Everything You Need To Know About Ecommerce (But Are Afraid To Ask)

4 Things Every First-Time Online Store Owners Should Know

The eCommerce world has always held a compelling allure, but its appeal has grown so much stronger since the COVID-19 pandemic brought chaos into our lives.

While brick-and-mortar retail has suffered under lockdown restrictions and a general reluctance to cluster in cramped spaces for anything other than essential supplies, online retail has flourished, raking in massive profits from customers who might previously have avoided it.

But eCommerce hasn’t only succeeded in attracting customers. It’s also thriving at attracting sellers. More and more people have taken the plunge of starting their own ecommerce businesses, determined to take ownership of their career paths and establish income streams that aren’t dependent on the loyalty of all-powerful employers.

Maybe you think eCommerce sounds intriguing as a professional pursuit but haven’t viewed it as a serious option because you just don’t know enough about it. You don’t want to embarrass yourself by getting in over your head, of course: it’s a natural concern.

To set your mind at ease and prompt you to give it a try, we’re going to cover the few things you need to know about eCommerce, but might be reluctant to ask. Here we go:

You don’t need programming knowledge to start a store

Maybe the biggest point of uncertainty people have concerning eCommerce is about technical expertise. Not knowing much about how websites are made, they can assume that merchants need to manually create the code for their stores – and for someone who knows nothing about programming (this describes the average person, of course), that’s a good reason to move on.

Why not simply ask about it? Because people don’t like revealing their ignorance about key topics like technology. In truth, though, you don’t need to know anything about coding to start an eCommerce store.

There are beginner-targeted eCommerce platforms that allow you to put together attractive store designs through simple drag-and-drop interfaces, and walk you through all the required steps to get your store up and running. No tech knowledge? No problem.

Dropshipping lets you sell without stocking anything

Now hugely popular, dropshipping is a smart way to sell that limits your financial risk. Here’s how it works: you select some products from a third-party supplier, list them in your store, then pass any orders that come in back to that supplier for processing and fulfillment. You don’t need to buy and stock those products first. You don’t actually need to do anything with them.

That means you don’t need warehouse storage space to try eCommerce. You don’t need to negotiate with suppliers, test product samples, and commit your savings to a business that might not pay off. You can create a store and practice selling through a dropshipping service like Oberlo, allowing you to learn the fundamentals of online retail in a safe way.

Once you’ve shown that you can bring in some revenue through dropshipping, you’ll have enough experience to start trying conventional online retail with stocking and shipping items yourself. That’s when you can start making better money if you know what you’re doing.

If you own a laptop, you can afford to attempt it

Another common concern is financial in nature, with budding entrepreneurs assuming that they can’t afford to get into eCommerce. Well, we just looked at how dropshipping can massively reduce expenditure, and using simple e-commerce platforms makes it possible to run a decent small-scale store for the cost of running a typical blog.

It would be silly to say that anyone can afford to try eCommerce, but if you have a laptop and an internet connection, then you have everything you need. If you can achieve some success with a simple store, you can put the profits back into the store and start figuring out how to grow it.

Keep in mind that the internet is packed with free resources (like this one – here are some others) offering eCommerce advice, so you don’t need a business degree or a training course.

Succeeding is hugely difficult, and most attempts fail

Lastly, though eCommerce is definitely worth trying, you should know that it’s incredibly hard to succeed through selling online. It’s so accessible that it’s an intensely competitive field, with countless stores fighting over narrow niches and looking desperately for ways to get ahead. If you can’t find some way to stand out, your store will never be a success.

Indeed, most stores fail. They either never make any sales or they receive so few orders that they can’t afford to continue. And that isn’t just people’s first stores: it’s all stores. So if you opt to attempt building an eCommerce business, know before you begin that your chances are slim.

You’ll need to put all your energy into getting everything right, but also have a plan for what you’re going to do if you can’t achieve success. And the vital action, if you don’t build a hit store, is to learn from your failure. If you don’t, then every attempt you make will lead to the same result, wasting your time and money.

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