How to Start An Online Store

Young man in a home office setting smiling at his laptop

Starting a business is easier thanks to greater online opportunities and the burgeoning “gig economy.” For many people, opening an online store has been a major success. Some 25 million people sell products on eBay’s marketplace alone.[1]

But the process is more complicated than putting your goods on a website and waiting for someone to buy them. Before you jump in, here are some of the things you need to know about how to sell your products online.

Learn the marketplace

Selling a product online requires some advanced knowledge about how online sales work to prevent missteps. Regardless of what platform you’re using — eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Etsy, or something else — you should become a customer before you attempt to sell your own products. This will familiarize you with the sales process and what to expect from it.

It can also help you because you’ll receive feedback online, which is important when starting a store. New sellers can sometimes have a harder time selling products because there’s no feedback letting buyers know what it’s like to deal with your shop. If you can use the same account to become a seller, try to get at least 20 feedback ratings as a buyer before you start to sell online.

Do market research

Just as with a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll be responsible for attracting customers and standing out from your competitors. The foundation of a successful online store is rooted in research to get an idea of what to sell online.

This is an important part of being an online seller. To evaluate what’s already selling, look at the list of top-selling products and get an idea of what’s happening in the marketplace. What are the high-demand, trending products consumers currently want? Do you have special knowledge about a particular industry or type of product? You may be able to leverage this background to tap into a niche market, which can help you expand your business.

Start small with just a few products

Before you jump in, many experts suggest starting small, perhaps by selling a few items you already have around the house. According to online selling coach Suzanne A. Wells, the average American has about $7,000 in merchandise lying around the house.[2] What items do you have that you aren’t using and can put up for sale?

Keep a business mindset

For your online business to be successful, it has to be taken seriously as a business. That means creating a business plan, setting goals, tracking what works and what doesn’t, and using market research tools to stay on top of trends and selling prices. If this process of selling is more than just a hobby, you should treat it as such, and that means keeping your customers happy.

A few negative reviews can hurt your selling rating, which is something to guard carefully. If you have a 95% seller rating but someone else has a 98% rating, regardless if their price is higher, people may pay the extra money because that higher rating appears more trustworthy and the higher rating makes buyers feel secure.

Protect your assets with insurance

As your business grows, you may want to expand your inventory to sell from a converted garage or even a rental storage unit. Many high-dollar sellers choose to keep inventory in another location after they’ve outgrown their closet, spare bedroom or other storage space.

Make sure your inventory and any business equipment are protected by insurance. Check with your Nationwide representative to see what kind of coverage is best for your small but growing online business.

[1] http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/ebay-stats/

[2] https://www.thebalance.com/suzanne-wells-3992444