Starting an online business can be both an exciting venture and a new challenge. For ecommerce sellers who are passionate about animals, starting an online pet store has the potential to be the best of both worlds – ecommerce and pets.
Online retail stores have taken off in popularity in recent years, however, for those new to online business, it can be difficult to know where to start. Let’s review a few items before we discuss how to start an online pet store.
Before Starting Your Online Business
Starting an online business actually begins long before you register a name for your company or listing products. Launching an ecommerce store means first having a solid understanding of what the business will look like once it’s up and running.
While it can be hard to put every aspect of a potential business into perspective for beginners, it’s important to consider area like:
- Product selection
- Product sourcing
- Order fulfillment
You must also consider how you’ll accept payments safely from customers. Here are some potential questions you may want to ask yourself before starting your online business.
Starting Your Online Pet Store
Being an ecommerce retailer is exhilarating and frightening, sometimes at the same time. So, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. There are many aspects to starting an online store. Here are the two you should start:
Deciding on a business structure is often complicated, and it’s typically advised that you consult with a professional to determine which is right for you. When choosing a business structure, you have a number of options including:
- Sole Proprietor
If you decide to structure your business as a sole proprietorship as opposed to an LLC or Corporation, it’s important to be aware that your personal assets are not protected. This means if you’re ever sued and unable to pay your debts, your personal assets could be seized. If you don’t choose to structure your business as an LLC or Corporation, the IRS will automatically consider your business a sole proprietorship.
Next, you’ll need to decide what products you want to sell. Online pet stores are known for selling a variety of items such as pet food, grooming products like shampoos and brushes, litter boxes, bedding, and toys. When choosing a product, it’s important to think of your desired customer base and research competitors to see what pet products are currently selling well.
After determining what types of products to sell, you’ll need to find a reliable source for your products. This process will likely require a bit of research on your part. Make sure you look into the quality and price of the products sold by suppliers (or materials if you are manufacturing your own products), as well as their own customer reviews and ratings.
You may even consider dropshipping pet products. Many new ecommerce sellers find this method to be a cost-effective way to get their feet wet. With dropshipping, products are shipped directly from a third-party supplier to your retail customers. Dropshipping can be convenient for both sellers and customers.
If you’re unsure where to begin with product sourcing, consider looking at our product sourcing guide.
It can be difficult to come up with a creative and catchy business name that will catch the eye of potential shoppers. Fortunately, there are ecommerce business name generators to help with idea generation. Try to have a few different options, because you’ll have to look up the names to make sure they aren’t already taken. Also, remember to register it with either your county clerk or state agency.
Where to Sell Your Pet Products
There are a few different options for where to sell products online. You may like the idea of starting with a marketplace, like Amazon or eBay. Marketplaces make it fairly simple to get your business up and running. It’s just a matter of filling out some online forms, being approved, and then listing products.
Shopping carts like WooCommerce and Shopify allow you to be creative with the pet store you build. They offer features and plug-ins (some free, some paid) that give you far more options for customization than marketplaces. That said, if you go with this option, expect it to take longer to get your pet store launched and you’ll spend a ton of time marketing your new site.
You may want to sell on multiple platforms, or “go multichannel,” by selling on more than just one marketplace or shopping cart. Some research about platforms and a little bit of trial and error will help you find the best places to sell your products online.
Create Great Product Listings
Product listings should be evocative and effective. The description needs to be accurate, detailed, and of high-quality. They should remain brief yet engaging, while providing all important information about your products, including clear, detailed images. You want the product descriptions to do the selling for you.
Marketing Your Business
Marketing is how you promote your online pet store. There are a variety of marketing strategies that are effective for ecommerce businesses, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), paid advertising, content marketing (blog and social media posts), email marketing, and user-generated content (customer reviews and social shares).
Determining which strategy (or combination of strategies) works best for you requires that you try new methods, test them, and then adjust, as needed. Marketing is an ongoing process that doesn’t have an end. What works for your brand today may not tomorrow. The important thing to remember is that marketing is ever-evolving. Staying on top of it, refreshing strategies and making adjustments is just part of the ecommerce world.
Final Thoughts about the Online Pet Store Market
Online pet stores have taken off in recent years, but it’s becoming, what some may consider, a saturated market. Be prepared to work around this by tailoring your products to your consumers and consider going micro-niche to avoid too much competition.
Starting your own online pet store has the potential to be very fulfilling and profitable when done correctly. By preparing properly and covering all your bases, your business can quickly become established and productive.