With such a large increase in the number of self employed people based in the UK, many people ask what types of businesses are available to them? One such area to look into would be e-commerce.
The investment required to start an e-commerce site is minimal, just a subscription to Shopify at $29 per month, and you even get a 14-day trial without giving your card details.
Find your niche, work out your USP and find drop shipping suppliers before you sign up.
What is Drop Shipping?
Dropshipping is where someone orders from your store for £20, the order goes automatically to your supplier, and you pay £8; this is taken from your account automatically. You have made a £12 profit, just like that. The supplier ships the goods to your customer. You never see the order or the products.
As a drop shipping store you carry no stock, so you have no upfront cost, you have no cash tied up in stock, and there is no chance of being stuck with a garage full of tee-shirts nobody wants because fashion has moved on.
Finding Your Niche
Drop shipping is something a 12-year old could do so that you will have competition. Your e-commerce store is not going to be a multi-national with warehouses in every country. Think small, think about being the perfect solution for a distinct group of shoppers rather than just being another seller of the same old, same old.
Setting Up Your eCommerce Store
Shopify has dozens of templates to choose from. Find one that looks good on mobiles and don’t mess with the default arrangement because that’s the one that works best. Shopify makes money when you sell things, so it’s in their best interests to help you as much s they can.
You also need a blog and, most importantly, an About Us page. You need a blog, so you get found by Google and an About page because buyers want to know who it is they are sending their money to.
Your About page gives you a chance to stand out from the competition. People buy from people, even online, and they are more likely to buy from people they feel they know and like. That’s what your About Page does. You don’t need to pay someone £5,000 to write it because there are About Us page templates you can use to build it yourself.
Working Out Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
You should never make price your main selling point. No matter how you cut your mark up, there will always be someone else who can undercut you. Don’t go there.
Your unique selling point (or USP) could be a donation to a charity the customer loves, an entry into a draw or a personal phone call to say thank you.
Finding Drop Shipping Suppliers
AliExpress is one supplier marketplace you will be searching. However, not all suppliers are created equal, and you need to be careful to avoid being stung.
If your suppliers fail to uphold their parts of the deals, it’s you who will be tied to the pillory of public criticism on Twitter. This Oberlo guide to choosing suppliers is essential reading so you can learn from the mistakes others have made before you.
Marketing Your eCommerce Store
You have your Shopify store set up with carefully-selected products that are designed to appeal to a niche audience, but there are no sales.
E-commerce stores need promotion. You need to market your store to niche consumers. This is one reason to choose a niche you are familiar with: You know what those people care about, the problems they have and where to find them on social media.
Build your reputation with this group by commenting in Facebook groups, sharing their Twitter and Instagram posts. Buy your products yourself and then share photos of them in use. One unique and natural photograph is worth twenty photo-shopped stock photos from the manufacturer.
Putting it All Together
Is it easy? Yes.
Can anything go wrong? Yes.
An e-commerce store is a business, nothing is guaranteed, and you must work at it. Increase your chance of success by reading widely about drop shipping and e-commerce before you commit. Set up your store to serve the needs of a niche market whose members you know.
If it doesn’t work out, pivot your Shopify store, choose another niche, and you are all set for the second round. Changing your business niche is more difficult and more expensive if you have a lorry-load of products you must sell before you switch.
Start your research by reading this DumbFunded article that gives more advice on setting up your e-commerce store.