I used to think that starting an online store was not a reasonable option for most people, because of the cost and technical expertise required to set up a fully functional e-commerce site. This has definitely changed in recent years, and a host of new services and software now make it possible for relative newcomers to start an online store with little hassle, and sometimes in a matter of minutes. Just about anyone can now become an online merchant and sell products online.
Here are the basic steps necessary for people to start an online store:
1) Get the necessary licenses
You will need a business license, as well as a "seller's permit" from your state. When you get your permit, the state should also provide you details on how much sales tax you must charge for your state. In most cases, you are only required to charge sales tax for sales made to online customers located in the same state you are in.
2) Choose an e-commerce solution:
There are many choices, some quite expensive, but here are the easiest, most powerful, and reasonably priced solutions to start your online store:
Yahoo Stores: This is the solution of choice for many businesses. With a store design wizard, 24/7 support, and capability to handle up to 50,000 products, you cannot go wrong with Yahoo Merchant Solutions. There are 3 plans to choose from, based on how much in sales you expect to do each month. Plans start at $25.97 for the 1st two months. Click here for more.
Pro Stores: ProStores, an Ebay company, provides a turnkey solution that allows you to start an online store for a low monthly subscription fee that includes hosting. Stores are easily integrated with Ebay, Paypal, and major shopping comparison sites. You can also choose from 180 store templates if you want a professional look without having to hire a designer. Current specials include 1 free month of service. Click here for more.
Ebay Stores: Even if you don't plan to use Ebay as a primary channel for your sales, you should still consider having an Ebay store. The sheer amount of exposure you get from being on Ebay is staggering, and you will generate some sales by just being a part of this giant site. A great place to start for people who want to ease their way into selling online. Click here for more
Select from these 3 solutions and you won't go wrong. Everything you need to start an online store is provided in these packages, including secure transaction servers, inventory management tools, and more. You can't ask for an easier way to start an online store.
3) Decide what to sell
Most likely, you already know what you want to sell. Finding suppliers can sometimes take time. One good place to look is on Ebay, where you can buy many goods in bulk. Another good place to look for items to sell is Dollar Days, a huge wholesale distributor that also allows you to set up an online store based on their 30,000 products.
4) Promote your store
There are 3 things you should definitely do to promote your online store: