When it comes to making extra money, there are plenty of short-term side hustles that can provide a quick cash injection – such as completing online surveys or doing a stint as a mystery shopper. However, topping up your income doesn’t have to be a temporary thing. One option we’ve touched upon in the past is starting an ecommerce store, and this is something that, when done properly, can easily be turned into a long-term business. Here is a simple five-point plan for launching your own online shop.
1. Find your niche
One of the biggest differences between selling on eBay and starting your own store is the need for a niche. It’s important to find something that not only meets a consumer need, but also stems from your own personal interests. Be it sports gear or organic beauty products, the more passionate you are about your niche, the easier it will be to market your business. For inspiration, browse social media and check out the top selling items on eBay and Amazon within your chosen industry.
2. Create your brand
Every business needs a brand identity, and this is something that should be defined in the very beginning. There are two different aspects of branding to consider: the philosophies – or story – behind your business, and the visual elements that represent them. The first aspect will very much depend on your niche and how you want to present yourself to your target audience. Your brand name and logo should then be created with this in mind, and feature consistently throughout your website and marketing.
3. Get online
Once you have a clearly defined brand, it’s time to bring it to life by creating a website. Some things to consider when building an online shop are the layout, security, a domain name and payment gateways. Fortunately, this is not as complicated as it sounds, with companies like 1&1 offering a range of ecommerce hosting packages that come complete with ready-made templates, SSL protection and step-by-step instructions. The main thing to focus on is providing a user-friendly experience that enables customers to purchase the products they want as quickly and easily as possible.
Another of our favorites is Bluehost, where you can start a website for just $3.95 per month with a free domain name.
4. Work out the logistics
Whilst the bulk of your business will take place online, you still need to consider logistical issues such as stock and shipping. Whether sourcing from a supplier or making your own products by hand, you will need adequate storage space as well as a strategy for calculating how much to keep in stock at any given time. Equally, it’s crucial to look into different delivery options and factor this in to your pricing. For more information, check out this small business guide to e-commerce shipping.
5. Spread the word
With everything in place, it’s time to spread the word. Market your store both offline and online – hand out flyers on campus, tell your friends to tell their friends and tweet up a storm on social media. For an extra boost during the launch phase, you could also offer an introductory discount or free shipping as an incentive. If you wish to establish a sustainable business, it’s also necessary to work on a more long-term marketing strategy; more advice on both short and long-term marketing can be found here.