The online e-commerce industry is quickly approaching the $3 trillion dollar mark, according to eMarketer, and this is only expected to increase several times over in the next few years. The bigger question here, isn’t how many trillions of dollars will be generated from this industry––but if you will be a part of it?
Many of us are probably already making money online in one way or another––whether that be through running an online business, affiliate marketing, blogging, selling extra stuff online… or even turning your expertise or free time into additional revenue through freelancing and online courses.
With literally thousands of ways to make money online, it’s no longer a matter of wishing you went to the right university, or had six figures to invest in a new business. Instead, it’s about building an online business that makes sense and following through on your actions and end goals.
However, with so many options out there to choose from, many people get lost and aren’t sure where to start.
Launch an online e-commerce website
One of the hottest and most lucrative business models on the internet today is to have an online store or e-commerce site. This business model does exceptionally well because you are selling something and if you know how to target your audience, then you need to tweak and improve your site over time.
If this sounds like something you’d like to get started with, then you have come across a great resource article to help you get there. Today we are going to take a look at three different methods to take advantage of selling products online––which apply to anyone just getting started, or even those who might already have something to sell or some experience in this space.
1. Dropshipping – Find a product and start selling
There has been a lot of buzz about starting e-commerce stores and dropshipping sites over the past couple of years. This has mainly been fueled through the use of shopping technology like Shopify, and the ability to dropship products through AliExpress.
With this business model, there’s little overhead and startup costs, but there is fast-growing competition. For anyone with online marketing experience those skills can be used to drive traffic and sales to your online store. Reference a reliable e-commerce marketing guide to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.
For best results, look for products that aren’t as well-known or competitive. Instead, go after smaller niche markets that might have higher profit margins, which also allows for better customer targeting.
Takeaway: To launch a successful e-commerce store online, remember that it’s easy to get started and anyone can instantly get access to thousands of dropship products. Spend more time researching the process instead. It’s important to have a clear understanding of your ideal customers, what they want, and how you can cater to their needs.
2. Turn your offline business into an online store
Believe it or not, but many businesses are still focusing most of their efforts on selling offline and not offering their products to customers around the world. This is a huge mistake, as it’s very easy to create an online website that allows you to sell products individually, or in bulk to distributors, suppliers, or even contractors.
Believe it or not, many small businesses are still focusing most of their efforts on offline retail and not offering their products to customers around the world. That’s a huge mistake! It’s easy to create an online store and sell individual products or in bulk to distributors, suppliers, or contractors.
This approach works well if you already have an existing offline business that is raking in sales and acquiring new customers, but you really haven’t explored all of the online sales opportunities.
You probably already own a domain name and a website, for people to contact you directly. But are they able to directly place orders on your site? For many smaller brands that still focus their efforts offline, this simply isn’t the case.
If your business is successful offline, there is a pretty good chance it would do even better online. Once you identify demand, it’s simply a matter of scaling your operations and marketing efforts.
A good example is the Inline Design website–a company that sells stainless steel products. While it might not be the most exciting product line, there is definitely market demand. If you skim through their site you will also find a simplistic design, which makes it easy for customers to navigate. Upon further examination, the site ranks well for quality keyword and product related search phrases like “stainless steel railing” and “cable railing.” As many of us know, organic search is one of the best ways to drive high-quality sales leads to an e-commerce site.
By launching an online e-commerce store with the right online marketing campaign to support it, any company can reap the benefits of increased sales.
Takeaway: Every e-commerce website doesn’t need to look like a million bucks. Consider your target audience and their needs. At a minimum, focus on the product, product description, and pricing.
3. Acquire an existing online business and scale it
Another option is to acquire an existing and successful e-commerce business. There are many website business brokers and platforms that allow entrepreneurs to sell a website with a proven track record. However, you’re looking at purchase rates in the 20-40X monthly revenue range.
One site that lists these types of businesses is EmpireFlippers. Website business brokers take the friction out of buying and selling online businesses and some even offer free valuation tools.
The benefits of purchasing an existing e-commerce business versus starting a new one is that you won’t have to deal with the slow and frustrating process of launching a new online business. When you start from scratch, it takes time to build organic traffic and rank well in Google. However, if you buy an established website, you acquire its traffic and customers, which means you can start making sales asap.
Takeaway: There’s an ongoing discussion about whether entrepreneurship is a skill set you are born with or if it can be taught. Ultimately, business is business and if you want to own one, buying your way into an existing venture is a viable solution. This approach eliminates a lot of time spent learning the ropes.
Consider which e-commerce route works best for you
There are multiple ways to start an online e-commerce business. At the core of a successful online business is sales. This means you need a targeted audience, a quality product or service that offers a decent profit margin, and a strong marketing and sales strategy to build awareness. Merely going live with an online store won’t do anything, except waste your time and add more clutter to the internet.
To find online success ensure your website is backed by a real business model. Review the opportunities above, and consider what works best for you.
Zac Johnson is an entrepreneur who blogs at ZacJohnson.com. Follow his journey as he documents more than 20 years of experience and success in the world of online marketing and branding. Connect with @zacjohnson on Twitter.