Starting an online sports card store requires a great deal of effort, but it can offer an opportunity for an entrepreneur who is passionate about sports and collecting. Create an online sports card dreamland where a card may spark a memory of an important game or fond times with a loved one while attending sporting events. Make your virtual store visitor get lost in a moment when they gaze upon their favorite player's rookie card. Setting up an online store may seem like less work than opening an actual storefront, but it requires a great deal of time, knowledge, and effort, as does any business. Take advantage of the low start-up costs with an online store to add to your inventory. Build a large and varied collection to compete on the Internet which is a vast sea of competition.
Items you will need
- Business plan
- Legal documents
- Accounting system
- Sports card inventory
- Computer scanner
- High speed internet connection
- Online auction sites
- E-commerce website
- Trade publications
How to Start an Online Sports Card Store
Research and write a business plan. All businesses need a business plan whether it is for their own use as an outline of their plans, to present their idea to friends for input, or to present to investors to secure financing. For an online sports card store, it may be for personal use, since the start up costs will not be as high as with a brick-and-mortar store. It is still important. Prepare a summary, goals and mission statement, a summary of your expertise, a description of your products/services, a market overview, a description of the competition, a marketing plan, and your current financial records. Compile a projected financial outlook based on analysis of your current outlook and your anticipated income and expenses. Use this information to gain a clear picture of where you are and how to achieve your goals. Focus on a strong marketing plan, because the competition online is going to be your biggest challenge.
Establish your business as a legal entity. If doing business under a different name than your own, you will need to register a business name. Determine if you going to establish a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or a corporation. If you are unsure what will be the best option for your business now and into the future, you can either discuss it with a lawyer or an adviser from your local small business administration. File any necessary forms particular to your form of business with local, state, and federal authorities. For an online business, you may decide that a sole proprietorship is all that is necessary. Think of a creative name for your store and file a doing business as form with your state government to attain a business license for that name.
Set up an accounting system using either a computer program or a traditional accounting ledger. If you are unsure of how to set up a system, seek the assistance of an accountant. It is advisable to work with an accountant as a business person since there are ever-changing tax laws and procedures. Take advantage of the online transactions to assist you with your record keeping. Print off each business transaction and file it.
Assess your current sports card inventory. Organize it meticulously. Scan all of your cards so that they can be presented online. Use a computer scanner and computer to scan the cards. Scan the front and back of the card. Customers will feel confident purchasing a card if they can see the condition of the entire card. Organize the cards into years, rookie cards, sports teams, all stars, brands of cards, and star players. These are all popular with collectors. Compile a complete list of cards organized in this manner that collectors can print off from your website. Update this list regularly.
Decide if you will open your own online store or use an online auction site such as E-Bay to set up a store. An advantage to an online auction site is that it already gets a high volume of traffic. It will take more time to establish traffic on a new online storefront. However, once traffic is coming in, you will have more control over your brand by owning your own online store.
Follow the steps the particular online auction site requires if you choose to use one of these sites for your online sports card store. Carefully detail all of your policies, including returns and shipping. List cards or sets of cards that you believe will do well. Team collections is a good choice initially as everyone has a favorite sports team. Assess the performance of your cards on this site to decide whether to list more.
Acquire a domain and web host if you choose to set up your own online store. Design your website. If you are not skilled in web design, work with a web designer to create an e-commerce website. Provide a detailed description of your card inventory with images of the front and back of cards along with a secure method of purchasing cards online. Create a forum for customers to participate in an online community. It will provide you with insight into what your customers are interested in. State your shipping and returns policies clearly.
Attend trade shows and read publications specific to sports card collecting to stay current and develop an expertise in your field. Shop continuously for cards to maintain a competitive inventory. Dedicate a portion of your budget for acquiring cards. Ten percent is a good figure to aim for when re-investing in your collection. Solicit requests from your regular customers. Become the go-to person for finding rare cards. The quality and selection of your cards determines the quality of your store.
Keep records of what your customers purchase. Notify them when you locate a card that would fit into their collection.
Start out small and allow your business to grow into your overall vision.
- computer image by michele goglio from Fotolia.com