Opening a Online Store: What to do first.
I have retired from the corporate world and decided to open an online store. This blog accounts my trials, tribulations and hopefully successes.
I chose religious gifts to sell. Why, I don’t know. I became interested in ancient oil lamps and thought that everyone else would be interested also. That was a poor judgment call. Some people are interested and I am certain that I will find more of them. I soon realized that I needed more than biblical oil lamps in order for my store to succeed. I had no idea what though. I looked at other things and other websites and decided to branch out into other religious gifts. It is too soon to tell if my strategy will work.
The devil is in the details. First, you need a plan on what to sell, then you need a website, then a shopping cart so that people can buy from you and finally you need a plan to publicize the website. After all, any search for just about anything turns up more than 100,000 pages. I am still embroiled in the details. More blogs to follow detailing the path that I have taken.
The first details to be dealt with after your initial decision is to get a business license, a tax resale license from your state and to get an EIN from the federal government. In Michigan, it is only a few dollars to register your business. You need to go down to the County courthouse, fill out a form with the business name and pay some money. You can get an EIN online within a matter of minutes from the federal government. In Michigan, it took 2 weeks to get the tax resale license. You fill out the information online and the state mails it to you. When these 3 things are done, you are in business. You are now officially a retailer and can order products for your store at wholesale prices.
Now, the question arises of where are all those wholesalers. Well, I can tell you that they are not found by doing a search for wholesalers on the internet. The internet is full of scams. There are websites that will take your money and give you little or nothing in return. Beware of websites that do not ask for proof that you are a business. They are not wholesalers and you will not get wholesale items or prices from them. Wholesalers do have websites but few can be found by google searches.
So, how do you find legitimate wholesalers? There are some businesses out there who will for a price match you with wholesalers. If you know your product and it has a brand name associated with it such as George’s jellies, pick up the phone, and call them. Ask who their distributors are. For my business though, there was no brand name associated with the product. This makes it a bit more difficult but wholesalers are out there. There are retail trade shows for gifts. For instance, Atlanta has a gift mart in the late summer every year. I couldn’t go but I did go online and check out all of the wholesalers that were exhibiting there. From there, I wrote down their names, looked them up directly on the internet, and either gave them a call or signed up to be a retailer. Warning, some will take your word for your EIN and resale license but others require a faxed copy of your EIN and tax resale license. I scanned my documents so that I could quickly e-mail the documents to the wholesalers.
With a ready supply of product available, you are ready to sell. Congratulations, you are in business. The down side is that usually now, is when money starts flowing out and until the store is set up, there is no money coming in.
Next to be discussed is the setting up of the store, and how much product to buy.