Though brick-and-mortar businesses do not have to compete against all of cyberspace as virtual boutiques do, opening a business online yields several advantages. A virtual boutique, for example, offers value by virtue of low overhead. Education is an added benefit: Virtual boutiques can dedicate unlimited space to informing consumers about their product offerings. Opening such a business still requires following many of the same procedures required for a traditional business.
Get a business permit and register your online store. Research your specific state’s requirements for selling goods. Getting a business license in Alaska, for example, requires filling out an application. A few components of the application include selecting a business name, paying licensing fees and giving ownership information. Though online businesses do not require licensing such as zoning permits, all sellers must submit tax information and a business name to the correct authorities in order to get a business permit.
Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN enables you to file tax returns and make tax payments for your business. Apply for this number through the IRS via website or telephone.
Develop relationships with the wholesale providers of goods you intend to sell. Discuss warranties, price, shipping options and bulk discount opportunities, and ask for references of customers who use their services. Mention the price offered by other vendors when negotiating price.
Choose an inventory stocking method and buy products. Determine if you will buy a storage space for the inventory or if you have ample space in your home. Use inventory tracking software such as TaskClear or inFlow inventory to establish how many items remain in stock. Establish reorder points to determine when you should restock inventory.
Design the website. Create an attractive layout that immediately signals to the customer what you are selling: Make the homepage with tabs including the names of the merchandise you are selling, contact information and an "about" tab, which gives a narrative of you and how you started your business. Choose a domain name that also provides this clear signal. Selecting a name related to the goods sold also boosts your search engine rankings. Create a site that is easy to navigate, has minimal graphic interfaces and loads quickly.
Create additional content for your website that is related to your business and product offerings. Give the consumer information as to how your product will improve their lives; link to scientific studies, government findings and product reviews. Consider maintaining a blog about recent company developments in which you update consumers about events, giveaways and other promotional activities.
Ensure your e-store has a secure encryption method for all customer transactions. Sign up to receive protection from a reliable third-party service that offers safe and secure payment options. This measure also gives consumers peace of mind about buying from your virtual boutique.