So You Want to Sell Online, continued...
When it comes to opening a store on the internet, all of the same things should be considered as if it the operation was going to be a standard corner store. Product, who, what, and where the market is, pricing, marketing, advertising, and visibility.  So as it relates to the old adage.... "Don't get the cart before the horse," the wheels of success roll easier if you plan first and then hook things up in the right order.

"OK I get it.... I've to know what I'm going to sell and to who, and at what price first, but I'm one of the lucky ones who has that all figured out."

Good, if you have an existing "real world" physical store or a solid online plan and all those considerations are in place for you, make sure and give thought to how your product and business systems will transfer to online sales.

So let's say Cathy already has a physical store, and it's doing well. She considers adding an online storefront to her operation. What else should she think about, Cathy needs to think about her broader online marketplace, double check pricing, understand her shipping costs and take into consideration staff responsibilities for handling internet orders. Is the product drop shipped from a wholesaler, stocked, who is accountable for processing the boxing, shipping and completion of the order.

While many of the considerations when opening a storefront online are the same there are others to think about too.  Search engine optimization, linking to other sites that can refer you business, links to social media sites to drive traffic, return policies, and warranty information should be addressed.

"I'm on Facebook, have a big email list, and know my way around the social media scene, the real questions can I make money with a storefront online and is it worth the effort?"

A bit of work yes, potentially rewarding for sure, online annual sales on the internet are measured in the billions... do your homework be realistic and find a reputable web developer to guide you through and a piece of it could be yours. Just make sure you keep start up costs  and monthly fees reasonable. As much as possible try to let earnings drive expense. A good online storefront should be expandable and grow with you as orders grow.
There is money to be made on the Web and many advantages to adding a storefront that is hard at work, even when you're sleeping. An internet store requires very little overhead or staffing, and always brings a smile with each order email from Paypal's credit card merchant services, "You Made Money, Click Here to View Transaction Details." I always smile when I get those emails showing a new purchase order happened during the night.

Here are some of the benefits a storefront can add to a well thought out business plan that will live just on line, or to an existing business that currently has "bricks and mortar" and is adding an online storefront.

    *  Additional sales from a new channel = new sources of revenues
    *  Low start up costs
    *  Quick Setup and Opening. You can be up and running in a jiffy
    *  24/7 Sales.... your storefront works even while you sleep
    *  Low overhead and maintenance... just list and price your products
    *  Increased Business Footprint and Presence
    *  Online buyers are likely to follow with a  visit to your bricks and mortar operation.
    *  Shopping convenience for your existing customers.
    *  Easy product entry, changes, and site updating, (a good storefront puts control in your                hands, point and click, fill in the blank, upload a picture and your product is in. No web guy         needed).
    *  Oh.... and did I mention Income!

OK, so there you have it..... Get Rich Quick... mhmmm possible, but more likely .... a way to add value, and an affordable way to sell your products online and generate a new low overhead, income stream...Should you do it?  My answer is this.... Know your market, plan your product, price it to give value and meet the needs of your buyers, and you'll most likely have a winner!  So I say plan and then by all means ...."Go For It!"

- Rick Merlino

Rick Merlino is the co-founder of a product of, Inc. He has an extensive background in sales, training, marketing, and website development. E-commerce Websites