Have you ever wondered what goes into running an online shop? I did and then I went and opened one. It takes a lot of things behind the scenes to create a product, sell it to a customer, then ship it out. If you have any interest or are just curious about what it looks like behind the scenes, then you have come to the right place.
I want to start out by saying that this isn’t the only way. There are many different ways to go about opening up an online shop nor will this be a comprehensive guide. But, these are some of the things that I learned and picked up along the way.
When you are opening up an online shop you need a website to actually sell from. You can use a marketplace like Etsy, which will bring traffic to your store through its own search engines. They do however take fees on each of your sales and when you list a product to your store.
You can also use other e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. The difference with these is you are actually building your own website to sell from. Which is completely different from Etsy. You manage everything and bring your own traffic. But you have the bonus to have your own branded website. Sometimes, when you ask someone where they got something they will say Etsy, not the actual seller from Etsy, which is unfortunate. If you use an e-commerce platform and have built your own website, it is likely they will say they bought it from you with the actual name of your store.
E-commerce platforms do have their own fees and subscription costs as well, but it might be better for you in the long run. Some people prefer to start on Etsy if they don’t already have a built-in customer base and then move over to a different platform. There is no right way to do anything. Take your time to research what is best for you.
This won’t apply to everyone but depending on what you are planning on selling you might need to purchase equipment to help produce and ship your products. I sell stationery and enamel pins, so I didn’t have a lot of equipment I had to buy beforehand.
Before I opened my shop, I bought a Cricut machine, a printer, and a label printer. I have since switched over to a Silhouette from Cricut, which is the die-cutting machine I use to cut out all of my stickers and sticker sheets. I bit the bullet and bought a label printer, they can be a bit pricey, to save time and effort so I don’t have to print out labels and attach them to the packages. It was worth it.
Take your time to decide what you want to sell and figure out how to make the products if you aren’t sourcing them from manufacturers. Invest in quality machines beforehand and it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run as well.
This is probably the most fun thing about owning a shop and the most stressful. For most products, it takes weeks of development, planning, and production before you can even begin to sell a product.
If you aren’t making your own products, a lot of people search for manufacturers to get them from. A place to start is Alibaba, which is an online search engine that allows you to search for manufacturers that will produce your products. I use Alibaba manufacturers to make my enamel pins and washi tape. This process takes time and isn’t a fast turnaround.
For example, I am planning a huge shop drop on 7/9. I started designing my products and reaching out to manufacturers in late April to get everything done on time and shipped to me in time for launch day. Take a look at what will be available in my shop, Litlore, on 7/9!
Packaging orders might be my favorite part of owning a shop. Its fun to see people buying things that you have put your heart and soul into. Packaging is another way to show off your branding as well. It gives you a chance to connect with your customer, show off your brand in creative ways, and make a repeat customer.
A lot of people like shopping from small businesses and this is one way to show that off. You aren’t Amazon so make your brand stand out and make the customer want to come back.
Social media is a tiring beast, but it is necessary if you are selling online products. Yes, you can use ads to attract customers, but social media also goes a very long way. You don’t have to do more than one platform – choose one that you know and can use. Lots of people use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or TikTok. Have fun showing off your different products to the world – get creative!
Running a small business is not an easy task. It is often like taking on a full-time job and it’s not a standard 9-5. Things are constantly changing, but it’s worth the hard days. Have fun with your business and love what you’re selling. Chances are someone will love it too.