This is going to require you to negotiate a contract with the right deliver company. This too will affect your pricing and what you charge for delivery — as your rates need to be similar to your competitors and others in the industry to be competitive.

Will You Wholesale?

This leads us nicely on to our last distribution-based question, which is about wholesale. Because you’re going to want to consider the option of wholesaling your product. For clothing, places like ASOS or Nordstrom would be a great example of where you could sell. Or, do you just want your items to be available exclusively from you?

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Your Growth

But you shouldn’t just be thinking about the things you need for right now, for getting set up. You also need to be thinking ahead. It’s essential that you can plan in your growth if you want to succeed.

Business Planning

So you’re pulling together this business plan now to get everything off the ground. But it’s not just something you should do once and forget about. Business planning can be the sole thing that pushes your growth forwards. Because when you’re trying to keep things on track, and you’re setting goals to chase, you have a way of holding yourself accountable for accomplishing things. And this can often help you to make sure you do continue to grow.

Growth Strategy

With that last point in mind, it’s going to help you to have a growth strategy. This is something that you could set in place now, so that you know what work you have to do, or once you’ve gotten everything else off of the ground. Either way, it can be the essential ingredient that will make sure the growth actually takes place.

Financial Forecasting

The third and final kind of planning you should consider is financial forecasting. This is something that you will need to do now as part of your business plan, but it will help you to stay motivated to keep thing going too. Numbers aren’t easy to chase unless you have them in mind. You then need to formulate the figures backwards to find out what you need to sell in order to make that happen. Even if you’re not great with numbers, this can be incredibly motivating to help your store grow.

Can You Truly Run an Entire Business from Your Bedroom?

It’s no secret that running a business from home is a popular idea these days. But, a lot of people still have one main concern — is it actually possible? Surely, at some point, you have to move into an office, right? Or, can you really just run an entire business from your bedroom?

To answer this, I’ve made a few points that show how it might be possible to become a business owner and never leave your bed.

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Use Online Technologies to Your Advantage

Online technologies have made it far easier to fully fun an entire business from your bedroom. They tackle a few key problems that home business owners might have come across in the past. The main one is employee collaboration. Previously, people struggled to properly collaborate with employees unless they were all in the same room.

Now, thanks to the cloud, you can do this with ease. There are tools out there that let you all work on the same documents together, and you’ve also got so many instant messaging services to make communication simple too. Furthermore, businesses can use online marketing to reach a wide audience these days too.

Before, working from home might have restricted your market reach, now it’s not an issue!

Utilise Different Third-Party Services

A third-party service is when you look outside of your business for help with certain things. The best example of this is a third-party logistics service (3PL). A lot of businesses will use 3PL warehouse management services to help them run their business from home. The idea here is that you remain in your home office, while a third-party service operates a warehouse for you.

You can get all your stock delivered there, where they sort through it and deliver it to your customers. Another great example is third-party customer service providers. Again, you stay at home, but they have an entire office full of customer service providers ready to listen to your customers.

In both instances, you’ve provided a top-level service without needing to move out of your home office. The idea is to offload large tasks to other companies that can handle them better than you.

Choose a Business Ideal that Works

Last, but by no means least, you need to consider your business idea itself. The main thing to think about is, well, will it actually work?! There are loads of business ideas that are almost designed to work well when ran from home. Online retail companies and businesses offering services or consultations are fantastic examples of ideas that work.

But, you also have some ideas that just won’t work well at all. It’s all about looking at your idea and figuring out where the sticking points are. What I mean is; where can you foresee issues with running this company from home. Businesses that often require clients to come and meet with you aren’t really ideal for home business ideas. You don’t want to have important people coming to your house every day, it looks unprofessional, and you’re better off with an office.

You can definitely run your whole business from home without ever needing an office. The key is choosing the right idea, outsourcing the right tasks, and using the internet to your advantage!

Here’s a Quick Guide to Getting Your Product on and Flying off the Retail Shelves

Some people might start selling a product themselves after they come up with it. Even if you do choose to sell as well as make your own product, looking for retailers who will put it on their shelves (or in their online store) can help you to sell more. For some products, it makes much more sense for you to have other people sell them. Distribution is one of the best ways to drive sales. At the moment you might only have one or two products, so it might not make sense for you to have your own physical retail outlet. If your goal is to have other people sell your product(s) then there are a few things you need to take care of first.

Know Your Numbers

Before you start asking people to buy your products, you need to ensure you have a good head for the costs and figures.

How much does your product cost to make? What’s the cheapest you can make it, and the cheapest you can reasonably sell it? When you work out your cost per unit, you need to consider a range of factors, not just the manufacturing costs.

Don’t forget to think about packaging, shipping, and other expenses involved in producing your product. Work out whether it’s possible to sell more units for less too, as this can appeal to retailers.

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Make Sure It Looks Good

Your product needs to look good on the shelves, or in photos if it’s going to be sold online. You’ll need to think about its packaging and do some research into labeling systems to come up with a design for your product if you haven’t already.

You need to consider what your product looks like, how it might need protecting, and the costs of packaging. You should also think about it from the retailer’s perspective. They only have limited amounts of space, either on their shelves or in their storage space.

Packaging your product as small as it can be means they can put more on the shelves.

From Good Relationships with Retailers

Of course, you need to have good relationships with retailers if you want them to sell your product.

You might not convince them to do it right away, but having them in your contacts will help you. You might meet them by going to trade shows and even visiting stores, as well as networking both online and offline. You can also do independent research into the retailers you would like to sell your products.

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Sort Out the Technicalities

Make sure your product is ready to go on the shelves by taking care of all the official matters. It needs to be appropriately labeled within any regulations, and you need to think about whether you need to protect your product.

Sometimes, you might want to file a patent or perhaps register a trademark. This is always important, but could be especially so if you’re worried about retailers making their own version of your product.

Get your product out on the shelves by presenting it well to retailers. You need to show them your product is worth selling.

Your Food Retail Business: What Customers Want

Of all the many kinds of business that you can run, it can be difficult to choose between them. This can be especially true when you are just starting out, as you don’t have the necessary experience to know what is likely to work and what is not so likely.

However, there are certain industries where you have a fair chance of going for something that will at least from a reputable business pretty quick. One particular example of this is the food and drink retail industry. People are always going to need food, and as long as you can provide a relatively competitive framework, there is no reason your business won’t succeed. Let’s have a look at how to ensure your food business really booms.

Decide on a Model

There are a million ways to sell anything, and that definitely includes food. When you are setting out in this, you will need to know quite clearly what kind of model your business is going to use. It is only when you know your model that you can expect to begin selling. You want to go for something that you have faith will work in your area. All businesses begin local, and thinking locally will help ensure that yours gets off on the right foot. It might be that you want to run a budget supermarket, catering to those who are unable to afford some of the upper class supermarkets. Or you might just want to run a little bistro selling only your own goods. Whatever way you do it, decide on it early and stick with it.

Take Care of Your Products

The food that you sell is paramount for your success to really happen, so you need to take care in your products from the very start. Treat each product well, and you will find that it makes a huge difference. Try not to rush anything through the development stages — if you do this, you might find that you end up with products which are not really suitable at all. One of the most important parts is the packaging — you need to make sure that you have got it just right for each product, keeping it as specific as possible. This means using proper coffee pouches for your coffee, the right shaped pods for ready meals, vacuum packed bags for crisps, and so on. Everything has its own kind of packaging for a reason, so be sure to remember that and treat each product with respect.

Listen to Your Customer

As we all know, the customer is always right and it was actually in the world of food retail that this idiom began. It’s true — if you want to succeed, you should run your business as though the customer is always right. You will find that this makes a huge difference to how well you do on the whole, and you can make it much easier to keep your customer happy. With any luck, you will soon be booming like you never imagined.

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Ideas to Make Your Retail Store Standout From the Competition

The retail sector is one that continues to remain competitive despite the popularity of online-only businesses. This makes it an excellent place to expand your current business operations, offering you a clear path to help you grow your business. If you’re looking for the next best place to take your business then retail is the place to be. Giving your online business a physical location can do wonders for your business. It will help you increase exposure, it gives your local customers somewhere to shop, and it allows them to try out or view your products before buying.

But whether you’re thinking of expanding to a physical location or if you simply need a bit of help drawing more attention to your retail store, here are a couple of tips to give you a hand.

Making your own products

Very few retail stores make their own products to sell. This is usually more common in arts and craft areas, but it’s also possible to do if you sell things like computer components, electronic devices and so on. This is usually associated with owning a factory, but there are times when you can create your own products in the back. If you own a restaurant or a cafe, then this also applies. Instead of buying things frozen or storing food in fridges and freezers, considering making everything from scratch. Whether it’s the bread that you turn into sandwiches or the pasta you add to your homemade sauces, put some love into your product by making it yourself.

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Image Credit: Pexels

Have a parking lot

With some striping pavement stencils and permission, you could paint on a simple parking lot for your customers to use. This is fantastic for any store that sells large appliances such as kitchen equipment, computers or even workshop tools. This is because you don’t want your customers hauling out heavy equipment from the front door and then several minutes down the road just to reach their car. Having a parking lot is fantastic for customer service and it will set you apart from the competition surrounding you that haven’t invested in a parking lot. Just keep in mind that you’ll need some equipment, signage, and permission to set it up — it’s not an option available to everyone, so contact the city/municipality for guidance.

Less is more

One of the things that a lot of businesses get wrong is with choices. Too much choice can be damaging to your brand because you’re making your customers decide between an already congested market. In today’s world consumers have to pick between the dizzying number of smartphone manufacturers (Samsung, Apple Inc., etc.); so if you’re selling electronics (such as phones, computers, and other devices), you want to limit the decisions your customers have to make by offering a more diverse choice instead of too much choice. For instance, instead of having several smartphone models from the same manufacturer, have the latest flagship phone from several different manufacturers instead. Similarly, if you operate a restaurant with a menu that has 500 items, then you want to cut down, condense your menu and give your patrons more diverse choice, not five of the same menu item with different variations of the sauce you use.