Could You Run an Online Store from Home?By
Setting up any kind of business from any kind of location is no walk in the park. Many would argue that setting up a business from home is one of the hardest ways to go about it. (Although it should be highlighted that businesses are starting from home at an extraordinary rate these days!) But there are certain home businesses that are a lot harder to get off the ground than others. Copywriting, accounting, or consultancy businesses tend to be pretty feasible pursuits from a residential location. But something like e-commerce seems like a much less feasible business to try running from home.
When people think about e-commerce businesses, they generally imagine the giants of the industry such as Amazon and eBay. That, or they imagine the online branches of established brick-and-mortar businesses. The online store of Barnes & Noble, for example. They don’t usually think about startups that are run by a few people – or even just one person – from home. And if they do, they usually think about fraudsters!
Running an e-commerce business from home is definitely possible, and it can bring you a lot of success if you do it right.
E-commerce isn’t as easy as it looks
It’s a little foolish to assume that any kind of business endeavor is an easy one, but a lot of people seem to imagine that starting up an e-commerce business is just that. These days, just about anyone can set up an e-commerce website. You don’t even need products – you can just set one up using the same drag-and-drop website builders that made website creation so easy and accessible about a decade ago.
A lot of the businesses that offer e-commerce platforms and website builders want you to think that the e-commerce game is a pretty simple one that anyone can profit in with minimal effort and financial input. This mindset is what keeps budding amateur entrepreneurs coming to these sorts of websites, after all. But don’t fall for it. E-commerce is something into which you need to be willing to invest quite a lot of money and time. Don’t assume that it’s easy just because starting an e-commerce website has been made incredibly simple. Actually building, marketing, and maintaining the business remains as daunting a task as ever.
The WFH attitude
Working from home successfully requires the right approach. You need to have a specific approach – one that features drive and a lot of discipline. As anyone who works from home will tell you, the amount of effort that you need to put into your pursuit to get good results matches or even exceeds that of what people would think of as “regular jobs”. And when you’re actually trying to start your own business, the amount of time and effort you’ll end up spending every day will end up being a lot. (So make sure you don’t burn yourself out too quickly!)
We have a recent post about maintaining professionalism at home that you should definitely check out. Those who are looking to succeed in building an e-commerce business from home need to be as professional and disciplined as they would be at a company’s office – otherwise, there may not be much point in even beginning.
So what exactly do people sell from home? Or, rather, what can people sell from home? Thankfully, as long as the actual product is legal, you can sell just about anything in a home-based e-commerce business. Of course, it’s worth noting that there are certain kinds of items that people are more likely to be reluctant about buying from such a business. Food items, for one, don’t tend to sell too well from e-commerce businesses, unless the items are available in other trusted stores that people can actually walk into!
You need to think carefully about the sorts of products you want to sell from home. Primarily, you need to think about how feasible it is to actually produce these items – and how feasible it is to produce these items in the quantity in which you’re going to need them. A lot of people use home-based e-commerce stores to buy homemade clothing or makeup, something that’s quite easy to make from home. Of course, if you start to get very popular, then you may want to consider getting some help manufacturing those things!
Something that’s very popular for people who are starting e-commerce businesses from home is the sale of things that can be reproduced digitally. So if you’re selling e-books, for example, that’s an example of an item that you technically only have to create once, which reproductions being as simple as clicking a couple of buttons.
If you want to sell bulkier items from home, then your business will probably end up acting as a sort of intermediary between the buyer and the supplier. (This is actually how the vast majority of stores operate, after all!) The kind of people who want to start this sort of business from home are often averse to being a “middleperson” in this way. But if you’re looking to get a little less hands-on with your business at some point in the near-future, then this may be the path you want to take. Just make sure you know how to pick a good supplier from your online store items.
Thinking about fulfillment
When people think about online shopping, they think about lower prices, personalized recommendations, and supreme ease of use. But there’s always that one catch to online shopping that, while not exactly putting them off, tends to make them grumble a bit about the whole thing. We’re speaking, of course, about delivery. Despite the “lofty” promises that came with drones, we’re still not at the point where delivery from an e-commerce business is anywhere near instantaneous.
So people are, quite understandably, pretty picky when it comes to delivery times. The likes of Amazon are super quick when it comes to delivery. People aren’t necessarily going to expect you to match Amazon, of course. In fact, a delivery time of about a week is often expected from smaller e-commerce businesses. Still, you need to ensure that the entire process is done as quickly and safely as possible. UPS tends to be a trustworthy fulfillment provider for home-based e-commerce businesses, so consider using a UPS rate calculator to figure out what it will cost you to get your products where they need to go.
The right platform
Are you looking to start an entire business from the ground up, building your own e-commerce infrastructure? Or are you willing to use another platform and infrastructure to start selling your products? There are more options than ever if you’re planning on going with the second route, which is where a lot of home-based e-commerce business owners start. This can be the more cost-effective and quickest way of getting things started, but you need to make sure you’re using a platform that’s suitable for your business.
It’s not just a matter of picking one that has great customer reviews, stability, and trustworthiness – though, of course, you need to ensure the platform has all of those things! You also need to consider the suitability of your product for the chosen platform. There are platforms such as Shopify that attempt a one-size-fits-all platform. But let’s say you’re dealing in clothes, make-up, accessories – hand-crafted beauty and clothing stuff, basically. You might find that going with Etsy is a good bet, simply because that’s precisely where a lot of people who are looking for unique kinds of those items go!
If you want to start your own platform completely, then you should consider working with a web development agency that specializes in e-commerce!