Love sports and want to turn that passion into a career? Starting an online sporting goods store is a great way for athletes to earn a good living from home. Plus, they’ll get the satisfaction of helping other sports enthusiasts find the clothing and products they need to embrace their passions.
Starting any kind of business can be challenging. With proper research, though, it’s easy for sports enthusiasts to learn the ropes of opening a sporting goods eCommerce store before they even create a website. Read on to find everything new business owners need to know.
Do Plenty of Research
Before diving right in, start out by doing some research. Think of researching as warming up before a big game. Researching the local markets, the competition, and available resources are the best ways for new business owners to set themselves up for success.
The good news about starting an online sporting goods store is that there are plenty of resources available. That means there’s no need to learn the ins and outs of web design before opening up the proverbial doors. There are plenty of options from Creatitive that can help new eCommerce business owners get started on the right foot.
Come Up With a Business Plan
One of the great things about starting an eCommerce store instead of opening a brick-and-mortar retail establishment is that it takes far less startup capital. There’s no need to worry about renting a storefront, paying utilities, decorating the store, or storing merchandise. All business owners need is a well-designed website and a solid business plan.
What Is a Business Plan?
A business plan is like a roadmap for starting a successful company. It includes a written description of what business owners plan to accomplish and how they will do it. A good business plan will include:
- A mission statement
A description of specific products
Basic financial projections
A marketing plan
Specific strategies for accomplishing goals
The business’s structure
Find a Niche Market
Most successful online sporting goods stores cater to niche markets. That might mean targeting student athletes as a primary audience or focusing on providing gear for just a few different sports. There are several benefits of operating in a niche market. They include:
- Reduced competition
Enhanced customer relationships
Fewer marketing resources and expenses
Improved brand recognition
More personal satisfaction from business ownership
Once business owners have established themselves within their niche markets, it will be easier for them to expand to offer other products or services. Starting out as a general sporting goods store, on the other hand, makes it more difficult to create tailored marketing campaigns that can compete with well-established online and in-person stores.
Create a Stellar Website
Having a good website is important for any modern business. Since eCommerce stores operate exclusively online, having a stand-out website that’s both user-friendly and search engine optimized to make it easy to find is absolutely essential. Unless they have dedicated experience with web design, business owners should leave this part of the planning process to the pros. Ideally, they should find web designers that can also help with SEO, digital marketing, data analytics, and other aspects of online site maintenance.
Offer Multiple Payment Methods
A good eCommerce website will offer customers plenty of payment flexibility. At a minimum, the store should accept credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal payments. Accepting multiple forms of payment makes life easier for customers, increases conversion rates, and makes switching over to international markets easier after the business has established a solid local consumer base.
Find a Reliable Shipping Partner
Most eCommerce store owners use a method known as drop shipping to supply their customers with goods. Instead of keeping the inventory in a warehouse and sending it out themselves, they wait until a customer has placed an order and then make arrangements with a shipping partner to have the product mailed directly to the customer’s home or office.
The effectiveness of drop shipping as a business model relies on having a reliable shipping partner. Customers expect to get their goods on time and in perfect condition. Research shipping partners in advance to find one that has a reputation for professionalism and efficiency.
Business owners who prefer to use more traditional models can order goods through wholesaling companies then store them in their own warehouses. This adds a good deal of complexity to the process, but it also gives business owners more control over inventory management, shipping, and handling. Those who prefer to go this route should still consider hiring a fulfillment service provider to help.
Launch the Site
Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which often schedule and market grand opening celebrations well in advance, the best way to start an eCommerce store is simply to make plans, design the website, and launch it to the public. Business owners will still need to focus a lot of attention on marketing efforts as their online stores get established and some even offer grand opening promotions such as giving away branded merchandise with orders placed in the first month after the site launch or by offering discounts.
As the store gets established and attracts more business, most business owners will start expanding their target audiences and selling new products. Keep in mind that building brand recognition and establishing a loyal following is a process. It takes time, patience, and an effective marketing strategy. Don’t give up if the store isn’t making its owner millions in its first month, or even its first year.
The Bottom Line
Opening an online sporting goods store is a great way for athletes and sports enthusiasts to turn their passions into successful, fulfilling careers. Just like any business, a new eCommerce store will require a lot of work and some investment capital. It will pay off in the long run, though, as business owners begin to profit from all that hard work and network with others in the industry to share their love of the business.