Opening a beauty supply online store doesn't have to be difficult. You can opt for a total store solution using one of the established store sites (examples are amazon store and yahoo store) or you can go it alone. The money you save in fees by going it alone can be used to cover marketing expenses. You don't have to spend a fortune to get your store online, nor do you have to be a computer whiz. Just take it one step at a time.
Items you will need
- Business Name
- State Tax ID Number
- Domain Name
- Web Hosting
- Website with Shopping Cart
- Supplies to Sell
- Payment Processor
- Marketing Plan
Register your business name with the state. This can often be done online at the state government website. Usually a one-time fee, actual costs vary from state to state.
Acquire a Sales Tax identification number from the state. This number makes it possible to purchase inventory at better prices from reputable providers while keeping you legal. Sales tax is typically paid monthly. This too, can often be done online at the state government website. Again, the cost varies from state to state.
Contact the city or county clerk to see what, if any, licensing is required. Larger urban areas are more likely to have a city website where this information is readily available. Smaller, rural areas are less likely to have a website or to require local licensing. City and/or county fees tend to be annual fees.
Reserve your domain name (business name) online. Try to keep the words 'beauty supply' in the name. It may take several tries to find a name that isn't already taken. Do get a .com name (as opposed to .org, etc.) if at all possible. This is paid annually and can be set to auto-renew or paid for extended terms.
Locate product to sell. Decide now whether you'll purchase the inventory and store it yourself or using the services of a drop-shipper who will store the inventory and fill the orders for you. If you use a drop-shipper, you won't have to pay for products until they sell.
Decide now whether you wish to sell on your own site or to take advantage of an established online site. Using an established site can get you more customers quicker because of the established marketing already in place. Fees, however, can be substantial for this type of store. These fees are a monthly expense.
Choose a payment processor. While Paypal is one of the most used online payment processors, there are others to choose from. If you do your own site, you must set up payment processing. No matter what payment method you choose, there will be fees deducted from transactions. If you go with an established site, payment processing will be included in the fees.
Choose a shopping cart provider. Many web hosting companies include at least two shopping cart options. If you are going to sell on your own, you'll be responsible for setting up your website and including the shopping cart function. If you go with an established sales site, everything you need for selling (aside from inventory) is included in the fees.
Choose a web host. This is where your beauty supplies online store will reside. If you are going to do your own site, you must pay for hosting separately. Many web hosts provide built in website tools including ecommerce software and shopping cart add-ons at no charge. While yearly hosting plans are available, many people opt for a monthly plan, especially when just beginning a new business.
Build your website. Your website should reflect your style and personality as well as the products you'll be selling. There are free website templates available online featuring beauty supply themes.
Stock your website. Don't be afraid to play with product layout until you are happy with it. This could easily be the most time consuming step, especially if you intend to stock a large quantity of items.
Fine tune your beauty supplies online store. Set featured products and any special pricing or coupons, and make sure customers can easily sign up for your email list.
Test your online store. Put a product or two in the shopping cart. Sign up for the email list. Is it easy to get around in your store? Do the links work?
Alert potential customers and let them know you are open for business. Send out press releases both online and in print, put up flyers and add a signature line to your email correspondence.
Write reviews and articles related to beauty supplies. Include a link to your store and submit the reviews and articles to online article directories.
Check out classified ads and other paid forms of advertising.
Treat your store like the business it is. Put time and effort into it if you intend to see results.
Do take advantage of all the online tutorials available for website building and ecommerce. Do tweak and/or change your store display, prices and policies as you see fit. Do realize that building a customer base takes time. Do be honest and sincere in dealing with customers.
Don't pour a lot of money into a marketing method until you've proved it to work for you. Don't fall for the readily available 'instant store instant success' traps. Don't sign up with any drop-shipper until you've thoroughly researched their reputation.