The consumer trend of buying organic and eco-friendly products is not slowing down any time soon. Many people consider it to be a lifestyle change rather than just a fad. Many people want to buy organic products, but are not in an area that has many organic retailers. This fact makes starting an online organic store a smart business idea. Starting this type of retail business requires careful planning, but it can be a lucrative venture.
Decide what types of organic products you want to sell. There are lots of options--chocolates, candies, bath and body products, cosmetics, clothing, baby items, food mixes, teas and coffees, herbs, jams and sauces.
Find out what permits you will need for your store. Requirements vary from state to state, but if you are selling food products that you produce, you will need a food handling permit and, most likely, access to a commercial kitchen. To sell items bought wholesale, you may need a resale license. No matter which types of organic products you sell, you will need a Federal Tax Identification Number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Contact your local IRS field office or go to IRS.gov to learn how to get one.
Get an assumed name certificate, also known as a DBA (“doing business as”) license, from your city or county clerk's office. Unless you are using your legal name as your organic company's name, you will need this certificate. For example, if your name is Joe Smith, you can name your company “Joe Smith Organics” without getting a DBA. If you wanted to name the company “Juicy Organics,” you would need a DBA.
Purchase a domain name and website hosting from a company such as GoDaddy.com. Try to get a hosting plan that allows you unlimited bandwidth. You can also choose to use an e-commerce service such as BuyItSellIt.com or Shopify.com.
Design your company's website. You can either do this with a website builder, which is available through many hosting companies, or hire a graphic and web designer.
Establish a wholesale account with an organic products distributor. To do this, you will either need to provide your tax ID number or a copy of your resale permit. Depending upon which types of products you want to sell, there are many reputable organic companies such as Sckoon (baby clothing), Organics Wholesale (personal care items), Yummy Earth (confections and candies) or eSutras (herbs, supplements and aromatherapy).
Designate a storage space for your products--you may need to lease out a small office or warehouse space, depending on what and how much you sell. Not all products can be feasibly stored in a home. For example, if you want to sell organic jams, you should have them stored in a temperature-controlled, dry warehouse instead of your basement. If you want to sell organic baby clothes, you may be able to get away with storing your inventory in a spare closet.
Price your products, accounting for not only the cost of the item, but overhead costs such as shipping supplies, website maintenance and labor. For example, if you buy a bottle of organic spice wholesale for $3, you could sell it for $7.95. This would cover the cost of the item and help account for your other expenses. To remain competitive, other items such as clothing, may only have a 30 percent to 50 percent markup.
Melinda Gaines has been a freelance writer since 2006, with work appearing online for YellowPages and other websites. Her areas of expertise include business, beauty, fashion and sports. Gaines attended the University of Houston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in sport administration.