What to look for when opening a small online store

If you think about it, a good supermarket is also something like a museum.

E-commerce market in Russia is growing very fast. For those who have no experience of opening an online store, but thinking about it, I cover the key features of building this business and highlights that it is necessary to pay attention.

Most of the recommendations are devoted to those who don't have the budget for a large online store. Approximate cost for a small shop from 50 000 to 1 million. rub.

Product selection

Before opening an online store, the first thing you need to do is select the sold goods. The type of the item depends very much.

Product selection criteria:

1. The physical characteristics of the goods (dimensions, weight, impact resistance)

More convenient and cheaper in terms of logistics trade small and light products. They can deliver the mail courier or hiking. Risky to deal with fragile goods and goods of large dimensions.

2. The percentage of refunds

Difficult to work with clothes, because the big players accustomed to very high level of service. It is necessary to provide people the opportunity to try the product, return it. The number of refunds in this case would be great. Also frequently return technically complicated products and products requiring additional client configuration.

3. Novelty

If the product is on the market for a long time and there are many online stores that sell it, to succeed you will need to use non-standard methods that are not used yet by anyone. For example, in the case of the iPhone's sales, the company Yes-credit offered the market a new way of selling on credit. This gave the company an advantage over other sellers so popular product.

It is very difficult to sell laptops, appliances, phones, as those markets are occupied by large players. Need to monitor trends, new products and combinations, which, for example, are popular abroad. A lot of interesting products can be found in online stores (amazon.com), the United States and China. Here are a few popular:

  • www.tinydeal.com
  • www.focalprice.com
  • www.lightinthebox.com
  • www.miniinthebox.com
  • www.wsdeal.com

4. The presence of suppliers

Describe in more detail on, but need to understand that some goods can be picked up from vendor from inventory on demand, some goods have to wait weeks, and 1-2 any product only sold in batches of 10 thousand. pieces.

5. Pricing policy

Some groups of goods vendors set rigidly regulated minimum retail price (MRP). Of course, it's illegal, but allows players to this market, including online stores, to establish an acceptable margin on merchandise and obtain an acceptable profit.

Plus this market-you can calculate in advance in the business plan on what product what mark-up set.

If there is no possibility to attract buyer low price, have to take either service, or something else. We need to understand that the Organization of decent service is one of the most complex and costly business articles.

If the price of a commodity nobody controls, there is a possibility of dumping. Because the market there is an extremely high dependence on sales prices at the expense of its decline can attract a huge number of buyers. However, it is difficult to find a way to provide the lowest prices for a competitive product. In some markets by dumping heavily dropped norm of net profit. There is no point in starting to build online store at nizkomarzhinalnyh such markets as the market for computer equipment, mobile phones, home appliances and many other.

Conclusion: If there is a "chip", which it is planned to attract users who know what competitors have to "fight", understood by means of struggle with competitors, it is more profitable to operate in the market with rigidly regulated MRC.

If you decide to sell a rare commodity, or have an understanding and skills for sale complex goods when selling that requires special training, you can work on the market without the control of MRC to the product.

Where to buy the product?

Once decided on the goods it is necessary to choose one or more suppliers.

Types of suppliers and their conditions (roughly, since subtleties in different markets):

  • Purchase of goods from China or America. Requires large investments and carries a lot of risks.
  • Single purchase from online stores in China and America. If you find an interesting market for the product, you can order it from online stores in China.
  • Purchase of goods from the manufacturer in Russia. The manufacturer always has a plan of production, designed for specific and regular orders. They may only be performed by major companies-distributors, retail chains, etc. the big players.
  • Purchase from a distributor in Russia. Conditions depend on the specific market, a specific distributor and how it will be able to agree. Some impose strict conditions on minimum lot shipped goods, some are asking to put a deposit on the account, etc. d. But there are those who provide suitable conditions for cooperation and for a small company.
  • Purchase from a reseller (dealer) in Russia. Often conditions for minimal party absent, there is the possibility of a shipment under the implementation after a greater degree of confidence. To obtain the best conditions it is advisable to be personally acquainted with a representative of the dealer and not shy to bargain with him. The downside is usually relatively high purchase price.

Conclusion: options 3, 4 and 5 best suited for the novice online store. (Distributors, resellers and dealers next will call the suppliers).

Characteristics of suppliers that you need to pay attention

Unfortunately you cannot work for the provider to check the quality before the conclusion of a contract with him and 2-3 a weekly check.

  1. From the vendor should always be topical stock. Usually information about the balance is sent to all clients every day. Based on these data, Internet-shop updates information about the availability of an item on the site. If the stock change unpredictably from the provider, the online store will not be able to provide the client with the required delivery of goods, and therefore lose the client.
  2. Reservation of the goods by the supplier on demand. Online store or must be confident that the goods that it sells, there is always the provider or it should be able to reserve the item. The supplier shall in their ERP-system (usually 1 c) Note that the product is aimed at a particular store and ship the other cannot be. It is advisable to reserve goods Manager was always available. At advanced suppliers is electronic distribution system. This system provides online shopping service online reservation goods via the Internet, without the need to communicate with the Manager. Suppliers, having such a system is the best choice for online stores.
  3. Ensuring product content (photo, description). Fine, if the provider has electronically pictures and product description. Unfortunately, this is a rarity. Typically, the information is provided in the paper catalogs or in PDF files, which contain the scanned copies of the paper catalog. If there is no commercial content provider electronically, you will need to create it yourself. This is no easy task and not cheap as it seems at first glance. Major online retailers spend millions and create for this entire content divisions of 10-20 people. Very often the content voruetsya, for this purpose even created special programs. I will not dwell on this issue, it is better to find a supplier that provides the content.
  4. Working with backtrack. It is advisable for the provider to take back goods which have not sold online store, for example, owing to the refusal of the buyer. This point must be specified in the contract with the supplier. If the provider does not accept check-ins have to sell this product at a discount.

Conclusion: If there is no possibility to buy goods at the warehouse (usually not), and there is no guarantee that the goods are always available, then information on the relevance of the balances is very important. Characteristics described in p. 2 and p. 3 will help to greatly simplify the work with the provider. The condition of paragraph 4 are not principled, if selling a product has a small percentage of refunds.

Characteristics of an ideal provider:

  1. No need to purchase goods to their warehouse. You can trade directly from supplier's warehouse. This allows the store to work on a shoestring and reduce the risks associated with that purchased goods at the warehouse.
  2. The opportunity to buy goods either singly or in small batches.
  3. There is no limit on the amount of the purchased goods.
  4. The opportunity to take the goods under implementation without advance payment, even if the online store certain revolutions.
  5. Quick backup product from the provider at the time of receipt of the order from the client. This gives the assurance that the product you sold, you will be shipped from a warehouse supplier. As a rule, it is necessary to call or write to the Manager on the reserve request distributor product. Some distributors offer Internet distribution systems, that is, provide an opportunity for online shopping on their own reserve this product on-line.

How to sell a product?

Any product sold on the Internet by using special marketing tools. Maximum briefly look at the basic tools, since this focuses on a huge amount of material.

Contextual advertising (Yandex direct, Google AdWords). Tool that allows you to fine-tune the advertising companies under specific user queries in search engines. Beneficial if the product is a relatively small number of proposals from competitors.

Use cautiously. You cannot prevent overspending on advertising through site navigation untargeted users. Before starting it is advisable to seek advice or ask an acquaintance of specialist help. If you want to acquire such acquaintances, register in Fasebook and usher in a group of SEO professionals.

SEO. To a search engine (Yahoo, Google) have found a site for a particular query, and display it in the list on the first or even the second page, the site should be very correct and good. And in the first six months on the first page of Yandex website does not fall under any circumstances. Yandex. Market is one of the most popular resources of the Runet to search for a product at the lowest price.

Allows you to compete with the big online stores due to dumping prices (relates to goods with unregulated MRC). Also enables clients to deliver an assessment of the service shop. Positive evaluation increases the chances of selling. We cannot fail to note the huge number of falsifications of assessments and reviews.

Banner advertising. Usually used as a branding tool that is not designed to attract specific clients. Social networks. Interesting and fast-paced tool. Very similar to contextual advertising. The main difference is the possibility of even more fine-tuning of the target audience, but often more expensive price per click. If it is possible to accurately identify the client, such as by age, social category or status, then advertising in SOC. networks may be the most effective.

Use sites MarketPlace. Russian-Internet market or online shopping mall. Such platforms allow you to place products in their catalog and product showcase. When the MarketPlace attracts to a large number of buyers. Some MarketPlace provides the ability to sell the product, not creating your own online shop, providing and warehouse and logistics. Similar functionality is worth from one to eight per cent of the value of each order.

The most popular MarketPlace:

  • www.wikimart.ru
  • www.tiu.ru
  • www.price.ru

Conclusion: a great number of promotional tools. Each tool is a separate science. You need to try and find the most productive working methods for the selected product category.

Creating an online store

When you have reviewed all the information on the first four items, you can create a website online store.

There are a lot of tools, here are the main ones:

  • Content Management System (CMS). The box solution is the so-called content management system. Comes in the form of boxes and requires installation on Web hosting. There are both free and paid options. Of the paid most popular: Bitrix, NetCat, UMI, HostCSM. Free most popular: Joomla, Drupal, Typo3, ModX, WordPress.
  • Content Management System (CMS) SAAS. This type of CMS does not require installation on hosting and comes under the principle of "software as a service". That is, simply register for the service, choose the fare (usually means a monthly fee) and get your online shop, which will remain to add a product and start taking orders. Most popular resources: InSales, e-magazin.biz, www.shoptus.ru, the www.webassist.com, sellbe.com gollos.com
  • Widget Internet shop ECWID. Suitable in cases, if there is a ready site or simply Internet page, enough even blog. For $17 can be embedded on any page of the resource ready Internet-shop. For installation you just need to place a piece of code on a page of your site using the CMS admin interface.

Conclusion: for the novice entrepreneur can use any of the options. I would like to note that it is often advantageous to use SaaS or widget. Their functional support large companies interested in the most convenient functionality. Book shop on freelancing is much more risky. All the tools can process incoming orders, so you can go long enough without ERP.

Additional services for online stores

G.711 defines various services that can simplify the creation and work of Internet-shop.

  • Courier services. You don't have to spend time and money to organize delivery of the goods to the customer. It is only necessary to conclude a contract and start working. The courier picks up goods with your warehouse or warehouse of the supplier and the unsuccessful client. The service costs from 200 rubles and above for shipping per order. Similar services much enough, here's an example of some of these www.ru-courier.com, www.speedpost.ru
  • Automation of accounting. For automation of accounting and billing, there are several low-cost services. One of the most common.


Opening of even a small online store quite a time-consuming job. Do not open e-shop without understanding the market, its laws and regulations. But as Bill Gates once said: "in the future will remain on the market two kinds of companies: those that on the Web, and the ones that have gone out of business." I wish you success!

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Автор статьи: Максим Миллер - о авторе.
Бизнесмен, инвестор, финансовый консультант Facebook
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