The internet has allowed entrepreneurs to do some amazing things in the past two decades. One of them is the ability to sell millions of dollars of physical products without even having to have a physical location.
It used to be that you had to go to the bank to take out a loan or drain your personal savings to start a brick and mortar retail store. You had to spend a lot of money on leasing your location, buying bulk products at wholesale to put on your shelves and maybe even a warehouse to store everything.
Now not only don’t you need a physical location for a storefront, but you also don’t even need to hold inventory. In fact, you don’t even need a physical office to sell tons of products online.
There are many eCommerce entrepreneurs who are moving millions of dollars worth of inventory all virtually. Here’s how:
It used to be that eCommerce merchants had to spend thousands of dollars building a website. Between design and development, this could cost a pretty penny. They even had to hire a team of developers to build the software to manage things like inventory and fulfillment. That is no longer the case.
You can outsource just about anything these days. You don’t even need a website. You can ‘outsource’ your online platform to places like Amazon, eBay, and NewEgg.
There are enterprise platforms that will act as a central inventory hub and list your products on all of these marketplaces. From one software service, you can get your products out into multiple channels, including your own website.
One of the leading products is Magento. Although this is a popular platform, it can be difficult to customize to your needs. Many merchants hire developers to configure their Magento platforms.
As you grow the Enterprise Magento pricing may also be prohibitive as it may require more robust configuration by developers. There is even an entire industry of Magento consultants and developers who specialize in this. This should be an indication of our difficult this platform is to use.
There are many other more streamlined services as well like Shopify. They will even host your eCommerce website for you and even connect to your point of sale machine if you also own a physical retail location.
This genre of platforms has made it very easy for merchants to get up and started quickly selling on the internet.
It used to be that even if you sold everything on the internet, you still had to carry inventory the products somewhere. Whether it was a warehouse or your garage, you had to physically handle and ship the packages as orders came in. Again, this is also no longer necessary.
There is an entire industry of fulfillment services you can leverage. The most popular one for obvious reasons is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
The great thing about FBA is they’ll carry and ship your products even if the product wasn’t sold on Amazon. For example, you could sell a product on eBay and then have FBA fulfill that order for you. That’s how easy and simple this has become.
That means you no longer need a warehouse, garage or employees to ship your orders. It can be done completely virtually.
Outsource Customer Service
Customer service is also something you can outsource. Instead of leasing office space and hiring a team of reps to field phone calls and emails, there are many companies you can outsource this too.
This area is not something you want to try to do yourself. Managing it, even with a full team, is a full-time job in of itself. This approach requires you to manage just one entity, which is the outsourcing firm.
Digital marketing agencies are a dime a dozen these days. They’re everywhere, which is a sign that there’s a lot of work to be done in this growing market.
There are many that specialize in eCommerce companies. They know how to manage the pay-per-click, SEO, SEM, social media and many other ad channels to get your products sold.
Unless you’re super passionate about digital marketing, it’s not something you want to handle on your own. It has become a very complex and sophisticated web that you would need a lifetime of learning to understand how it works. Outsourcing it to an agency with specialized experts in each area will free you up to enjoy the virtual working life.
Virtual eCommerce Is A Reality
Selling physical products doesn’t mean you have to have any sort of physical location. You can set it up so that you don’t ever even see the products that you’re selling, as well as outsource pretty much every other function in the business.