How do I start an online thrift store? ‘I needed a way to earn money during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ Erika Zar, the owner of Online Affiliates, told CBS MoneyWatch.
Here are three simple steps that can make your life easier and possibly just give you a feel for what it’s like to run an online business.
First, look at the competition
It can be very difficult to generate sales online. You’re competing against a lot of competitors, says Teresa Krohn, an author, and keynote speaker. You don’t need to look at direct competitors, though. You should also do a quick look at the platforms you’re interested in running on. “If you haven’t done it before, you really have to do a quick Google search to see what others are doing and to get an idea of where you can fit in that industry.” Also, the platforms in question need to be easy to use. If the interface is difficult, “People won’t be willing to try it out.” Krohn says that if you’re able to own your own platform, you won’t have to deal with outside advertisers or downloads. It’s possible to open an online shop with no outside money; some people choose to do so to keep the costs low.
The more expensive your platform, the better the user experience will be, Krohn says. That means you don’t need to worry about getting that product shown up at the top of Google’s search engine.
Check out the quality of the option
Krohn says that shoppers don’t want to buy a good deal on “something that’s going to fall apart in a few months.” Ultimately, buyers look for a good brand at a good price.
“You want something that the internet is happy to show you,” Krohn says.
Follow a pattern
With an online business, you want to keep your monthly expenses lower than they would be with a regular career. Keeping track of them is always a good idea, Krohn says. As an example, if you are looking to start an online business, you don’t want to go out and buy new furniture to place in the shop. “You want to replace the flooring, the countertops, all that.”
When looking at online shopping, look at a lot of products: 10,000 might be a fun number. “If you just run out of space and you’re looking at furniture, you probably want to double it,” Krohn says. You don’t want to run out of cabinets in the early part of the pandemic, so consider buying things that you already have.
They’re more expensive than buying in-store
It’s not easy to gauge the cost of good services. “A space [in an online shop] can cost $12,000 and you sell it for $10,000,” Krohn says. After having customers tell you, you can choose whether to have Amazon pay the total cost and make it happen or set it up as an online shop, eCommerce marketplace like Shopify and they will help you. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify let you order your products from any company in the world, Krohn says.
To get started, you should price your products at a premium. To ensure you make enough to pay your bills and provide a great customer experience, you need to sell products at a premium.
Know your suppliers
In the early stages of an online business, you want to sell overstock items or things you don’t necessarily need. But the pandemic has spurred retailers to shift their inventory to get people back into stores. As a result, you have to know what you have coming in before people enter the store, Krohn says.
“It’s very important to know that you can’t sell an online product on any different model than a brick-and-mortar store.”
This article was written by CBS MoneyWatch contributor Lauren Weber.