What Type Of Online Business Should You Start?
If you currently have a physical store without an online presence, you could be missing out on an unlimited pipeline of potential customers. The internet opens a second door to millions of customers, some that may be ready to open their wallets for your product. If your internet strategy is well designed, you will find the internet to be a perfect channel to tap into another revenue stream. Let’s say you have a local store that sells clothing or pet supplies or handbags or whatever and you want to scale up to compete with some of your communities larger stores…maybe even JCPenneys or PetSmart or Target. Can you imagine the price of having to upgrade your store to do so? Not just upgrading from a physical standpoint, but also as it relates to marketing…..both are huge investments.
Now let’s see how this compares with expanding your retailing presence onto the internet. The physical cost are mitigated as there will not be a need to rent a space, purchase store fixtures, pay additional insurance, etc.. The costs you are expected to pay will be web hosting, domain name(s), payment processing, in some cases, a website template and web design. If you decide to utilize an Ebay or Amazon store, most of those costs will be consolidated into one monthly payment making it easier to manage or track costs. At the same time, you will be able to leverage their advanced online presence, technology infrastructure, and marketing strategies. Granted, you will sacrifice some control of the complete design of your store and marketing of your items, but the ease of putting your store and setting up your online inventory is so much easier.
Piggyback The Big Boys
Although we have been talking about someone with a physical store and the benefits of developing an online presence, a need for physical inventory is not necessary to succeed with an online store. For example, you could write and sell ebooks via your online store or through a well-established marketplace such as Amazon. No need for a local store, inventory, POS, etc. You may have to scale back some of your profit, but Amazon’s amazing infrastructure, high visibility, inventory management software, and delivery process is second to none.
When I first started selling on the internet back in 2003, it was via Ebay and selling handbags. At that time, my wife and I lived in Los Angeles and were able to track down my wholesalers in the garment district. I built a strong core of wholesalers, developed quite an inventory, and had a solid shipping process. As good as my complete process was, the amount of time spent building and managing the process was high. Due to our wholesaling cost, we were able to make a good profit and pay our monthly bills/living expenses.
As time passed, and due to other factors that I will discuss in a later post, we transitioned to selling downloadable items such as software. Selling these items eliminated the need for maintaining a physical inventory and all shipping-related cost. The purchasing process was fairly simple: customer identifies an item, makes the purchase, receives a download link and then downloads the item. Basically a hands-off process for me which is what I wanted. My goal was to provide the best pre and post-sale support that I could….and I did.
Packaging Your Services For The Internet
If you currently have skills that could be packaged as an online service, then consider doing so. Software programming, web design, software engineering, app dev elopement, website security, software support are a few that come to mind. For example, if you are a software or PC support specialist, you may consider creating a website focused on your skill set, purchase a PC remote support tool, and offer a PC support package. If you currently have a PC support business, extending your services to the internet could be a great compliment to your business.
So, take the time to decide what best suits you or your existing business in terms of what you can offer online. Keep in mind, potentially thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of potential customers are waiting for you to showcase your business to them.