Starting Out as an Online Retailer

Starting Out as an Online Retailer: What to keep in mind

It has never been so easy to showcase and sell your own products. Thanks to various online shop software packages and the possibility of selling products on marketplaces such as eBay, Dawanda, Etsy, etc., even laymen can get a lucrative business off the ground with just a few clicks.

This was not always the case - a few years ago, starting your own online shop was still associated with massive investments. Today, you can start a lucrative business quickly and cheaply.  If you understand how to set up a Powerpoint presentation, you can also manage to create a respectable online shop.

Hier is a list of things to keep in mind when starting out:

1. A well thought-out concept

  • What do I want to sell?
  • What does the competition look like? What prices do I have to offer to be attractive? Does that help me break even?
  • How do I get customers? What will it cost me? Will my efforts pay off?

These questions have to be clearly answered before starting, and then they have to be checked again and again to see whether the hypotheses were accurate.

2. Online Shop Software

Here you have to choose between classic shop software installed on your own web server, or providers in the cloud where you rent the shop.

As a rule, systems that are installed on your own server can be better adapted to your own needs. Depending on the system, you can design almost anything you want. However, this requires some know-how and an IT specialist who installs and sets up the system.

It is easier to start with a shop system that you rent in the cloud. This eliminates many technical questions and problems, because you don't have to deal with servers, hosting, performance, etc.

All shop systems generally offer specifications which ensure that the shop also meets all legal standards. However, international providers may need to be particularly careful, as not all shops have all the German Data and Consumer Protection requirements integrated by default.

Our current favorites include:

  • Cloud solutions: Squarespace, jimdoo, wix
  • Shop software: ePages, gambio, shopware, magento

3. Logistics

Finally your shop is live, and your first order arrives. Now it's time to leave a perfect impression on the customer. This starts with appealing packaging - many studies show that packaging and containers contribute significantly to the customers' decision to order again.

If the parcel is shipped, the customer should be able to enjoy a high degree of transparency and ideally be able to follow the shipping route in real time.

Here too, there are many options available:

Do-it-Yourself - Package it yourself, book your own shipment (usually via an interface in the shop system), apply your own shipping label, bring it to the post office or to the parcel shop. For a startup, this is certainly the recommended option, as it is important to understand exactly how the process works.

Fulfillment partner - Here, part of the process is transferred to a service provider. The service provider then either picks up the ordered goods and manages it from there, or the goods are also stored directly with the service provider and processed there after approval. In both cases it is important that the end customer and the shop owner can see in real time what is happening to their goods and view all stages of the process. Working with a service provider makes sense even for small quantities. The efficient processes of a fulfillment professional make shipping considerably easier and, as a rule, much cheaper.

With Packator, we offer almost all of these services. Our fulfillment experts prepare an individual offer for all types of products and the size of the shipment.

4. Well Organised Accounting

An unpopular but essential aspect is the clear accounting of the transaction. The customer must receive an invoice that meets the legal requirements. The payment from the customer must then be reconciled with the amount due from the invoice and booked accordingly. In addition, returns must be credited and reimbursed. Only with a very high degree of automation and very good organization can an online shop grow and prosper without suffocating on the quantity of receipts and the associated expenditure.

Here too, there are exciting tools that make life easier. Our favorites Include:

  • fastbill
  • sevDesk
  • billomat

5. A Marketing Strategy

Again and again we see great shops, which unfortunately are launched without a plan for customer acquisition. The fact that you publish a shop on the Internet does not automatically bring customers and sales, but rather the great danger of drowning in the sheer mass of shops available to consumers.

Traders who already have a functioning business should use this as a springboard for your online shop. This means that you should advertise the shipping offer to your regular customers without fear of damaging your business. In the next step, you can then use recommendation marketing campaigns to further expand your customer base. This can be a voucher that customers can pass on to friends and acquaintances. In addition, you can increase sales with your customers by offering services that are not possible in your regular store. For example, why not offer to send your customer a new pair of socks every 3 months if that is what they are currently purchasing?

Another successful strategy is to occupy clear niches. These can be special products or possibly also adjusting to a very specific target group. A good example is With its unique URL and clear focus, the site appears in the top positions on Google and can easily attract new customers.

In any case, customer acquisition is the most expensive and strenuous part of starting a successful mail order business. If you don't have a clear idea, you should gather competent advice on the subject beforehand.

Do you have any questions or would like to know how Packator can help you simplify your shipment and logistic efforts?

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