In these hot summer days, we all love a cool beverage or a refreshing herbal tea to stay hydrated. Of course, the market for specialist drinks has become much more varied over the last decade, with your luxury coffee beans, gin infusions and juice cleanse diets all becoming hugely popular. Every beverage has its niche market, and that’s what makes ecommerce such a useful and viable option for entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry. The days of heading to the local supermarket to buy your aloe juice or medicinal hawthorn tea are over – many shoppers now prefer to buy their products online from a specialist retailer, which is great news for online store owners. Avoid the hassles associated with opening a brick-and-mortar shop by starting your drink business online – here’s how.
The online beverage sales industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years, thanks to the increase in households with internet connections and the proliferation of online shopping. Time-poor consumers want the convenience that ordering their caffeine, alcohol, or soft drink fix online will bring them. But even with an online business, you can’t afford to skip market research. The odds may be in your favour, but nonetheless an awareness of the supply and demand situation in your particular area is crucial.
Your business stands the highest chance of success if you can manage to find a gap in the market that’s not being adequately filled. So where to start? Here are some time-tested market research strategies that could help you find the answers:
You could also consider handing out free samples of your product to gauge the reaction – if you’re developing a new product yourself, then the taste-test step is very important.
Meanwhile, you can also do your research online using keyword research tools to find out what online shoppers are looking for. This keyword tool gives you 750+ free keyword suggestions that could help to inform both your business and content marketing strategy.
I promise! Fresh-faced entrepreneurs have so many options when it comes to ecommerce solutions. The first thing to consider when making your decision is whether you want to go hosted or self-hosted. A hosted ecommerce solution runs on a third party server and includes full-package options like Shopify and BigCommerce. A self-hosted solution, on the other hand, uses software that you run on your own machine, for example WooCommerce or Magento.
For first-time entrepreneurs, the advantage of using a hosted ecommerce solution is that they’re very easy to use, and you never need to worry about installing updates or anything like that. With Shopify you can open an online store in a matter of minutes and choose from hundreds of professional design templates that will show off your products in the best possible light. There are certainly some benefits to having a reliable ecommerce system with unlimited bandwidth and on-tap support, particularly if you’ve never set up a website before.
If you’re a more experienced digital entrepreneur who prefers to code and customise, then a self-hosted solution would work equally well for you.
One of the easiest ways to start selling online is with drop shipping. Some shy away from the idea of setting up their own store because they imagine the initial investment in stock and storage to be huge. But the beauty of drop shipping is that you don’t stock any products at all – instead you partner with a wholesale supplier who manages the inventory for you. All you have to do is ping across your order and shipping details as they come in.
Of course, this option may be less viable if you’re selling a homemade product that you’ve formulated yourself. But if you’re planning on buying wholesale anyway, then it’s certainly worth considering. Drop shipping is an efficient and trusted model – and the key thing is it doesn’t require a large down payment.
Be sure to search extensively, as there are lots of specialist food and drink drop shippers out there. You will also need to ensure that you comply with all legal regulations regarding the shipping of consumable goods. Check out Wholesale Deals and eSources to get an idea of what’s out there.
If you hadn’t considered it already, crowdfunding can provide a great alternative route to funding a new business venture that doesn’t involve accumulating lots of debt. Crowdfunding platforms use rewards-based incentives to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to raise money from multiple sources, in exchange for products, gifts and other exclusive prizes. It’s a legitimate way to raise business finance, if you do it right. Take a look at how milkshake company Canny did it.
Crowdfunding through a platform like Crowdcube usually takes around 3-4 weeks from application to going live. The pitch creation stage is particularly important, as this is how you will convince investors to get involved. Crowdcube has some great advice on preparing your pitch.
Once live, your campaign will accumulate investments for 45 days until you reach (or don’t reach) your target, after which it will close. Investors then have one week to review everything before the funds are transferred. If you’re feeling inspired, you can start your pitch here .
Launching an online store is very exciting. But then comes the real, ongoing work: marketing. Here are the digital marketing techniques you can’t afford to ignore:
Do you feel ready to start your online beverage business? How will you stand out from the crowd? We’d love to hear from you – please share your thoughts and experiences below.
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