How to Set-Up an E-Commerce Side Business

One month ago I decided to learn Adobe Illustrator and today I have an E-Commerce side business (link to JRB Vectors). The following four steps detail thinking points for setting up a successful business to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

  1. Choosing what to sell

Arguably the hardest part of setting up an E-Commerce business is choosing what to sell. Since it is often easy to set up an account online and start selling markets can be over-saturated and hard to establish yourself in. My advice would be to pick something which is ideally passive and related to your current field of interest. For instance, if you’re a photographer or photograph as a hobby, selling digital prints on Etsy of your work would require the initial time investment of taking the photographs, editing them, uploading them and setting up your Etsy account; but after that it requires no additional work which makes it an ideal passive form of income. Sticking to what you know or are interested in is the way to go.

2. Picking your selling platform

What you decide the sell in the first step will determine which selling platform you use. There’s Etsy for artsy stuff, eBay and Gumtree for furniture auctions, Amazon for fixed-price sales and the option of setting up your own website. Considering your selling platform carefully could make or break your new side business. For example, selling refurbished furniture on your own website may garner little sales when compared to putting it on eBay.

3. Research the market

The primary question to ask yourself here is: is my product filling a gap in the market? Is your product different in any way? Is it offering something that others are not? Will customers choose your product over another person’s product? All of these are valid questions. If you’re offering customers the same thing that everyone else is, chances are you won’t get many sales because buyers will prefer to purchase off of sellers with more feedback who have been established longer. However, if you check out the market that you intend to enter, scope out the competition, and figure out what else you can offer customers, you should do well.

4. Know your audience

Maybe you went with an idea related to your field of profession? In that case your audience is likely to be people similar to you. Considerations to make would be is there a particular age range you are trying to appeal to? Maybe you went for something you do as a hobby? Are you then trying to target an audience of hobbyists or break into the professional market? It is far easier to know your audience when they have a similar demographic to yourself. If your audience is different to yourself it may be worthwhile doing a survey… most social medias will allow you to create polls which can be used to better assess the requirements/ wants of your target audience. Another point worth talking about is what social media do you intend to use for promotion? LinkedIn is good for professional networks but it will take a while to build a substantial network. Facebook is good if you want an audience of local people. Instagram is great if you’re selling something which has a good aesthetic but is fairly competitive. I would recommend building your sales and developing good feedback however, before paying for any promotion.

I hope this advice helps you get from thinking about setting up and E-Commerce business to actioning it. If you have any thoughts about the subject feel free to leave a comment below.

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