The beginning of a new year is for many entrepreneurs the time when they decide to set up their new business. This year is especially exciting for those looking to start an e-commerce venture, as the number of online shoppers is increasing steadily.
With this in mind we have outlined the three main steps to getting your idea off the ground and hopefully help a few people succeed as a result.
Step 1. Know what to sell.
Like with any business, it is crucial that there is a demand for what you want to sell. If the same product is available to buy from thousands of other websites, then you will need something to make people choose your store over your competitors. Entering a niche market on the other hand can be difficult, as you can never be sure whether the demand exists for what you are offering. Before you do anything else you should research your competitors and customers and make a plan of how you will make your shop stand out from the crowd.
Step 2. The website.
This is your shop window and your check-out point. It is crucial that customers can use it with ease, whether they know exactly what they want or are just browsing. Concentrating on making it look pretty may be a waste of time if shoppers are not able to effortlessly navigate between products and pages.
In order to start accepting online payments you will need an internet merchant account (IMA) and a payment gateway. You can get both from a payment service provider (PSP), although your bank can also open an IMA for you.
Step 3. Deliver the goods
Obviously if you want to sell anything online, you will need to be able to deliver it to your customers. Many existing e-commerce businesses have decided to use drop-shipping companies to help with that. The main reason for the popularity of such an arrangement is the fact that you do not need to stock anything yourself. Instead the drop-shipper takes care of that and they will also dispatch any items whenever you receive a successful order.
You may obviously want to control this part of your business yourself, which would mean either using the postal service or a courier, as well as holding the stock.
Either way you want the delivery to be as fast and as cheap as possible, otherwise the competitors could win over your customers.
As far as new year's resolutions go, starting your own business must be one of the most difficult but also one of the most exciting ones. Now is certainly a good time to join a growing number of online entrepreneurs as the shift from the high-street to the Internet is gathering pace.
Eva Grzybek works for PayPoint.net, helping businesses accept card payments online.
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