What skills do you need to get a professional online store off the ground?
Discipline is the most important skill of all when running an online shop. The Internet is great at leveling competitors out by reducing the costs involved to entering a competitive environment. But without the determination to do the hard work, you will not succeed no matter how good your website, idea, or technology platform.
Here are some of the skills that you would need to run an online shop.
- Market Analysis - you need to be able to see a gap in the market that you can exploit. There's no point being a "me too" business and selling the same thing as everyone else. What are your competitors not doing that you could be? Is there a way that you could sell your products that nobody else has thought of? Can you dominate the market in terms of price, performance, speed to market, quality, social networks, marketing channels etc. You will not succeed in any business if there's no point of difference between you and anyone else as you will just be a seller of a generic product on price alone.
- Writing Product Descriptions and Content - how you sell your business will be essential to selling online. You will need to have interesting and unique content in your website to get the attention of search engines and potential buyers, so you can't rely on just using the product descriptions of your manufacturers if you want to be successful.
- Discipline - there is a lot of search engine marketing work you can do yourself to promote an online shop, but a lot of it is "grunt work" that you need to be prepared to do on an ongoing basis. You can outsource some of it to a search engine optimisation/search engine marketing (SEO/SEM) company but it will end up costing you a lot of money as they won't be adding value doing repetitive work.
- Financial record keeping - don't assume that your accountant will do all of your books for you. You need to keep good records so that your accountant can do the best job for you, and that you can claim everything that you are entitled to. You can't claim anything you don't have a good record of. Good record keeping will help you keep track of how well you are going - how you are doing against your competitors, how much stock value you have (which will help you determine when to run a sale), how much you have spent.
- Time management and multi-tasking - if you are running your online store from home, you will need the ability to separate home life and work life. It's very easy to let home distractions affect your work if you are not focused. What you need to do is assign a specific area for your work, and a specific time and make sure that you do it there and then. If you don't' allocate enough time for your family, you won't succeed but if you don't allocate enough time for your business you won't either.
If you are starting an online shop with Ozcart, you don't need design capabilities as the web design to get your store created to start with is included in your initial setup. What you get to start with is an online shop configured for Australia with a design personalised for your business. What you will need to do is add:
- Products and product images
- Set up your postage methods and costs
- Set up your payment methods (signing up with a merchant or third party gateway like Paypal)
- Creating any marketing banners you wish to display on your site and turning on or off side boxes
- Testing your checkout so you understand what your customers will be experiencing (so you can answer any of their questions)
Once the store is live you will not get instant traffic, you will need to work hard to build traffic to your site. You can use paid forms of traffic initially, but ultimately you will need to build more stable forms of traffic if you don't have a steady stream of people looking for your business by name.