Ways to Set Up an Online Bookstore

If you are planning to start the next Amazon.com for books, you should conduct a thorough business viability research and have a business plan in place, which will help you plan your business strategies. Today, Internet-savvy readers prefer to ditch the queue and time involved in getting to a bookstore. Instead, they shop for books at the click of a button from the very comfort of their homes. Apart from actual books, many people today own devices like iPads, tablets, Kindle, e-book readers, mobile phones, etc., which read e-books in various formats. However, paper books have a huge fan following. Hence, e-books will not replace their popularity among the readers. So, if you are planning to set up your own online bookstore, which offers electronic as well as paper books, it can turn out to be a very lucrative venture. However, you should know how to conduct the business properly in order to make it successful. Here are few tips that will aid you in this regard.

Website to Sell Books

You have an option of either paying for your domain name and starting your own website, or having an account on websites like eBay and Amazon that host accounts of booksellers. While going for well-known websites like eBay and Amazon is cost-effective, they may not deliver books all over the world. However, you will certainly save on a lot of cost if you opt for this option.

If you plan to develop your own website, remember the following:

✦ Have a trendy domain name based on your business name.
✦ Have it search engine optimized.
✦ Give it an interactive and user-friendly interface.
✦ List it on various directories.

Tip: If you are a small business, opt for selling books through other websites, and then go on to have your own website.

Details on the Web Page

Your web page should make a positive impact on the user. He should get all the information about the book that he is looking for. The web page of a book should have the following details:

✦ Title
✦ Author
✦ International Standard
✦ Book Number (ISBN)
✦ Hardcover/paperback/e-book/audio book
✦ Edition
✦ Publisher
✦ Price before and after discount

Apart from the details mentioned above, you can include editorial reviews, publishing date, reader ratings, about author section, etc. Give an overview or description of the books. Ensure that it is exciting enough to hold the attention of the reader and effective enough to prompt the reader to buy it. Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in it. You will also have to include a ‘Buy it’ or ‘Add to cart button’.

Tip: Apart from this, the web page should also tell if the books are available in your stock and can be shipped in a certain number of days.

Types of Books

You will have to decide whether you will offer paper books or e-books. You also have an option of selling audio books. However, you will have to make them available in various formats. Also, you will have to take a call whether to go for new books, secondhand books, or both. You will have to plan which category of books you will offer. You can choose from a wide list of genre like textbooks, suspense, love stories, bestsellers, self-help, fantasy, mythology, horror, fiction, science fiction, etc. It is advisable that you choose a few categories in the beginning and add more as your business expands.

Tip: Offering bestsellers and textbooks can be risky. This is because bestsellers are available too easily on the Internet, and textbooks have seasonal sale and run the risk of getting outdated too fast.

Ordering Books

You can have tie-ups with various distributors for supplying new books. Conduct a market study to understand partnering with which distributor will be profitable for you.

Look for indicators like:
✦ Profit margin
✦ Cost
✦ Delivery
✦ Availability of books

As far as sourcing old and new books is concerned, you can get them from:
✦ Used book stores
✦ Garage sale
✦ Library sales
✦ Thrift shops
✦ Wholesalers
✦ Family and Friends

You can also source books from:
✦ Ingram Content Group
✦ Baker & Taylor

Source e-books from online shops like:
✦ Amazon
✦ Kobo Books
✦ Barnes & Noble

Tip: Make an agreement with the distributors to get a better bargain on the prices of books.

Storing Books

Try to order the books keeping the demand in mind. If a new book has caught a reader’s fancy, unless you offer competitive prices, people will not be interested to buy it as it will be easily available everywhere. Go for collectors’ items, autographed first editions, award-winning books, as well as those that are rare to find, high on demand, and help fetch a good price. You can hire a climate-controlled warehouse to keep the books or wrap them properly to store in your garage space. Giving a contract to drop shippers can save your storage costs. Don’t buy too much stock as people often want an updated version of the book.

Tip: Make use of a good inventory management software program in order to update and maintain the stock from time to time.

Shipping Books

You will have to decide which parts of the world will your business cater to. Initially, try to gain a reputation of timely delivery nationally before venturing out in the international market. You can use U.S. Postal Service’s media mail to ship your books. It will be affordable for you as in most cases, books will be heavier, and this will incur high courier charges. However, it may be time-consuming and require additional efforts on your part. At least in the initial days of the business, it is recommended that you send your shipments through the media mail.

However, if a customer wants overnight delivery or urgent mail, you can avail the help of courier providers like:

✦ FedEx
✦ UPS

Tip: If you are going to send books through a private player on a regular basis, negotiate the rates for a better bargain.

Various Schemes

Offer various schemes like bargains, bids, offers, discounts, etc., which will encourage people to buy your books. Offer gift coupons, codes, and certificates for buying your books. Allow people to write book reviews and reward the best ones every month. Give discounts to regular customers and have referral discounts. Arrange to have contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, etc.

Tip: Having a post-holiday clearance book sale will help you clear the book stocks.

Payment

Price your books wisely. Take the cost of your investment, add your profit to it, and then quote the cost of a book. Give competitive quotes as many online users compare prices of books on various websites before placing the order. However, don’t go too low on the prices such that you will incur loss on the transaction. Add the cost of transport, packaging, and delivery service to the books. Once you expand your business, you can offer free shipping. Every book will be priced based on how unique it is, its availability, and special features.

Tip: Whether hardcover or a paperback version, don’t sell a new book at the price of its secondhand version.

Promote Your Business

As most of your audience will be online, try to focus your promotion efforts in that direction. Pay for online ad banners and ads. Get listed on websites that offer a database of services like yours. This will be more helpful for your business. Needless to say, exploit social media thoroughly for the advantage of your business. Ask your family members and friends to promote your social media pages. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, Pinterest, etc., to reach out to your target market. You can send your business cards with the books. You can also put up posters at cafés, grocery stores, library, etc.

Tip: Pay for Facebook ads to reach out to the bibliophiles.

Now that you know how to set up an online bookstore, these come next:

» Partner with suppliers, distributors, writers, etc., for promotion of books.

» Include various lists like bestsellers, popular, award winners, etc.

» Keep yourself abreast with the trends in the online book market.

» Know what is selling and incorporate the strategy in your business.

» Study what is working for your competitors and what is not.

» Keep innovating to stay ahead of the competition.

Once your business is established, think about various ways of expanding it. You may introduce other categories of products along with books like stationery, bookmarks, coffee mugs, etc. Try to start a chain of retail stores so that people will identify and recall your online store once they read the store name. This can help rake up your profit.

Ways to Set Up an Online Furniture Store

images-12Selling furniture online has become a lucrative business as more and more customers are preferring to shop from the comfort of their home. There are many websites which offer competitive prices for the same brands of furniture. If you too want to capitalize on this business, you will have to first complete certain registration and licensing formalities. Ensure that you have a business name that would seem easy for customers to remember. Also, you will have to source initial funds for the business.

These days, resorting to crowd funding for any online business venture is fast gaining in popularity. You will also have to prepare a business plan which will help you take the right decisions. However, in order to be successful in this business, you must know exactly how to initiate it. Hence, if you are planning to open an online furniture store, we will tell you how to go about setting it up.

Decide Furniture

Since there are numerous types of furniture in the market, you will have to decide the type of furniture you plan to sell. Apart from this, you will also have to decide if you intend to sell used or new furniture. There are online sellers who even auction antique and vintage furniture. Also, there are too many different pieces of furniture like couch, table, chair, shelf, recliners, bar stools, beds, bean bags, etc. While it is recommended that you concentrate on one type of furniture initially, you will still have to order separate pieces. For example, if you want to concentrate on wooden furniture, you will have to order tables, chairs, beds, etc., in multiple numbers.

Understand Market
Before venturing in this business you will have to carry out a thorough market research. Suppose you are going to sell home furniture, then you will have to understand who your target market is, its composition, the furniture items that rake in maximum sales, offers that entice the customers into making a buying decision, peak periods of business, etc. All this will help you get an insight into the furniture business. This will enable you to incorporate those furniture items that have a high demand and are appreciated by customers.

Sourcing Furniture

You will have to source furniture for your online shop. For this, you can either approach the brands directly or even tap wholesale furniture shops. With the growing popularity of e-commerce, large furniture brands will not be averse to offering furniture through your online shop. Also, such branded furniture is usually popular among customers, and you are bound to receive a favorable response for it. On the other hand, approaching wholesale furniture shops will prove to be extremely cost-effective, and you will be able to earn a good margin of profit over the sales.

Storing Furniture

Though you will save a lot of money by setting up a virtual store, you will have to hire a warehouse for storing the furniture. Furniture pieces are usually not small in size, hence, you will have to spend a considerable amount on hiring a large enough warehouse. You can approach wholesale shop owners or furniture brands to allow you to store furniture at their warehouses against a nominal cost. If this is not possible, you can have a direct arrangement with the vendor to dispatch the furniture from their storage to the customers as per the order. This way, you will be able to save on the cost of storing the furniture.

Website Development and Design

You will have to hire a professional website designer to develop your e-commerce website. Hire a person who has undertaken similar jobs in the past or else, it will take a long time before your website actually goes live. Study competitor websites, and understand the elements essential for an online furniture retail website. You will also have to make online catalogs for each product, providing photos of various views, materials used, dimensions, description, etc. You will also have to mention whether the product is available. Apart from that, have filters for color, brand, type, make, material, etc., so that customers will be able to get to the thing they are looking for in a matter of few clicks. You can even create a mobile app for your e-commerce website.

Shopping Cart Software

You will have to buy a shopping cart software for your website. There are many online websites which offer various packages. You can buy one which suits your budget. Many of these software are customization, and you will be able to modify them to suit your business requirement. Since all the transactions will be handled electronically, you will not have to worry about manual errors. Also, it will auto generate an invoice when a customer places an order. Hence, you should not be apprehensive about investing in a good shopping cart software.

Promotion and Advertising

You must undertake various marketing and advertising activities to promote your business. Start pages for your business on various social media websites, and link them back to your business websites. Keep updating information and photos of your products, and new additions to keep the customers hooked to the pages. Invest in paid Facebook ads to reach out to your customers. Undertake Internet marketing and banners. Also, employ traditional means of advertising like print ads in newspapers and magazines, and radio sponsorship. Keep sending out press releases for any new achievement of your business.

Packaging and Dispatching

You will have to hire help for dismantling and packing the furniture pieces for delivery. This will be an added cost, hence, try to price the product accordingly. Also, you will have to tie-up with a good courier company who can deliver the furniture to the desired customer locations. Try to hire the same agency for both domestic and international dispatches. Also, as international shipments will increase your delivery expenses, it is advisable that you carry forward that expense in the form of additional fees.

Business Expansion
After successfully running an online furniture business, you can venture into other allied product lines like stationary, home decor, upholstery, bedding, etc. You can also venture into pet furniture business. Many people are searching for all these things when they move into a new house. People often like it when they find all that they need in a single store, and hence, this idea will definitely fetch good sales. Also, if you can start a chain of actual stores supplementing the online business, people will easily be able to identify with the brand. Prompt response to customer complaints and repairs will also help create trust among customers.

You will also need to…
❖ … get an inventory software.

❖ … upload your delivery, return, and refund policies on the Internet.

❖ … introduce discount offers and schemes for customers.

❖ … offer warranty with the furniture.

❖ … host online auctions/bids to sell products at a good price.
It is vital to remember that online businesses are highly dependent on a positive image and reputation. Hence, ensure that you are not receiving negative reviews, as they can hamper your business. Also, employ SMS and email marketing to inform your existing customers about new products.

Tips on Buying a Beauty Business

download-14One of the biggest investments you will ever make besides buying a house is buying a business. And the way to achieve your goal is going through an agent or business sales executive which in turn will unite you with your ideal business. These experienced professionals are experts in their field and will give you the best advice and find you a beauty salon at the right price. When is comes to business sale listings, the average Australian business purchase involves questions you need to ask the seller and you need to negotiate around fifty four clauses, and several individual points to investigate, as well as several key issues you will need to review.

Around ninety percent of people that search around to buy a business, according to the industry statistics, fail to complete a purchase, and some people end up checking listings for a beauty business for sale for months on end and still end up not buying a business. The reason being for this is that most people searching are first time buyers of which have totally underestimated how much goes into each stage of the purchasing process. First time buyers are not adequately equipped and become overwhelmed when having to make decisions and facing new situations. When you start searching for a beauty salon that is on the market you need to be properly prepared. Bear in mind that one cannot guess their way to success, it takes a lot of know how to be a success. Although when you do find a good business opportunity the rewards are great, although you still cannot take this for granted. It is easy to make a good decision when you have the right information about buying a business, and if you do not have the information needed you will most definitely end up buying a white elephant. You need to know all the essentials and take intelligent on how to buy a good beauty salon in Australia. Even though you have chosen expert consultants, you still need to have knowledge and each stage of the process in order to handle the situations you may encounter, and prevent yourself from buying a business that may become your worst nightmare.

When buying a beauty salon you need know all the key information concerned with the business, the strategies you need to follow as well as the right resources to use. If you are a first time buyer, you will need expert advice in order to make the right decision. You will need to devise a business plan, take a look at the financial spreadsheets, have knowledge with regards to legal agreements and have read up some case studies.

Ways to Develop Business Marketing Strategy

download-13A well-designed marketing strategy is invariably the key aspect of a successful business. While big companies have countless sheets of strategies, small business marketing plans can fit within a few pages. Regardless of the number of strategies, they are still important for the business to have a direction and a purpose. Refer these plans every month or every quarterly to ensure you are on track.

How to Begin

The majority of your small business marketing strategy should include a whole year. This helps small companies to adhere to the plan more solidly. Planning for a few years can create confusion and haste to achieve goals, which can be detrimental for a small business. Much can happen in a single year, which is why it is better to focus more on a single annual term.

Take time to develop your marketing strategy; a few months at the least. The biggest challenge of small business marketing is determining what, why and how to do. Once you have a concrete plan set up, executing it is generally less challenging. A high quality strategy will prove itself when the business takes off.

Hiring a Business Consultant

Hiring an experienced business consultant is often a good idea. Although they can be pricey, they are worth the investment if it means big turnovers. It is especially a good idea to contact a business consultant when the company is a start-up or if you are looking to launch new products or target a different market than the usual. For example, if your company targets the healthcare market and you are considering the fashion market as a new venture, consultancy agencies are better equipped to design your marketing strategy to your new consumers. An experienced business consultant is able to apply previous consulting experiences; this fluency with different business models and industries can only be achieved by the venturing company’s manager after years of experience, while the consultant can give the same advice without wasting time on trial and error.

Involve the Entire Team

When creating a small business marketing strategy, involve the entire company team. Normally, you would expect to keep your plan hidden away and reveal it only to the top players, however get feedback from all sectors of your company such as manufacturing, personnel, customer service, finance and so on. Doing this is highly beneficial as every department will be able to give you realistic suggestions and advice on areas of their specialization. Otherwise, apart from shorter meetings, you may have unrealistic plans laid out.

Your small business marketing plan is the radar of your company’s goals and visions. There may be areas where you would want to alter your plans as time goes on, but the documented strategy is like a map, directing you to your destination of success.