It wasn’t long ago that starting a business seemed like quite a lot of work. Today however, starting up a business can be as simple as registering on Amazon or eBay – that’s how easy it has become thanks to the internet. It’s not just sites like Amazon and eBay that make starting a business easy either, you need stock to sell after all – but sites like Alibaba and DHGate have popped up, which make finding suppliers at a factory level child’s play. What’s great about running a webstore is that you can run it from home – and sometimes even keep up your full time job whilst the business is in its infancy, giving you valuable financial security.

Setting up a shop front on the internet

There are the obvious places to start up a shop like the aforementioned Amazon and eBay websites, but some people are a little more brave and decide to “go it alone” from the outset, setting up their very own website. Lots of people who start up on Amazon or eBay find they just don’t have time to develop their own site from the outset, and that’s fine as long as they make time further down the line. For most people, developing a website is something they’d never be able to do in a million years, and hiring a professional web development company to build one just isn’t cheap. Thanks to yet another internet phenomenon, the rise of freelancing sites like Elance and Guru, virtually anyone can have a professional looking website custom coded to their specifications, for very little money. As business startups go, a webstore can be very, very cheap.

Hiring a marketing expert

Having a pretty looking webstore is one thing, driving traffic and customers to it is an entirely different thing altogether. Getting customers to your website is all about being creative – it’s not like Amazon and eBay where most of the traffic has logged on with a specific purpose or intention to buy a product, essentially “buyers on a plate”. Driving consistent amounts of traffic to your website can seem like an uphill struggle at times, so it’s important you stick it out.

Methods such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media and also paid click programs like Adwords are all ideal ways to get people visiting your site. Executing an SEO, social media or a paid click campaign can take some serious knowledge if it’s to be effective – and this is where the freelancing sites like Elance and Guru come in, once again. There are lots of marketing experts there waiting for your call for help!

The best of both worlds?

People looking for the easy ride will choose sites like Amazon and eBay to sell on, but they may be disappointed. Many markets on these sites are heavily saturated with margins extremely low. Having your own website can to an extent bring in much bigger profit margins per item you sell, it’s just getting people to your site to buy things in the first place. Lots of people who start out selling on selling platforms like eBay will go on to run their own site in tandem with their eBay operations. Perhaps this is the best way of doing things, giving sellers the best of both worlds.

If you’re looking into selling physical products as opposed to services, you should definitely look into the opportunities there are for selling on third party sites, as well as your own. To get a steady stream of sales building up you might want to go with sites like Amazon and eBay, whilst gradually building up your own website on the side. Building your own site doesn’t happen overnight, and when it is up you won’t get customers overnight either. It’s important to find a balance between selling on other people’s sites and selling on your own.

Some people might take a dim view of building a business selling on someone else’s site, but the fact is even big companies are now recognizing the potential of platforms like eBay, and selling their products on there. So how about it? Look into niches that interest you, perhaps you enjoy hunting, or even horse riding. Check out some of the websites that connect you with suppliers and see whether there’s a market for those products.  You could be incorporating the next potential Fortune 500 company to-be before you know it!