Someone posted a very nice video clip on his WhatsApp status, where a speaker advised people to pick up digital marketing jobs because they are easier and cheaper to start. I downloaded the video and sent it to my own WhatsApp status and received lots of comments that showed that most of my contacts were into this business.
Further discussions revealed that one of them has been into a form of digital marketing that was more like an online shop. He sells things online but I didn’t know that most of them weren’t his. The insight he gave me is what I want to bring in here. But I will equally add some more useful tips which I gathered from my experiences with online purchases.
The good thing about digital marketing, or online shops (which I want to buttress here), is that they are so easy to start. The only things you need are a camera, a laptop and a modem (or any other form of internet connection). But if you happen to have a good phone or a tablet that could do all these things, then you are good to go. Oh, one more thing, you need to be a good marketer.
Starting an online shop, or going into digital marketing, requires a number of things. There are certain things to be put in place before the business is floated. Some of these are:
- Gathering your Equipment: Like I stated earlier, you only need to have a good camera, a laptop, and a modem. If you don’t have all these, don’t be discouraged, just go for a good Android phone and start first.
- Deciding on Things to Sell: It will be better for you to go for things you are good at. This is because you are actually the person your customers will know. You are not going to give them the contacts of the offline sellers. So, to avoid selling things that are substandard, I’ll suggest that you sell those things that you have good knowledge of.
- Choosing the Mode of Payment: Most business owners give out their bank account details for payments. But I don’t think that is safe, considering the rate of cybercrimes in our societies. So, it will be better if you subscribe to an e-payment portal that works around your area. Look for those that are easy to operate and are widely accepted by people.
- Deciding on the Form of Advertisement: Social media has made advertisement easier for businesses. Locate the ones that have greater presence of your intended customers and start gathering contacts. Start early to announce the coming of your business and keep your contacts in anticipation. Make your presence felt in these social media.
- Creating a Website or Blog: It would be nice to create a website or a blog. This will give your ‘shop’ a business outlook. You can advertise your merchandise and redirect your customers to your website or blog when they want to get further details. But, don’t let this deter you from going into your business. If you can’t launch a webpage now, you can advertise your ‘goods’ on social media and your prospective buyers will contact you through your account or email. Of course, you must definitely have an email address.
- Scouting for Wares: This is the time to look for shop owners you can ‘sell’ their wares. If you are already a physical shop owner, then you can skip this and continue. But for those that will only have virtual shops, I suggest that you look for those shop owners that do not have an online presence.
- Fixing a Contract: It will be more appropriate if you discuss terms and conditions with these shop owners. One of the agreements could be that the owners sell at cheaper rates to you and do not interfere with the prices you pegged in your online shops. For example, if the price of the goods is #100. 00 in the offline shop, the shop owner may agree to sell it to you at #80.00, and you will in turn sell it at the price of #120.00. You also have to decide on what happens in the case of returned goods. Just work out as much as you can now and keep adjusting as you go further.
- Deciding on Logistics: This usually constitutes challenges for online sellers. I once bought footwear from someone in Onitsha after seeing the advertisement on a friend’s WhatsApp status. The seller was supposed to send them to me here in Enugu through a mass transit. The price and quality of the goods were okay but she delayed for more than two weeks before sending them (meanwhile I needed to use them for an occasion). I was so disappointed in the transaction that I never bought anything from her again. So, don’t let logistics constitute a problem for you. There are so many courier companies around. Make your inquiries as you plan for this business and choose the best out of them. You can also make arrangements with mass transit companies that will help you deliver your orders to your buyers.
- Going for Trainings: You need a lot of good training on business management. Most people neglect this because they believe that business ‘runs in their blood.“ This may be true but you still need to learn from those who have been in that world. They will teach you the strategies and techniques that will keep you afloat and help you to grow.
- Deciding on Time of Operation: You may decide to have this as a full time job or a part time one. Your decision will determine the time you invest in this business. You may take pictures of the goods during the day and upload them when you are freer at night. Or, you may decide to invest more time to the business by working all through the day and most part of the night. Nevertheless, you have to be online most of the time so as to be able to receive your customers’ orders. This is the advantage of using a mobile phone that has internet connection.
- Choosing a Business Name: Of course your shop needs a name, and a unique one at that. So choose a name that reflects what you do and who you are. When you start making profits, you should go to Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to register it so that nobody else takes over your goodwill.
When all things needed to float your business have been put in place, you can then decide to go to work. Remember as you start that it is not going to be easy. You need to advertise seriously to make your presence known. And then, you need to maintain your integrity because you need that a lot. Remember, people are skeptical about online purchases.
The first thing you have to do is to take strategic pictures of things you want to upload to your online page(s). Always remember to display the pictures you took when the goods were displayed in the shops. People trust them more than the pictures downloaded from the webpage of producers (especially foreign producers), or scanned pictures of the products’ packets. Your buyers need to see and ‘touch’ the real thing. If you must use a model, use the one from your locality.
When you upload these pictures, give brief descriptions of the goods. These descriptions should cover the available size(s), capacity, origin, materials they were made of and so on. This means you have to contact the offline sellers every now and then to be sure of the availability of the goods.
As you fix the prices of the goods, also let your buyers know what their payment covers. If it includes logistics, state so. If it doesn’t, state it there too. If there are discounts attached to the sales, state them there as well. There is no need to hide anything from them. Remember you are building your integrity.
When a purchase is made, be honest with the buyer on when and how he will get his goods. Put into consideration the fact that you have to go to the offline seller to buy those goods before wrapping them up to send out. So, do all the necessary calculations and tell your customer the possible day his goods will arrive, and please, stick to it.
Remember that you are starting this business with very little capital. This means that you are buying goods using the buyers’ payments. So, require that they pay first before you send their purchases to them.
This business suggestion is actually for those who have little capital to start up businesses. I’ll suggest that though they can start up this way, they should be ready to invest more money as they grow. This will enable them to expand.
So, don’t sit back and say you don’t have money to start up a business when you have your phone that can fetch you some income. All you have to do is to follow the tips given here and do further research and you are good to go.