Starting a retail business selling products to consumers is super easy these days. The barrier to entry has never been lower than it is today.
We’re assuming you own a computer and a smartphone. Those things are basically essential to life at this point. Beyond those two basic pieces of technology gear, here are the types of software you’ll need to start a successful retail business.
The easiest way to get started in retail is to set up an online store. It’s very easy to do these days.
You can build your own WordPress, Squarespace, Wix store in a matter of a few hours. Once you set up a merchant account to accept credit cards, it’s fairly easy to hook that up as well.
Then there are platforms like Shopify where you don’t even have to build the website yourself. They have tons of templates that are beautiful and easy to use that you can just plug in your brand and products fairly quickly.
The drawback to starting with an online store is that it’s up to you to drive traffic to that website. That means you need to figure out how to do search engine optimization or SEO.
It may also mean you’ll need to pay for traffic. That means you’ll need to learn how to do search engine marketing, social media marketing, and pay per click (PPC).
You can also drive traffic by sharing your revenue in commissions in what’s called affiliate marketing. That means you are paying other people known as affiliates to drive traffic to your website.
When a customer buys something from your website using a link from one of your affiliates, you will pay that affiliate a commission. The huge advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to pay your affiliate until after you make a sale. In a way, you’re transferring the upfront marketing risk to the affiliate.
Listing on Marketplaces
Some online retailers skip building a website altogether. In fact, some make millions of dollars in sales a month without a website at all.
How are they able to do this? They sell on marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay that allow third-party sellers to list their products on their platform.
This strategy allows you to skip having to do SEO, SEM, pay for clicks or even pay an affiliate a commission. You’re basically transferring the marketing function on to Amazon and eBay and letting them drive the traffic to your products.
If you end up using this strategy, you will need software that will allow you to list your products on these marketplaces and manage your inventory from one place. There are platforms like Magento Enterprise that will allow you to have one database of products that you can list on multiple channels.
A really good Magento Enterprise alternative is Shopify Plus. Sellers on the Shopify Plus platform report higher sales growth and other upsides to this solution.
There are many reasons for this, but whatever the reasons are, they are contributing to the sales growth of the users. Some aspects include scalability, ease of use, template options and many other factors.
Brick and Mortar
You may not want an online presence at all. Maybe you like the traditional in-person customer sales experience. Even if that’s the case, you’ll still need software.
If you end up in a traditional brick and mortar retail store, you will need at least a point-of-sale software package for the front register. It’ll process your transactions, report your sales, generate receipts and manage inventory levels.
Maybe you want face-to-face interaction with your customers but don’t want the overhead of a brick and mortar store. The best option if that’s the case is setting up a table or booth at a flea market, farmer’s market, festivals and other events.
Again, even in this case, you will still need software. You could take only cash, but that will severely limit your sales. Research is pretty conclusive that businesses miss out on a ton of sales by not accepting credit cards.
If you want to take credit and debit cards, you’ll need to get a Square or Stripe account. Solutions like these will enable you to take credit cards on your smartphone.
They basically ship you a small device to connect to your phone. That little device will allow you to swipe or insert credit cards for orders.
Selling Retail Is Easy
The barrier to enter the retail business is now super low. Millions of small sellers are replacing the big box retail stores in large numbers.
In order to start a retail business doesn’t take much in terms of set up. If you have a computer and a smartphone, you just need a few software as a service products to get started.