The cottage industry for ecommerce has officially hit, with more and more crafters, artisans, and service providers moving to online marketplaces and individual store sites to move their goods. In the last few years, the appeal of a dedicated store site has grown among full-time artisans whose names have become recognizable brands. So, what will it take to set that up for you?
Inventory Space and Workspace
It’s easy to remember how much space you will need for tasks like packing up your goods, but have you considered how much inventory you will keep on hand? What about the space that takes up? You can opt to work on custom orders, but that limits how quickly you can move because you have to wait for orders before starting them. Finding a balance between bespoke goods and the staples with predictable demand starts by finding a balance between their space requirements and what you have to work with in your home office area.
Stay Organized With the Right Online Sales Software
If you want your home business to be able to grow, you need to give it tools that can scale. That means using the right design software for the site and the right ecommerce shipping software to handle your order processing and outgoing shipments. In between those two things, you’ll also want to invest in the right online store software for the customer-facing side of transactions and order processing.
You have a lot of options for fulfilling these three core technological needs. Some store software can handle your entire company website. Some shipping software also functions as your ecommerce store. The key is to find the right balance of options to suit your needs while protecting your customers’ financial information.
Business Bank Accounts
One of the most important steps to opening up a home business of any kind is separating your business and personal finances. That means having a dedicated checking account for your company’s money where you can track what you spend on its behalf and what has come in from customer payments. Many entrepreneurs also want some kind of savings to move reserve money into. For online retail of any kind, it’s important to also set up a merchant account to facilitate payment processing.
Merchant accounts are the accounts used to process electronic transactions for credit cards.
They handle whatever your payment processor does, so that can mean debit and ACH as well. You can find online store software that includes processing, but it costs a lot more than a relationship with your own processor and an account to support the service. If you need to, you can always start with a built-in processor and move to your own selection later, but you will be paying higher fees on your transactions until you do.
Records and Administrative Software
It’s a good idea to do your company's books outside of the other software you use to manage the business. Even if full bookkeeping is integrated into your other software suites, your accountant or tax preparation professional will want copies. That means exporting them in a format that works with today’s major accounting software. Investing in that software yourself unlocks a lot more options than using an integrated bookkeeping solution, like the ability to cross compare for years of business sales.
It’s a good idea to invest in this kind of software and any design software you need to make your goods with money from the company account, to begin the process of building your business. Once the company has some equipment and software, it is up and running as something of its own.
Rolling Out Your Online Store
If you have previously listed your work on larger marketplaces, then a lot of the actual process of taking orders and shipping out goods will be familiar once you learn your new software. What is new are the marketing tools at your disposal once you have your own site. Learning to make the most of SEO with your own platform can really bring in your business, so make sure you are ready to hit the ground running when you launch your site and store together.