By Dean Burgess

5 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Starting an Online Retail Business


If you’ve been looking for the perfect side hustle or small business, you should consider opening an online store. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar retail setups, getting started with an eCommerce business is super simple, and super affordable. You don’t have to worry about rent and you don’t have to work set hours when you run your own online business. All you need to worry about are the following decisions and tips to help that business run smoothly.

Use Self-Serve Products to Set Up a Basic Online Store

Before you can start earning extra income selling products online, you need a site to host those sales. If your main concern is keeping start-up costs low, then a basic website builder may be the best option. You’ve likely seen commercials or pop-up ads for website hosting services such as GoDaddy and Wix, and these companies make creating your own online storefront pretty easy. With slightly customizable formats and plug-in offerings, you will be able to build a functional website in as little as a few hours, and the fees for hosting that site tend to be fairly low. Of course, if you have little web development experience of your own, creating a one-of-a-kind site for your small business, that also utilizes attractive graphic design principles can be tricky. So, if you have the available resources, you may want to move onto the next site development option…

Hire a PHP Developer to Create a Custom Store Platform

To be honest, hiring a freelance PHP developer is not cheap. Average hourly rates for these pros can range from $20 to $60+, but the benefits of using PHP code for your new ecommerce biz can be well worth the investment. PHP code is the most widely used coding language online, which means most sites you see are using this particular code. Someone who has experience developing sites with this code will be able to create a custom website for your online shop that is both user-friendly for shoppers and easy to update for you. PHP developers can provide you the back-end tools needed to fuel your small business website and customize a sleek, powerful site that will help your ecommerce efforts succeed. So if you decide to invest in a developer, be sure to look for one who is familiar with PHP code and also be sure that potential candidates understand the scope of your project, so you can make the most of his/her skills.

Stay on Top of Inventory and Shipping for Online Products

With an efficient, easy-to-use site, all you will need to worry about is acquiring the inventory needed to start selling online. Managing online inventory can be a complex and confusing process, especially for those new to small business. You have to take steps to keep your sales and inventory meticulously organized and you have to learn how to analyze sales data to keep inventory flowing. Many small businesses turn to inventory management software, so you may need to factor this additional, but necessary, expense into your startup costs. In addition to managing inventory, you also need to manage shipping options for the products you sell. To keep yourself competitive with other online retailers, you can look for free shipping practices that won’t take away from the bottom line for your new online business.

Or Drop Some of This Hassle With Dropshipping Instead

Tracking and managing inventory tends to scare people away from opening an online store. But you can avoid all of this hassle and still successfully start an ecommerce business. Simply start with a dropshipping business setup, which can be a really great choice for both new business owners and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. What makes dropshipping different from traditional ecommerce businesses is that there is little to no overhead and you don’t have to worry about inventory until a customer actually makes a purchase.  So what kind of products can you sell using dropshipping? Just about anything you can think of! Some of the most popular dropshipping products include apparel, drones, electronics and home decor, so make sure you leave some time to research current product trends to boost your sales.

Use Social Media to Market Products to More Customers

If you use the right ecommerce marketing strategies, you can promote your products with very little, or even no, additional costs. To get customers to buy your online products, you just need a way to show those products off. If you are pretty savvy with social media, or at least willing to learn, you can use Instagram to reach millions of potential customers and cultivate plenty of sales for your new business. Word of mouth and customer referrals can also be a great way to drum up business for your ecommerce site. Another creative marketing strategy is to offer free products. Just build product costs into the shipping fee, so customers are only “paying” shipping, and customers will feel like they are getting too good of a deal to pass up.

As you can see by now, starting an online store can be much easier than it seems. Once you know the basics, you have what you need to get your ecommerce business up and running. Just be sure to stay on top of research and marketing, as well as any tax changes, and you can enjoy the success of owning an online business.

Dean Burgess|  |  |