Bootstrapping Your Way To Launching Your eCommerce Business
by Milysan Troche, founder of MyHauteCloset.com
Launching a business can feel completely overwhelming, and it is far too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you donʼt possess the means or knowledge or have the slightest inclination on how to begin. After fleshing out at minimum a 1-3 page plan in order to assess your target demographic, price points of the items you wish to carry and overall branding voice of your business you will then need to focus on the nuts and bolts of bringing your ideas from concept to fruition.
Although it was once necessary to have significant capital to open a retail store with expenses including exorbitant monthly rent, lengthy retail space contracts, substantial overhead from staff, store layout and design, as well as a constant revolving monthly budget for new inventory, as well as allocating time and resources for training, loss prevention and best practices, to name a few.
All of the above costs can be completely avoided or drastically minimized by a bit of creative bootstrapping with minimal investment to launch courtesy of the world wide web. Below is a list of the key components necessary to begin your business venture.
Website & Hosting.
For as little as $9.99 and up you can register your domain name on GoDaddy.com. GoDaddy also provides business email, as well as yearly web hosting. It is best to purchase your domain and host with the same company as it streamlines the process and allows you access to customer support without having to unnecessarily have multiple accounts for each and keep track of multiple logins and passwords.
After registering your domain you will want to then choose your store platform. In order to keep expenses to a minimum your goal should be on using a web store builder which offers customizable user/mobile friendly platforms with back ends that you can easily plug in products, pricing, and images without having to be a coding genius. Shopify and Bigcommerce offer an excellent platform solution including built in shopping carts for a nominal monthly fee without having to employ someone to custom build for you for a nominal fee of $29.99 and up depending on what your unique business needs are. For on going site tweaks, including home page design or tech issues, opt to find a freelance web person who works on a small monthly fee as needed.
Sourcing product is often a cause for concern for potential business owners but there are options for acquiring product with little or no capital including consigning items, offering to sell mark downs and/or returned items or off season items from local retailers and showrooms or purchasing items in bulk for a hefty discount or percentage from soon to be defunct local businesses. You can also offer to sell items for local artisans who hand make their items but do not have the patience or savvy to sell for themselves.
These are just several ideas to begin to set your wheels in motion to creatively source product for your store.
Photography & Site Visuals.
There is nothing worse than stock photos or inconsistent imagery to turn away a potential consumer thatʼs ready to spend. Your imagery creates an impression whether favorable or not and it is not an area to skimp on. You can either elect to purchase a pre-owned DSLR camera and teach yourself basic photography and editing or you can advertise on CraigsList for a freelance photographer. Youʼd be totally surprised to see the wealth of talented photographers who are willing to work freelance to supplement their income ranging from $17-$25 an hour average.
Social Media Marketing.
Thereʼs no denying that we live in a very socially connected world and your next potential shopper is always just a click away. Join all social media platforms and be sure to post consistently with compelling imagery (candid photos and conversational messages work best in contrast to professional imagery with standard product descriptions on site). There are also sites that enable you to construct newsletters such as MailChimp by choosing a template to alert your shoppers of any new items or special promotions on site. The key is to stay connected! You can organically build your brand on social media without investing anything but your time.
With Global eCommerce sales topping $1.25 trillion itʼs no surprise that retailers with existing physical bricks locations and new would be retail business owners are clamoring to launch mobile friendly sites to serve the ever-growing global market. It has never been more possible to launch a small business and carve a small piece of the global internet pie for yourself, and best of all.. on your terms. Launching is just one of the many steps in your eCommerce journey as your business progresses you will revisit the above assessing where to allocate financial resources to facilitate growth and evolve your existing business.
Milysan Troche started out as a blogger and fashion expert who used her growing Instagram following to sell her clients’ gently used luxury clothing, shoes and handbags, which turned a nice profit. Soon this Instagram business became too large to manage on the social platform, so she launched MyHauteCloset.com where many of the luxury items for sale sell within minutes of posting.
This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.