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Before you go live with your online furniture business, you must have the logistics figured out. While you may have only a virtual showroom, you still need storage space, licenses and permits, and an e-commerce website. As you would with a brick-and-mortar business, develop a business plan to ensure you cover everything you will need.
Set up an e-commerce website, which will include a catalog that visitors can browse through to view the categories of furniture you sell. E-commerce websites use specialty shopping cart software, such as Zen Cart, osCommerce and Volusion. These software programs let you integrate product descriptions, shipping prices, and payment gateways such as PayPal or Google Checkout. You can also upload product photos.
You must secure relationships with furniture suppliers. Contact individual manufacturers, such as Ashley Furniture or Broyhill, to obtain proper authorization to list and sell their products at retail prices.
You must have enough storage space to accommodate both big and small furniture pieces. Other retailers may have rental storage space available in local shipping warehouses, but this may include a hefty monthly charge. Storage space could also be brokered with the furniture manufacturers who make the products you sell. A drop-shipping agreement could be made that allows you to "store" your furniture at the manufacturer's warehouse, sell it on your website, and have the manufacturer ship it to your customers when orders are placed.
Licenses and Permits
Licenses and permits to operate an online retail furniture business, especially if this business is conducted out of your home, may be required. A federal employer identification number (EIN) and "doing business as" (DBA) name also may be required for tax purposes and to be officially registered with your state. Contact your state's Secretary of State, Clerk of the State or Department of Commerce for information about necessary licenses and permits. The federal government's "Permit Me" tool at Business.gov generates a list of all federal, state and local licenses and permits needed when a zip code is entered.
Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.