Starting an ecommerce site on a shoestring is completely doable. Just keep in mind you’ll be trading time for money. In other words, instead of throwing money at every problem you encounter during the startup phase, you’ll spend time working through the issues you encounter yourself. Now before this prospect completely puts you off the idea, there are some things you can do to minimize the time expense as well.
Research, Research, Research
Before you charge off and set up a site, spend some time researching the product(s) you intend to offer, paying close attention to how they are currently being marketed. If you find you’ll be up against a behemoth like Amazon, or what you’re planning to offer is currently available from literally thousands of other sites, you might find better success with a more narrowly focused product targeting an underserved market.
Let’s face it, nobody’s good at everything. There are some things for which you’ll likely need to hire help. But rather than taking on the expense of full-time employees right away, look for freelancers who are willing to work on a project-by-project basis. Let’s say you need help writing product descriptions. Given the importance of this function to the overall success of your site, you’ll want to get someone really good at it. Rather than trying to wing it yourself, consult one of the many online sources of freelance help for this service.
Free eCommerce Software
There is an abundance of free ecommerce website software you can adapt to your purposes when you’re just starting out. The best ones are simple to use and require you to only add images, descriptions and details. They can also help you manage your inventory and organize your products. The best ones even provide for a degree of customization so your site can have a distinct look.
If you’re starting out with minimal capital, dropshipping can save you a number of key expenses. You won’t need a warehouse, nor will you have to spend money to buy the product before you sell it. Items are shipped directly from the manufacturer, which saves you from dealing with inventory management issues. Said succinctly, you serve as a middleman. You never physically touch the product—you only market it. If this sounds appealing, keep in mind your profit margin will be considerably slimmer and you’ll have very little control over how the product is presented to your customer when it arrives. Most startups look at this strategy as a good way to get their foot in the door of ecommerce. They then migrate to providing full service as they get their feet wet and can support the added effort.
6) Launch On An Existing Platform
Many people do very good business selling on Amazon and eBay. There are several advantages to operating this way. They already have lots of traffic, so your marketing burden is significantly reduced. Those sites are already designed, so all you have to do is move in. On the other hand though, if you’re looking to build a specific brand, this method will make it somewhat more difficult because in many cases your customers won’t know they’re buying from you. Still, if you have existing stock, this is a good way to generate revenue while building a following for your standalone site.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the most important thing you can do to be successful at starting an ecommerce site on a shoestring is develop a soundbusiness plan. This will get you started on a solid foundation and give you a much better shot at being successful. It also makes you take a close look at every aspect of your operation, which gives you an opportunity to fine tune issues before your investment capital becomes involved.