How to grow a retail business online with no investment
‘The great resignation’ is a post-covid phenomenon that we keep seeing industry experts predicting will happen this year, with employees expected to continue to reject calls from their employers to go back to working from the offices. While some companies will continue to offer remote working in many cases, there will be plenty that will insist – leading to staff looking for alternatives, whether they decide to seek new employment, start their own business, or find another way.
Starting a business is a huge endeavour though, and while there are plenty of entrepreneurs that do make a success of their business, for each one that is, there are hundreds – if not thousands – more that fail. There’s a much quoted statistic that suggests that 90% of new businesses fail within the first year, and with around 80 businesses registered every hour in the UK in the first half of 2021, that’s a lot of disheartened entrepreneurs that gave up on their dreams.
How can I start a retail business online?
There’s a lot to do when starting any type of business, but if you’re starting with little to no capital, it can be tricky to know how to get started. In retail, that’s even more true, since buying stock requires a lot of capital, and without am existing business that can demonstrate trustworthiness, suppliers are unlikely to provide credit for you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get a retail business off the ground though – it just means that you need a different approach.
DropShipping is one of the ways that you can start a retail business online. If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’ll almost certainly have come across information about it, and maybe you’ve already disregarded it as an idea, because it sounds a bit too much like a scam, or like way too much work. There is a lot already published about it, and we’ve been working hard to try and counter some of the dodgy-sounding stuff, because DropShipping is a legitimate way to create a retail business, if you do it right.
If you’ve missed what DropShipping actually is, then a quick and easy explanation is required here. You, as the seller, don’t have any stock – so you’re selling products that you haven’t bought. Instead, when you sell an item, you immediately buy it from your supplier (usually including a small fee), and give your supplier the name, and delivery address. They then send the order directly to the customer on your behalf.
As a seller, the advantages of DropShipping are many, but include:
- You don’t need capital to buy stock up front
- It is low risk – if you don’t sell a product, you don’t pay for it
- It is relatively quick and simple to get started
- You can sell as many products as the supplier has in their inventory
- You can sell in different countries if you have strategically located suppliers
While you won’t be able to build a successful business without significant work on your part, DropShipping doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds – and you don’t have to be able to deal with suppliers from overseas. DropShipping marketplaces allow retailers of all sizes to access products from suppliers that are happy to work that way, and because our suppliers are all UK-based, they offer much faster delivery times than sourcing from overseas.
When you’ve signed up for Avasam, then you can choose what you want to source and sell. You can choose what to sell based on the target customer research you’ve done, or you can bulk source – pick everything from a category, or everything. You can sell products from just one supplier (of course!) but why restrict yourself? We’ve built Avasam to enable sellers to be able to sell from as many suppliers that list on the marketplace as they like, without any need for complicated setups to frustrate you, or for you to need a developer to make it work.
Once you’ve chosen what you want to sell, then you can move to where you’re going to sell those products. That might be your own website, or it might be marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or OnBuy. Ideally, you’ll have picked your sales channels based on your target customer, as well as the existing competition.
When it comes to your target customer, don’t be fooled into thinking that it is ‘everyone’. It is a common mistake that new retailers make, and although you might end up selling your product range to a lot of different types of customer, you shouldn’t try and appeal to absolutely everyone – you’ll end up being too generic in your tone, and end up appealing to no one.
After you’ve sourced the products for your business, and you’ve decided where you’ll be selling, you’ll need to start marketing your business. This is likely to include your social media accounts, but might also include paid ads when you have enough budget after you have started to make sales.
Is there an easy way to set up a retail business?
We’ve heard this question enough times that we knew that we had to do something about it. Which is why, together with our partners at BigCommerce, we’ve created an initiative that can provide exactly that.
Our Click To Launch initiative is for entrepreneurs who want to get on with the business of selling, rather than spending time doing research and worrying if the products that they have sourced will even sell. It is for people who want to source as many products in the category that they have chosen as possible, and to be able to get their website set up instantly, without needing to know code, or to spend hours choosing and editing a theme.
With Click To Launch, there are just a few simple steps to getting your store set up, with a stylish theme – and it takes less than 90 seconds for your store to be ready, and full of products from Avasam suppliers. Customers can start buying immediately, and since we (Avasam and BigCommerce) want your business to succeed, your first month is free on both platforms – meaning you really can launch your business with no investment.
What happens after I Click To Launch?
There’s a famous line from a movie: if you build it, they will come. Unfortunately, when it comes to building your online retail business, it isn’t as simple as that – customers won’t magically find your store. Using Click To Launch is just the start of the work you’ll need to do, if you want customers to come – but it is a great start.
When your BigCommerce store is set up with products from Avasam suppliers, you’ll need to start your marketing efforts. In terms of costs, you’ll want to make use of social media channels (posting on a social media account is free, after all!), not just sharing pictures of your product range, but giving potential customers reasons that they would want to buy them, and from your business specifically.
Choose your social media channels based on where your target customer is likely to be already – so, if you’re looking for customers that are under the age of 20, then TikTok is likely to be on your agenda, while if you’re looking for women over the age of 35, then Pinterest is likely to be more successful. There are loads of different ways to build your social media strategy, so dig into what is likely to work best for your business, and then keep adapting as you test and see what works.
With your BigCommerce store and your Avasam subscription, and your marketing efforts in check, you can start to expand your reach by selling on marketplaces. If you haven’t made any sales yet, and you’re looking at marketplaces, you can keep costs low by looking for marketplaces that only charge a commission after you’ve made your sale.
I’m ready to start my online retail business – how do I Click To Launch?
You can start your online retail business by heading to the Click To Launch page. As we promised, it is a fast, straightforward process, and depending on which steps you take next to market your business, it is possible to have your first sale within 24 hours.
When you’ve got your business set up, be certain to follow us on social media, so that you don’t miss updates about new suppliers and new products that are hitting the Avasam marketplace – we’re @avasamsocial on all the platforms.
What if I already have an online retail business?
Scaling an online retail business can be just as challenging as starting a new business from scratch – but DropShipping with Avasam can help existing retailers too, even if you’ve already got your website and sales channels set up. The problem with scaling a retail business is needing capital available to buy stock – and just like with new businesses, sometimes that isn’t possible. It isn’t always desirable either, particularly when the products that you’re considering are untested. By sourcing and selling from Avasam suppliers, you’ll have access to the inventory that you need, without needing to tie up your captial, and without the extra demands on your existing staff. It is easy to get started, and chances are, Avasam is compatible with your existing retail systems – if you have questions, get in touch.
Setting up an online retail business isn’t an easy way to create a new career, but if you’re prepared to put the work in, it is possible to create a successful business that can replace your current job. If you’re ready to hit the ground running, starting to sell without needing to do the preliminary research, our Click To Launch partnership with BigCommerce and Barclaycard is the solution. Get your business started today by heading to the Click To Launch page to sign up. If you have any questions, get in touch – collectively, our team has been supporting online retailers for decades, and we’re happy to help you too!