Running a low cost online business is every seller’s dream. However, most give up due to the unavailability of options in the market. While this is not the case, researching and understanding cost saving areas is the key. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?
eCommerce has gained popularity in recent years. Thanks to the comfortable market policies and growing inclination towards digitization. Today, industries are switching online. And customers are willing to shop online more than ever. This process has been accelerated with the post pandemic scenario. Therefore, it becomes most opportune for sellers to dive into eCommerce and leverage it.
The lower entry barriers to the market have opened up quite many solutions for upcoming businesses. In other words, traditional business options are not the only ones required to run an eCommerce business today. While the earlier methods required a lot of costs, the same task can be done with lower investments today. The only thing you have to do is pick the smart options.
But, before you do that, you need to understand the essentials of eCommerce. Only then you can make space for lower cost facilities. Understand which areas are the most essential for your business. And only if you channel your efforts in those areas, your business can go a long way.
But don’t worry, if you can’t figure out where to get started. We’ve got the perfect checklist for you. Read on to find out more about starting a low cost online business-
What is the Idea of a Low Cost Online Business?
A low cost online business doesn’t mean you need to sell products that cost lower. For example, selling musical instruments will obviously cost more than selling kitchen utensils. Similarly, selling real estate online is a more risk taking cost involving business than food and grocery items.
The idea of a low cost business therefore, involves a lot more than just products. It also means picking smart options for investment. Most sellers end up making the following mistakes-
- They partner with a supplier that charges them a heavy sum of money. This could have been avoided if you partner with a manufacturer and negotiate for a large number of products. As a simple rule for most products, the higher the number of products ordered in a batch, the lower the cost gets. Therefore, get an estimate of your demands and preorder with hard negotiation.
- Warehousing and logistics often end up taking a lot of costs. Most sellers just hire the first place they see for their warehouse. This puts them under a lot of pressure. If you want to really cut down on the costs, you need to explore your options well.
- eCommerce sellers also invest a lot in marketing. That’s because the first thing on their mind is to get their name out there. However, this can be an expensive affair. Remember that there are low cost options available in the market today. With digital marketing, you need some smart tactics to excel your way in the online world.
Steps to Starting a Low-Cost Online Business
First things first, you need a guide to know the essentials of an online business. This will get you started right away. And don’t worry, it only has the essentials that your online business cannot do without. Take a look below to know more-
Know Your Market
Start by knowing your market. Starting a low cost online business means that you need to study your market. Understand what your competitors are doing. This will give you a headstart in the market. Don’t give in to the first options you encounter. Instead dig deep into the directories for better results.
Step into the World of Multi-Channel
Why sell on only one channel, when you can sell on all of them? Exploring multiple channels can give you a strong start in the market. Start with marketplaces for example. Most of these don’t have a monthly fee. Therefore, you get access to the audience of multiple platforms but at the lowest costs ever.
Integrate Your Shopping Experience
You might be selling on multiple platforms and shipping via different carriers. At the same time you will also need to manage your inventory. Doing all of this on multiple platforms can be a tough nut to crack. However, lowering your ecommerce costs would mean switching to a single unified platform.
Invest in the Essentials
No matter what happens, you cannot go without investing in the essentials. They don’t require much, but you need to be smart with choosing the right options
Content is the king of marketing. You can hire a writer to create quality content of various kinds for you. This will help you attract more traffic to your website. So, if you provide quality content like how-to videos and tutorials, you can easily secure your ground on the search engine. This will also warm up your buyers for the purchase.
Pricing and Inventory
Pricing inventory are also key areas that require a lot of thought. You need to price your products right, but at the same time not lose money. Take a look at the market prices and secure a better deal from your manufacturer. While managing your inventory, choose a platform that helps you do it at the lowest costs. For example, at Dash101, you can do it all at the lowest costs.
Logistics costs are inevitable. This gives you another reason to be smart about them. Make sure you have a warehouse that is nearby to your high shipping volume area. Then choose the provider with lowest costs. This will give you an upper hand in saving business costs.
Service and Support
Customer service and support are the fundamentals of ecommerce. You cannot choose to ignore them. If you want to save costs, you need to have a live chat option on your website. This will reduce the burden of hiring more support members. In case you cannot hire a team, outsource customer support to third part companies.
Payment and Refunds
Payments and refunds are a part of eCommerce. As a seller you need to have multiple payment gateways. And at the same time you also need to establish a mechanism for refunds. Make sure that you leverage an online builder website to create your low cost online business with maximum functionalities.
Providing a safe experience to your customers is mandatory for your business. You need to have an SSL certification on your website. But, that can cost you some money. Alternatively, you can use an online website builder platform such as Dash101 to build a safe and secure website.
Establishing a low cost business means removing unnecessary pages you might have during checkout. Streamlining your checkout process is not just essential to your business but also reduces cart abandonments and more.
Personalization is an important factor in eCommerce. But, you don’t need to invest in a lot of tools to create such an experience for your customers. All you have to do is have a basic marketing tool that lets you segment your customers. Then draft a campaign that suits the particular segment of customers, by understanding your pain points.
Customer Relationship Management
Focus on establishing a relationship with your customers. Remember that it takes way more investment in securing a new customer than keeping one. Therefore, you need to foster relationships with your customers with little practices. Send them thank you notes or ask for their feedback after a purchase.
Your eCommerce business must be scalable. This way you can enter into new markets or fall back if something doesn’t work out. Therefore, you must choose your partners wisely. From website building platform to marketing tools and more, choose something that lets you grow and make changes along the way.
Your marketing campaigns must not be in vain. For this reason choose the channels where your customers are present. For retargeting leverage Facebook and for branding use Instagram. But, explore where your customers are to save your money.
Social Media Plan
Your social media plan must include your customers. The motto should be to keep them engaged. Participate in discussions and provide a platform your customers want to follow.
No matter what, create a mobile optimized version of eCommerce store.
Where to Cut Down on Business Costs?
Now that you know the essentials of running an online business, let’s move on. You also need to know where you need to cut down on the business costs. Most sellers are clueless about where to lower down the costs. Because, everything can seem essential. However, if you want to really save costs, here are some of the areas worth considering. Take a look below-
Human resources is one of the biggest areas where you can cut down on business expenses. In other words, when you’re running your online business, you don’t need a ton of resources. You might run a successful business from the convenience of your homes. In such cases, you don’t need to hire a lot of staff to manage your business. You can do it on your own. With online store builders available to ease the job, you can do it on your own. Therefore, you can save human resources costs significantly. Instead, you can put the saved money into growing your business. Even if you have a large business, you can outsource most activities. This way you can increase the efficiency of your business and at the same time keep your costs sustained.
Cost of Products
Another area of concern can be the cost of products. This is where most of the eCommerce businesses end up spending. While good products are fundamental to any business, the price is an equally important factor. In other words, you need to find the right suppliers. These need to be the ones that offer you a high quality product at the lowest costs. One smart way is to partner with manufacturers, rather than suppliers. The only condition is that manufacturers usually consider a deal for a larger number of products. So, if you know that you will be expecting a certain number of orders, you can pass on the same to a manufacturer. In return, you can negotiate a lower price for the products. Start looking in the directories if you don’t know where to get started.
One of the key areas where small sellers end up paying more than often, is warehousing. Warehousing is one of the fundamentals of eCommerce. If you are selling physical goods in the market, there is no escaping it. That’s because of the very process of eCommerce. So, if you are selling physical products, you will need to secure them in advance. And these products will need a home. For example, if you are selling food items, you will need a warehouse with special requirements. You will need to keep the products fresh and in good condition. Therefore, the warehouse with special conditions will also have costs involved. As a small business, this can mean a lot for you. A smart way to save warehousing costs is to outsource it. Several third party companies let you keep your goods in their warehouse for a small cost.
If you’re starting your eCommerce business, you must have heard that logistics make up for the most of the costs. And that’s true. Logistics involve the most of the burden of eCommerce. If you are not prepared to manage these costs effectively, you’ll end up without any profits. The point is that logistics costs don’t just end at shipping products to the customer’s doorstep. In other words, it just begins there. In an ideal ecommerce order fulfillment process here is how the logistics goes-
- The manufacturer needs to ship products to your warehouse
- From there, you ship products to the customer’s doorstep
- If there are any returns or failed deliveries, bring the product back
All of these costs add up to your business. This means that you have to compensate them for your profits. Most businesses are pressured into offering free shipping. This is because today’s customers want free shipping. But, in such a competitive scenario, where you have to compete with market giants, doing so can be painful. A smart strategy is to hire a 3PL logistics provider like Dash101 Logistics, that can help you ship at the lowest costs. You can ship to 26000+ pin codes with 8+ courier partners at shipping rates starting Rs 23/500 gms. Additionally, you can also manage your inventory and lower your return shipments.
One of the biggest cost investing areas of business is traditional marketing. This includes door to door services among others. Some of the traditional marketing strategies can be broadcasting on the radio, television, bill board and other places. While these are effective methods of marketing, they also involve a lot of costs. For a small business, this can mean a lot of investment burden. There was a time when investing in these methods were mandatory. However, today it is not compulsory to lure your customers through these popular mediums. All you have to do is look for the smart options for small businesses.
On the other hand, with changing trends and growing digitization, digital marketing has become popular. With the lowest investment, you can earn huge profits. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google provide ample opportunities for advertising. Even if you search anything on Google, you see ads coming up as search results. Therefore, if you learn to market your business digitally, you can also get noticed by the customer and get our name. The best part is that all of this can happen with bare minimum investment.
Accounting and Financial Fees
Managing finances can be a tough task. Especially when you’re running a small business, it is easy to lose out on the finances. This can not only hurt your business, but also your further investments. Therefore, you need to make a smart decision. While large businesses surely have a lot to hire a team for their finances, small ons don’t. For this reason, finance and accounting software can do the job. Today, there are a lot of platforms available that can help you get started with our finances without investment. You can take up the free trial version to understand which one suits you the best. Alternatively, you can also buy the paid plans of such software. You can save the money for a financial consultation from time to time. This can keep your business finances in check and suggest you the suitable strategies at the right time.
Rent and Utilities
Rent and utilities are inevitable for any business. You will have to hire a place where you can keep your products. The same goes for managing your warehouse, electricity, water and other utility bills. However, the best part about ecommerce is that you get to run your business from anywhere. Therefore, you can choose a low cost area to begin with. That is where you can rent a warehouse or purchase one. And if you have a reliable logistics provider, you can ship to anywhere at the lowest costs. This can be a smart and effective way to cut down on the rent and utilities.
Another important area of costs is taxes. With the growing sales you make, you also need to pay the taxes. On the other hand, you might also have to purchase the infrastructure for your business. This would mean paying the goods and services tax on the purchased goods as well. However, if you are smart, you can file for rebates. Keep an eye on the changing government policies. With newer policies coming up, the government is offering a wide number of opportunities for the medium and small businesses to save money. Therefore, if you purchase infrastructure for your business under a certain amount allocated by the government, you can reclaim the GST paid. The same goes on for the revenue earned on the purchases.
Starting an online business can be dreamy. Because it seems that the industry guarantees a lot of profits owing to the large customer base. However, a successful online business also requires a great deal of investment. Right from setting up your store to purchasing the products and managing logistics, a lot goes into this. While all these involve costs, with a little smart practices these can be managed well.
A low cost online business can be as effective as a market giant, only with the right steps. Make sure you leverage the market tools at their best. With lower entry barriers to eCommerce, several new tools have cropped up. These are not only helping sellers make the right decision, but also ease the selling process. Therefore, if you want to create a sustainable business for yourself, make sure to take smart steps in the world of eCommerce.
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