Well, roughly two months in to my new online shopping venture and I’m discovering just how much I underestimated everything! How much it costs to offer a reasonable range of products, how many rules and regulations there are to sell knives in Australia, how much work it would take to get an ecommerce site up and going, how many distractions there are along the way, and how much there is to know about knives! My site is operational, but it still needs some tinkering and I only have a product range of just FIVE! So I need to multiply that number by about 100 and sort out the niggling bugs before I move into the next phase, which is actually selling products!
Some things I have learned so far..
- If you budget $5,000 to start a business it’ll probably be closer to $50,000!!
- E-commerce websites are more complicated than most other websites. Actually they’re probably not that much more complicated, they’re just different to work on, which means lots of new things to learn! So I would probably suggest paying someone to help you get started. There’s plenty of able and willing programmers out there on sites like Guru and Freelancer.
- Some Australian wholesalers will not deal with you if you don’t have a bricks and mortar store, which just blows my mind. It’s not because they have an exclusive range of products which can’t be bought from anywhere else either as there are other distributors quite happy to deal with me. So I can only conclude that those wholesalers who don’t deal with online only stores have such fantasticly profitable businesses that they can afford to turn away customers. Which then makes me think that I should be building a wholesale business in Australia rather than a retail store online!
- Following on from the Australian wholesalers thing, I’m surprised at how many of my emails are ignored completely or answered weeks later. A few have been really great but they’re the minority so far. Any communication I have had with American wholesalers has been fast and helpful. Which again, makes me think there’s gaps in the market here in Australia which could be filled. If it takes a wholesaler 3 weeks to reply to an email from a potential customer they’re either really busy and don’t need any more customers or they’re really disorganized, either way it tells me there’s opportunities out there.
- Photographing your products is so much more than pointing any old camera at something and clicking! Luckily I have a little photography experience and a decent digital SLR camera, but it has still been a giant learning curve for me. My photographs of knives will improve over time but I think they’re fine for now (see the pic of the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate survival knife at the top of the post for an example).
- Knives are cool. I have always appreciated well designed objects and always had a thing for good looking Japanese kitchen knives, but there’s so many more beautiful knives out there! Seriously, I think I have become a knife connoisseur! It’s art that cuts things
So, as I add more products and sort out the niggles I will then go into marketing the website. My main strategy in the beginning will be to use cost per click providers like Google Adwords as their results are measurable and you can be very specific with who you want to see your ads. I’m also considering an eBay store to compliment my e-commerce store in the beginning but I haven’t made a final decision on that yet.
Oh I have also started a Pinterest page here too. It’s where I share all kinds of knives, cooking things and outdoor things.