One great aspect of the storage business is that we are able to build up a very personal relationship with our storage clients. As our clients use our facilities, going about their business we are able to develop a good understanding about the ups and downs they are experiencing. We find time to do so, and they are only too happy to talk to us.
Equally encouraging is the way in which new clients have come into our lives recently, bringing with them new start up ideas and defying the odds of the economic hardships many are facing. When we politely ask about their ventures, we are not surprised to hear that many of them are new online startups. These entrepreneurs are using our storage units for the distribution of their stock, and in a sense, we are there to help where we can.
At Stop & Store we decided to do a little research of our own as this is a trend that is likely to explode in the future, and storage units play an integral part in the chain of an online business.
Setting up an Online Business
What intrigued us is the resilience of people when faced with a retrenchment or having to be furloughed for a time. What we learnt is that even under these bad circumstances there has rarely been a better time to set up an online business. Many entrepreneurs have chosen to convert their hobby into a business. They talk with passion and enthusiasm about how they are able to broaden their customer base through the internet.
While starting an online business can seem like a huge mountain to climb, the tools you need are simple. It basically takes a computer and an internet connection.
To progress to the next step, you’ll be pleased to know that almost no technical experience is required. These days everything is accessible in the form of tools and templates to help build your online profile.
Once you have the design of your website sorted, you will create product listings for it. Then you will have to consider the process of buying, storing, and shipping the products you will be selling.
What About Trending Products?
Not everyone has a hobby they can turn into a business. Our research tells us that the chance of online success is greatly increased if you are in a niche that is currently trending, and you are selling something that people really want.
There are two options here, firstly sell on behalf of someone else (called dropshipping) or if you have the money, go about developing products in one of those trending niches.
The advantage of dropshipping is that you don’t have to carry stock. Basically, you are selling someone else’s product through your website, online. The shipping is done by a distributor on your behalf.
The advantage of doing business like this is the speed and ease in which you can get established. You are the marketing agent for someone else. Your profit per item might well be smaller, but you have fewer hassles.
Developing your own Products
Many of our clients who have done the hard yards and developed their own products tell us that it all starts with research.
So, what’s hot right now? Look at the following and see what grabs your fancy:
Travel accessories, Health and beauty products, Smart watches, Health Care, Skin Care, Hobbies and Crafts, Lamps and Shades, Mobile Accessories, Pet products, Fine jewelry, Sleepwear
This sounds like a big cross section of products, but it will give you an idea if you want to do your own thing instead of dropshipping on behalf of someone else.
Whether you choose to convert your hobby into a business, develop your own products, or dropship on behalf of someone else you need the same steps to get going.
Perhaps you are already doing some business at the farmer’s market or into local shops, and now would like to take the next step into the big wide world.
So, get ready to create your online store and make online money from the comfort of your home office. Perhaps start with a platform like WordPress, it simple to follow and easy to use.
- Got the name of your business?
Good, now simply buy the domain and get a hosting package. A dotcom name sounds less local, so try for that.
- Install WordPress, its free
Here your hosting provider can assist you with the installation. Once you have configured the settings select a theme that is consistent with the product category you are selling.
- Install your e-commerce platform
Again, there are free platforms you can customize to suit your requirements. One like WooCommerce can help you create product pages, receive payments, and help with some selling strategies and extensions to get customers and promote sales.
- Get a Gateway like PayPal
You need a secure gateway to accept payments, so research what is available. Compare fees, read up on security, and read reviews.
- Now the exciting stuff: your Products
Take photos of your products and write exciting descriptions for them. Read up on how to do this best, so that your products stand out above others. Remember there is a lot of competition out there. Load them on your product page.
- Complete your Website
It is as important that the whole website looks professional, and you have landing pages filled with copy that contains relevant words for search engine optimization. An “about us” and FAQ’s page are a must.
- Create extensions
Once you’ve got to this stage, you have to get yourself “out there”. You’ll need extensions — which are add-ons designed to give your online store greater functionality and wider options. WooCommerce has a marketplace of extensions to assist you.
- Now it’s time to reach out
Research SEO strategies best designed to attract customers. This is the fun part of expanding your customer base. Use google tools that are available to you and finetune your wording to be relevant.Oh, and all the time, we at Shop & Store will keep your stock absolutely safe and ready for you to distribute when you start generating sales. Remember we are your secure partner in storage and take all the hassle away from you at a price which is a fraction of having to rent formal premises elsewhere.
Call us at Stop and Store at 01502 580005 or visit us at 92 Demark Road Lowestoft, NR32 2EH