I saw the opportunity of online selling when I was in college. The first gift I asked my parents for my 18th birthday was a digital camera, so I would re-sell things. That was more than 10 years ago, and the online marketplace was still very raw and underdeveloped, and we only had Multiply back then. I saw the need of consumers to buy online because it was a convenient way of purchasing without going places to buy a certain product.
I was pretty challenged that time to be able to put up an online shop, as I would see online shops abroad. As a first time entrepreneur, I did not have enough resources to sell at the mall–with the margins, rent, concessions, and manpower costs. Selling online cuts your operating expenses, as you can manage it yourself, and you don't have to pay rent. Eventually, I was able to grow the business and expand to retail. Online selling was actually my stepping stone to retail.
I used to be a beauty blogger and blogged about beauty products. With that, I opened an online shop that sold mineral makeup, and makeup brushes (my brand, Charm). I offered free consultation days, and posted announcements on my blog. I would also post on forums–like the one on Female Network, to be able to promote my products. Right now, we are able to expand our network of buyers through the help of our blogger friends who are gracious enough to feature our products in their blog and share our site to their readers. As for suppliers, it is still an endless process of sourcing and being always on the lookout for new products. We get to road test it thoroughly before we decide to offer them in our store.
Although there are cons such as missing out on walk-ins, mall traffic, and credit card fraud, there are some pros as well. We have less overhead, we can work on our own time, and we can count on local couriers to ship our client’s orders.
For those who want to start a business, I would have to say that you would need to understand that what you sell reflects who you are, so choose your products wisely. I would not want something of poor quality to be related, connected, or identified with me. That’s the reason why I choose my products carefully.
Online selling is a great stepping stone into retail–don't be afraid to start small. Make sure that your online store looks clean and attractive, and very user-friendly. Before, it was a challenge to create online stores. Right now, it's pretty easy–there are so many platforms that let you create your online store in an instant! Take great photos as that would be the only gauge your clients would depend on before they press "buy."
Be a reliable seller and always reply to inquiries promptly–customer service is very important in online selling. If more people are happy with your products and services, then more people will talk about your products and share them with their friends and family. Word of mouth is still pretty strong even in online selling.
*As told to Female Network
Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.