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OTHER ITA SITES:
10 Essentials Of Starting And Operating A Successful Online Retail Business – Part III
1) Accounting – Keeping track of revenue and expenses is a must. You can hire the services of a professional but in the early stages of your online retail business – you might not want to spend the money. There are several easy to use accounting / bookkeeping programs on the market today. It will be worth your money to purchase one and learn accounting basics.
2) Analyze the numbers – When you’re starting your business – you’ve got to decide on an acceptable profit margin. Your profit margin will help you determine prices. Put simply, your profit margin is the difference between your revenue and expenses. This information is important for helping you determine how much money you’re willing to work for, which items are profitable and which are not.
3) Don’t spend it – When starting out – don’t waste precious money on unnecessary items. Don’t order a bunch of t-shirts with your business name on them. Only purchase items that are essential. For example, even today I refuse to purchase shipping labels. Using regular postal services, I’ve determined it’s less expensive to print shipping labels on copy paper, cut them out and tape them on the packages. This may seem silly or cheap but these types of costs add up in the long run.
4) Learn some HTML – Although I recommend hiring a professional to create your store in the beginning – it will be worth your time to begin learning HTML – the basic computer language used to make web pages. Often, you’ll want to make simple changes to the look and feel of your online store. You won’t want to hire a professional for everything as it will be quite expensive over time.
5) Inventory – Don’t be one of these people who buys a ton of merchandise and gets stuck with it. I’ve known people to get excited about an online retail venture – purchase a truckload of merchandise – only to end up storing it in their garage. Keep your inventory to a minimum while you’re starting out. It will be a much better problem to need products due to good sales than have a bunch of junk nobody wants. Also, if you do end up with extra inventory that’s not selling well – sell it on Ebay for deeply discounted prices. It’s better to take a loss on a product – recouping precious cash flow – than sit on a non-selling product.
6) Research – Ebay is a great place for research and testing the water with various products. When you’re exploring the internet for products to sell – take a look at Ebay. You’ll be able to tell which products are selling, how much they’re selling for, etc. Use this information to help you determine your pricing strategies, which products to sell and more. Also, don’t be afraid to offer a product for sale simply because someone else is already selling it. You might be able to offer the public something extra (like great customer service).
7) Returns and Exchanges – All online retail businesses will receive returns and exchanges. If you don’t – you must not be selling much. Ebay is a good place to auction off merchandise that’s been returned or exchanged. However, don’t get caught up spending too much time with this.
9) Credibility – When you’re online retail business is new – you’ll need credibility in order to entice customers to purchase your product. Perhaps the easiest way to get credibility is through the Better Business Bureaus online reliability program. Although it will cost some money – it helps customers to be comfortable with your store. Also, make sure your online store is using secure checkout. Without it – you’ll scare off potential customers.
10) Website Analysis – Walk through the purchase process on your website. Check for little things that might keep someone from purchasing from you. Have other people do this as well. You’ll be surprised at the number of little things causing you to say “I wouldn’t like that if I were purchasing from here.”
To be continued…
E Lawrence Welch
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