- In the last couple of years, Ecommerce has become a very exciting space. Older Ecommerce platforms were really complex, really expensive or both. The software has finally become affordable enough for anyone to open up their own store. Now a days, you can set up an Ecommerce store in a number of hours and sell just about anything. Because there's so many ways you can build and market your store, it's worth thinking about your business model before you start thinking about the specific software you're going to use. Someone with a full time job and sells an Ebook on the side, has very different needs than someone who has a hundred thousand dollar budget, 40 hours a week and wants to process hundreds of orders a day.
There aren't any right answers when it comes to Ecommerce. Everyone is in a different situation and needs to make the best decision for themselves. The first thing you need to do is pick an area of interest. This can be anything you want to look into. It could be a hobby, like running, video games, sewing. It could be a passion of yours. Or it could be an industry, like home automation. Once you pick an area of interest, you want to explore the different ways you can sell products. There are two very broad types of products, physical and virtual.
And each of these have several different business models you can explore. The standard Ecommerce model that we all think of is selling physical goods. If you're into yoga, that could be yoga mats, yoga clothing, yoga props, etcetera. There are thousands of different types of products you could sell just within the yoga industry. If you're interesting in selling physical goods, the next step to think of is how you're going to acquire products, where you're going to store them and how you're going to fulfill all of those orders. One option is to create the goods yourself.
If you have a skill, you can create all sorts of products from scratch. Creating the goods yourself is a cheap way to get started, but it is time sensitive. Many store owners want to grow their business and it can be hard to scale a business that relies on your time to create the products. Another option is wholesale/resale. Wholesaling involves buying a large amount of products from a manufacturer and then reselling those products. You make money by selling with a markup. These business' are harder to get started because you need some capital to make your initial order.
On the plus side, they're much easier to scale because it doesn't take much time to get more products, you simple re-invest your capital. A pretty popular option that has been getting a lot of attention on blogs and pod casts is drop-shipping. Drop-shipping is where you take orders on your site and send that information to the manufacturer or wholesaler and they send the products to the customer. This option doesn't require a huge investment and it usually requires very little interaction with a customer. If you can find a drop-shipper for products that you want to carry, this is an excellent place for a business owner to start.
The down side of drop-shipping and wholesaling is that you will definitely have to do marketing to separate your store from the competition to sell the product. Another option is to manufacture products. You can contact a manufacturer and work with them to create products which you'll sell directly to the customer. Some business' that start out making products by hand, will later move to manufacturing. This can take quite a bit of time, effort and money to set up. You should make sure your products will sell before ordering a thousand units. We'll look at ways to validate that you'll be able to sell your products before placing a big order in a future lesson.
So far, we've only really touched on physical products, but that's obviously not the only things you can sell. You can also sell virtual products that don't take any space. These could be books, software, or membership to a website. Virtual products can take a while to create, but one they're ready to sell, they can be sold over and over again with very little upkeep. You can publish your own Ebook on Amazon and you can even create a physical copy via Create Space. Or, you can sell your book on your own website. Some authors, like Nathan Barry, have fine tuned this process and sell their books with bonus material and charge a premium.
If you are a trusted voice in an industry, you can use your reputation to sell products. With affiliate marketing, you recommend a product and when someone buys it, you get a commission. You have to bring traffic to your site, so people can find your recommendations, but once people are on your site and they start clicking on your affiliate links, you start getting commissions and don't have to do anything to fulfill the orders or deal with customer support. Affiliate marketing takes time to build income because you need to have compelling content so that people find your site and keep coming back.
Once you decide how you want to make money online, you have to start looking at who you're going to sell to. There's a big difference selling to yoga practicioners and selling to yoga instructors, even if it's the exact same product. Deciding on who you're going to sell to will determine your marketing and business model, but should only be done after you have an idea of what you want to sell.
To start, you need to understand the market for your product or service so you can build your website around it. So Patrick Rauland kicks off with some key questions that will help you define your audience and organize your products. He'll then help you set up a payment gateway with PayPal or Stripe, ship orders, collect taxes, and secure sensitive data. And if you weren't convinced already, Patrick reviews the benefits of WordPress ecommerce tools as well as a selection of third-party tools that integrate beautifully with WordPress. Plus, get bonus tips on marketing your new website: attracting and retaining customers and increasing the value of the average order.
- Defining your audience
- Organizing your products
- Marketing your WordPress site
- Increasing average order value
- Getting paid
- Checking out with PayPal or Stripe
- Managing and shipping orders
- Collecting tax
- Protecting sensitive data
- Using WordPress or third-party platforms for ecommerce