Launching an online business, or e-commerce, has never been easier than in the past ten years. There are fantastic resources available that allow for the seamless development and operation of e-stores. For example, in 2017, working only nights and weekends, I was able to launch an online shop for apparel and accessories in just a couple of months. And today, given the COVID pandemic, with the difficult job market and the need for social distancing, e-commerce has become particularly opportune. It is a great time to be your own boss and become an e-commerce entrepreneur.
Setting up an e-commerce doesn’t require technical skills. I had never coded or designed a website. Still, I was able to set up my e-store completely on my own. Platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce and Wix provide you with the complete toolbox needed for your e-commerce, including awesomely designed templates, integrated payment methods, SEO best practices, storage, analytics and much more. To develop your website, they operate intuitively and all you need to do is tick boxes and drag-and-drop sections and images. They also integrate with several useful management apps, which help you with marketing, CRM, logistics and all other aspects of running the business. Finally – and very importantly – these platforms are quite affordable, with plans starting as low as $10 per month.
In terms of supply chain – assuming you will be selling physical products – our lives have also been made easier by fulfillment and drop-shipping companies, like Printful, SPOD and CustomCat. Through these, you can automate the supply management of the business, from sourcing and production to distribution. Not only that, but depending on what you sell, you can set up your business with no overhead or inventory costs and have your products be manufactured and shipped on demand, one by one, as orders come in.
The beauty is that what’s left is what the majority of entrepreneurs would consider to be the most pleasant side of any business: value proposition, strategic positioning, product-market fit and design, marketing, and customer relationship. In my case, for the most part, I developed the business concept and worked on the strategy and marketing. My partner, who was a fantastic artist, took care of product designs. Other parts of the business, from video animations, to product copy and press releases, were outsourced to freelancers from websites such as Fiverr and Upwork.
Finally, there are plenty of free resources out there to help you refine your idea and assist you in running a successful e-business. For example, pick a few e-commerce podcasts to listen to, such as Shopify Masters and Ecommerce Fuel. Read relevant blogs such as Digital Marketer, Get Elastic and Practical Ecommerce. This article on customer value optimization (CVO) is a great place to start thinking about your business.
If you have a workable idea for a product or service to sell online, this is the time to pursue your startup dream. Let’s get to work!
Image: creative common.