Getting Started with Selling Online: Tips and Resources to Get You Going
Last year, Business Insider forecasted that U.S. consumers would spend $385 billion online and it projects that, by 2020, this figure will have grown to a whopping $632 billion. Online sales are dominating, which is why now’s the best time to think about creating your own e-commerce store, whether you’ve got an existing business or you’ve found a niche you want to tap into.
As with all businesses, there are a number of things you’ll need to do to make sure this next venture’s success. Below you’ll find some handy tips and resources to get you started:
Create a Business Name
Now you’ve decided what you’re going to sell, you need to consider what business name you’re going to use. It needs to be memorable, unique and compelling. Check that this business name isn’t already in use before registering it – this will happen automatically if you apply for a corporation or LLC.
Secure Your Website and Domain Name
Hopefully, you’ll be able to buy a domain name that’s exactly the same as your brand name, or is at least relevant to the products/services you’re selling. Choose an URL that’s easy to remember, spell and say, avoiding any complicated, long-winded URLs that won’t make sense to the average customer.
For example, if you were setting up a dog grooming business, you might have your business name as Dave’s Dog Grooming, but if the URL DavesDogGrooming.com wasn’t available, you could try DogGroomingByDave.com, instead.
Next comes the design of your e-commerce site and this can be where the expenses start to add up. However, it’s crucial that you get the design right, creating something that’s easy to navigate but appeals to your customers. Make sure it remains in line with your brand image, perhaps even adopting a ready-made e-commerce store through an online platform provider.
Register Your Business
With all of this in place, you’ll need to make sure your business is legal, which means registering in accordance with your business structure. These are sole proprietor, partnership (when you’re going into business with someone else), LLC or corporation.
The IRS will automatically consider you’re the sole proprietor or are in a partnership if you don’t choose to become an LLC or corporation. Always remember that by becoming the sole proprietor you’ll be putting your individual assets, e.g. your house, at risk. Being an LLC or corporation means your assets are completely separate from your business, and you’ll also get a number of other tax benefits too.
It’s also worth remembering that you’ll need to get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) in order to file your business taxes and to open a business bank account. This acts like the social security number for your business and is a unique number that allows you to file all the relevant paperwork needed for your company. Regardless of whether you have employees or not, your business will require this.
Get the Right Permits and Licenses
Even though you’re operating your business online this doesn’t mean you’re exempt from certain rules and regulations. The relevant licenses and permits you require will depend on your state, county, and city, and you’ll need to get these approved prior to your business being established.
Start Selling Through Different Avenues
In a lot of cases, diversification is the key to succeeding. That’s why many brands will operate with a number of different revenue streams. And this is made easy because a lot of modern consumers aren’t fussy where they buy their products from, whether it’s through a recognized e-commerce store like Amazon or through your own company website.
The only thing a customer is specific about is how convenient their shopping experience is. And the route to convenience is to be in all of the preferred places your customers like to shop. For example, becoming a retailer that’s winning the Amazon Buy Box could put you in front of your closest competitor. Or, selling your products/services through online social channels like Pinterest and Facebook could propel your brand to success.
Market Yourself from the Early Stages
Even if you’re still in the process of getting your website up and running and you’re getting to grips with your e-commerce platform, it’s crucial you start marketing yourself straight away. Start producing content for your blog and create social media pages for your business. It’s ideal to do this now while you’re quieter, building up content that you can continue to post once your business gets off the ground.