The truth behind starting an online retail business.
You may have heard from online gurus or marketing one-liner from online shopping cart providers that starting an online store is easy. But what's more true about these easy to make sites is that they look spammy and will typically make you zero sales. That's the truth you will not hear.
The visualization many people starting an online store that gets fed to them by some youtube gurus is that all you need is to go to Shopify or WooCommerce to create a store. Then find a store design, research the product you want to sell, add the products to your store, add a payment gateway, launch your store, test a few ads on Facebook and then you would have created a money machine. Uhm, no! That's what most people are fed, and they think will happen and why there's over a 98% failure rates even with people who have a great product to sell. So, what do you need to do?
The reality about starting an online store is that yes, it's freaking easy to sign up and have a store account. It's so easy you can create a store account with butt dialling. The reality with store design is that you need to choose the right colours for your brand, you need to create a logo that will set you apart, you must make sure your site is responsive on desktop and mobile. You need to create a corporate identity through graphics and banners, then integrate add-ons that will most probably cost you. All of this is just for the store design. So you'll already be spending money even before you have even gotten to the point of adding products to your store. Yes! You have to spend money like any other business to start or spend time learning how to do all the above. You won't learn them overnight. People spend over 150k on tertiary education for three years to learn how to do just the first step. Tertiary education - sigh! I still don't quite know where I stand on that yet so I won't go into that. Let me stay on topic.
The reality about researching the product you want to sell is that the product you think will sell is also being sold by hundreds of people and has already saturated the market. You need to calculate the demand and chances are that some people will not be willing to wait for the delivery because they can find it easier at their local supermarket. So basically don't sell stuff people can easily find in their local supermarket. Then once you find a winning product, you can never be 100% sure that the product will sell, so you'll have to test it.
Now that you have found a product, you then have to implement it. So here's the reality on that. You must first adjust the description and description of every single product. And if you have terrible pictures from the supplier or find terrible ones on the web, you will have to take photos of your own. So its either you learn photography really quickly or hire a professional to do this for you. If you are lucky to find good photos and all you need to do is adjust description - adjusting descriptions require copywriting skills. Writing a good description can be more time consuming than you think.
You have made it as far as doing your store design, found a winning product, and added products PROPERLY! And it's now time to launch your store. To launch your store successfully, you'll need to ensure that you have set up a payment gateway, Google Analytics, Facebook pixel, check if your tracking is working, add Google tag manager and many other tools. After you've added these integrations, you need to test and fix any issues that could prevent a customer from checking out.
You have a store! And now you have to start advertising it by testing out some ads. Here's the reality - no success is guaranteed. You may lose up to five figures before being profitable if you achieve it at all. You need to create ten advert sets and run them for five days at R50 a day, which equals R2500 to test one product with different audiences.
As mentioned, you will never have a 100% success rate. Selling online is a high-risk business. The money machine you think you have created is actually a little of a gamble. Creating a successful online store was never easy, and it will never be easy. While you have created your store, having multiple sales channels on established online marketplace platforms may help you generate revenue faster at the beginning than a stand-alone will.
Here are my thoughts on the truths behind starting an online business. Nothing is ever easy. So before you decide you will be the next Jeff Bezos, learn to appreciate the work behind the grind before jumping into your next big website idea. It will be hard in the beginning, but the way to get ahead is to start now. Fortune cannot aid those who do nothing.