It wasn’t that long ago that selling products online and setting up a store was a long, frustrating process. If you were not being handed a template from an affiliate manager, you had to register a new domain, set up hosting, attach a payment processor, install necessary scripts, test and retest, fix glitches, etc. It could take days or and sometimes weeks before you could go live.
When Shopify came on the scene almost anybody and everybody could set up an online store in a few hours and begin making money within a day or two.
Going on the presumption that you don’t have a niche in mind, your first task in setting up a Shopify store would be to choose a market. Yes, you might already have that market on your radar screen, but you should do some market research in order to make sure the market is likely to be profitable.
To get some ideas, you can put in a query in the search engines and take look at various posts on the topic like What Are The Most Profitable Niches In Affiliate Marketing.
Another source is Internet Retailer. They have a section that gives information about what is currently selling and the markets are trending.
Here are some guidelines to determine profitability when selling products online:
- You need a reliable source. Your products should be easy to obtain either from a wholesaler or some other source. If you have to wait weeks to get your inventory up to speed it’s doubtful that you can become profitable in this market.
- Is your product something that will inspire repeat business? A niche where customers will return to buy from you in the future is ideal. Health products are good for this. Remember that it cost considerably less to sell to a recurring customer base than to find new ones.
- One rule of thumb is that your margins should be at least 20%. A lot of new sellers want to concentrate on electronics, but the profit margins are hardly worth the effort. You should look for products with good margins.
- You want your customers to order more than one item. Consider offering some upsells if your new company focuses on goods that visitors will only purchase one of at a time. Say you are selling inflatable dog houses. You’ll want to add some accessories like bones, bowls and toys to the mix to garner additional sales.
- $50 is a good benchmark for the total price of a sale. The larger the sale the better the proceeds.
- Concentrate on products that can’t be easily be found in your local mall or shop. Easy accessibility can dampen enthusiasm for an online purchase.
- Seasonal businesses are not the ideal way to go. Yes, they can be quite profitable, but if you’re looking for a reliable income source throughout the year, you probably should hedge your bets and consider selling non-seasonal items. Selling potbelly stoves? Why not add a line of outdoor barbecue equipment to your inventory?
- Try to have a low shipping rate. Many online shoppers are looking for no cost or low cost shipping. If your shipping charges are high you could lose customers and enticements like free shipping for orders over $50 could eat up your profits very quickly. Low shipping weight products (under $10) means lower shipping costs, which should appeal to you as much as it does do your customers..
- It may sound like reverse sexism, but you should focus on appealing to women shoppers when you are selling products online. In many cases women still manage the home and, as such, they have considerable buying power. From groceries to refrigerators to children’s toys, women do much of the shopping in our society, so keep the ladies in mind when looking for products to promote.
- Last but not least, make sure you have some competitors. A lot of competition is not good, but no competition is considerably worse. Unless you have a patent on a unique product there will always be some competition in a profitable niche. Some competition means that particular market is likely to be profitable.
These criterion are not written in stone. Nevertheless, the more of these guidelines you can follow, the better your results are sure to be.
Shopify is a top-of-the-line platform for starting your own store and selling products online. Minimal setup or computer experience is required and the monthly fees won’t break your budget.
An added plus for working with Shopify is that they have several themes and add-on apps from other providers that can fit in neatly with the operation of your store and increase functionality. Check these out after you’ve become comfortable with your setup and see what might help your business grow.
All you have to do after you setup your store is begin attracting customers. You’ll have to decide on free or paid adverting or a combination of both. This can also be a make or break venture and is the subject of a future post.
Good luck with Shopify and stay tuned!