It is a glorious time to be seeped in the world of ecommerce. Practically everyone is shopping online these days, so getting in on the action is a perfect hustle for any self-respecting gigger to embrace wholeheartedly.
The great news is that it does not take much these days to get a solid online store cruising, and a few basic tips can certainly get you thinking the right way, across a variety of applicable platforms.
Step One: Where’s the Beef?
The first thing to consider in creating an online storefront, is whether you will be drop shipping your orders or handling the stock and shipping requirements. The difference is immense.
In drop shipping, you will not hold any of the stock yourself, but instead advertise and sell it, then fulfill its disbursement thru a third party. Drop shipping can be an incredible way to open up a variety of products to your market, and you avoid the overhead of having to warehouse anything before it is sold.
You can sell the latest and greatest of everything – all you really need to do, is find an affiliate program or sales incentive for/on your favorite products. Sign up and roll out your own advertising efforts.
However, there is an inherent risk in drop shipping, as you will be the responsible party for any issues – not the party actually shipping the products. This can become a sticky situation if someone paid good money for a delivery-damaged product, and you can’t easily refund their purchase or exchange the item.
If the products you sell will be coming from your own inventory, you’ll need to consider shipping materials and postal costs.
- Having boxes and materials to pack items safely will be a routine cost you need to figure into the overhead of every sale.
- Likewise, for postal rates…and these extras need to be fractionally figured into the cost of every item you are listing for sale, or you will accidentally short sheet your sales estimates.
Once you figure out where the products will be stored and shipped from, you need to lock down the (arguably) most important part: how the money flows from the customer back to you.
Step Two: How’s the Cash Flowing?
Processing payments for an online store is an easy thing in 2019: you need only a bank account and to be able to connect it to some established online portals.
PayPal is a well-established medium for online transactions and can be set up in minutes. Though the fees might be more than you like to pay for each transaction, it does create a transactional portal that can be used worldwide. When connected to your bank account, you can have cash in a matter of days using PayPal, and it allows you to process credit cards.
Founded in 2010, Stripe is a newer option, popular with many small business owners and online merchants. Using a relatively easy API connection, you can have Stripe up and running for your online store in a matter of minutes and be processing credit sales from anywhere in the world.Square offers a similar service and can likewise be an ideal payment processor for a small retailer, or second-hand salesperson. Square works well if you will have a credit card in hand to process for a sale, whereas Stripe is an online option.
Amazon Pay and Google Pay offer portals for merchants, and easy connectivity on platforms that are commonly used by folks worldwide. Depending on what type of goods or services you are providing, either of these or both may be smart options to be able to offer your customers.
Ultimately, 2019 is standing tall with many options for the payment processing you will do in virtually any situation. Many third-party options will have scalable, low cost payment processing as part of their offer.
You will need to identify which options best match your business model needs and implement them to accommodate your customers’ activities.
Step Three: Properly Putting It Out There
The obvious next step is making sure you have a solid listing of the product or service that you will be offering. Using a brief written description and images (when appropriate) or video, you will want to be able to position your offer among others, and have it shine.
Again, it will matter what kinds of specific products or services you are offering as to the actual best practices in displaying your wares. It might be a video clip; but more often currently, it might be a simple image and description. Think of a catalog listing, or maybe an auction listing on eBay.
Sometimes, it will mean using UPC codes and looking-up stock images and descriptions. If you were drop shipping items like shoes, sporting goods, clothing and the like, you could find online sources to provide you specifics, and not actually take the stock pictures yourself. Many affiliate programs provide product imagery, descriptions and pricing for their remote sales teams.
If you are offering second-hand or less common items, you will want to get clear and concise images and descriptions to put online. Simple and clean, always work well and a few tips will carry you far on any platform:
- Use a quality digital camera or even a phone – there is no good excuse to not be able to get solid digital images in 2019. If you have a smart phone, you can use it as many do. Look at the size of the images you are saving—too big, will eat up your memory quickly and too small won’t render clearly online.
- Use a solid color background – bring focus to the items you are capturing. Think of something simple, like a solid colored sheet or blanket.
- Match your audience expectations with multiple views – you will want to provide as many shots of your item(s) as needed to show it in its best light.
- Honest and accurate descriptions – when you are creating your own descriptions, be direct and clear. Be honest about the condition of your items and use simple language that is easy to understand. Some sales speak is going to be fine, but don’t overdo it.
- Create reusable templates – one great way to save time and build consistency, is to create some templates of listings you can reuse. If you have a nicely formatted listing you can simply sub in your new information and be good to go.