The inability to easily distribute products has hampered most new entrepreneurs.
According to Curtis Mitchell, Director of Business Development at ShipStation, home-based and other micro-businesses no longer need to be relegated to transcription services, freelance writing, or some type of consulting.
Mitchell argues “Given advances in technology, it’s entirely possible to setup and manage an eCommerce business from the comfort of your own home or small office.”
Mitchell uses as an example that an individual has a product picked out that he or she believes is an ideal fit for the business. For example, perhaps the product is on the upper end of the pricing scale (so it can be marketed as a premium item), is light and not too bulky (minimal shipping expense), and is physically durable or engaging enough to not likely be returned.
Creating a Professional eCommerce Site is the first step: Setting up a successful eCommerce site no longer requires an individual to possess highly technical or advanced coding skills, nor do you need to hire someone to build the back-end of your site. Various platforms, such as Shopfiy, exist that allow a would-be entrepreneur to build a clean and efficient eCommerce site quickly and inexpensively. Such platforms allow the nascent company to list thousands of different items, upload pictures, and process transactions through a secure interface.
These cloud-based platforms enable the entrepreneur to manage the product mix, pricing, and other information in real time. This type of flexibility means the company can offer sales at any time, or announce offers such as free shipping which can drive orders.
To help in the marketing, it is possible to pull a considerable amount of data from the more sophisticated eCommerce solutions, data which can be analyzed and used to feature or remove products, alter pricing, or even change your entire branding strategy.
Product Acquisition and Inventory Management is the second step: Unless the individual is literally making the product in-house, a supplier is needed.. This step requires a considerable amount of research to insure the supplier can meet demand and produce high-quality products that will meet or exceed customer’s expectations. Thankfully, most times, this effort can be conducted online, from initial meetings to video chat product demonstrations where the product can be seen in action. Skype and other similar services are available to conduct free meetings with potential suppliers.
There are great stories about big companies such as Hewlett Packard starting in garages. In today’s world there are alternative solutions.
Manythriving small business owners have turned to a powerful and feature-rich multi-channel, multi-carrier shipping solution. Such a solution offers easy-to-use automation features, batch shipping, returns management, buyer communication and much, much more. By taking over this part of the company, the entrepreneur has more time to focus on promotions and brand building, while keeping more of the profits where they belong.
Attracting Customers: These cloud-based distribution solutions also include an email contact management component. This application stores all prospects, handle unsubscribes, and allow the entrepreneur to see detailed metrics on open rate and what links were clicked. Again, the beauty of such solutions is you can create quality email content and segment your customers within minutes.
For the other pieces of running a business such as accounting, taxes, payroll management, managing transactions and myriad other tasks, these services again come to the rescue of the home-based eCommerce business owner.
There are many low-cost options available to meet other needs in managing a micro-business: Among them are:
- a service that can help manage the changing sales tax collection standards for every state and also provide you with data on annual tax liabilities.
- Payment processors such as PayPal feature dashboards which allow for better control of the account and quickly see payment activities.
Mitchell points out that as with any home-based business, a successful eCommerce site requires diligence. It’s easy to be distracted during the day, but those who stay focused on their eCommerce business will be able to manage their site content, establish sales or promotional events, and send out promo emails with just a few mouse clicks.
“Success in business comes to those who are well prepared, so choose your technology tools wisely. Pick solutions that introduce efficiency and cost savings in order to give you the greatest chance at building a thriving eCommerce venture, he (she) adds.
Curtis Mitchell may be reached at ShipStation.com.