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How To Open An Online Store (+8 E-Commerce Sites To Start!)

There are a lot of business ideas for online stores out there. And since nearly 2 billion people buy things online, an eCommerce store has a lot of potential customers. If you want to know how to open an online store, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how to get started (and what you can sell). 

How much does it cost to open an online store?

This will depend.

With sites like Etsy and Shopify, you can usually open an online store for less than $100, not including inventory. E-commerce businesses can easily start with $500 or less, especially if you can get your inventory for rock bottom prices.

Related: How to Start a Business Without a Loan

Depending on your city, county, and state, you may need a permit, license, and be able to collect sales tax to start an online store. Be sure to talk to an accountant, an attorney, and your secretary of state office to see what you’ll need specifically.

Some states may require an LLC or DBA as well, which you can usually file yourself online for less than a few hundred dollars. But before you do that, check with your state. Don’t spend more time and money than you have to to get started!

Related: Looking to Incorporate Your Business? Here’s the Pros and Cons of Corporations, LLCs and S-Corps

Usually, yes.

While many online platforms (like Etsy and Amazon) don’t require a business license to get started, your city, county, or state might. Some states require a business license if you plan on selling anything — even if you don’t profit right away.

Failure to do so can accrue fines or even jail time in serious situations. So it’s better to just check and get it done if needed.

Related: How To Start A Home-Based Business Online (And Be Profitable!)

Do I pay taxes if I sell online?

It depends. The basic rule for collecting sales tax from online sales is if your business has a physical presence in that state, you need to collect applicable sales taxes, even for online customers.

So, in other words, if you’re selling out of your basement in Texas, you’d need to collect sales tax from sales of customers in Texas. If you don’t have a physical presence, you usually don’t have to collect sales tax for online sales.

Can I sell online from home?

Wondering if you can sell online from home?

You sure can!

Many people start out selling items from their online store and store their inventory in their homes. You can use a basement, spare room, or really any corner that you can utilize in order to store the items you sell.

Related: Starting A New Business? (Top Tips You NEED To Know!)

starting an ecommerce storeHow Do I Start An Online Store?

Honestly, it’s super easy!

You only need…

  • a domain name,
  • a place to host your website,
  • and an eCommerce site builder.

Even if you never learn how to design or code, you can have one up and driving in just a few minutes.

You could also use WordPress to make a free online shop and a plugin to handle the eCommerce side. Or you could use a site like Etsy and sell through their platform.

Sites like…

  • Shopify,
  • BigCommerce,
  • and Wix…

…are easy tools to use, too, especially if you want to use a template and make it easy for yourself. 

8 Online Shop Ideas

Having an eCommerce store makes sense for a lot of reasons. It brings in customers (e-commerce makes up about 14% of all sales and is consistently rising) and is easier to start than a brick-and-mortar store. 

If you want to start your own online store, here are some popular shop ideas.

Beauty & Health 

Some of the most significant businesses in the world are in the health, wellness, and beauty industries. There are many ways to make money online, but if you love these spaces, why not make some money doing what you enjoy?

As long as you can show people how important the products that you’re selling are to them, you have a good chance of selling them. Check out the Amazon product categories that make the most money, and learn what makes them so successful. Then, see if you can find or make similar products to sell yourself. 

Related: Make Your Business Thrive: 10 Fantastic Ways To Do So

Start a businessSell Thrifted/Gently Used Items

People are okay with buying used things as long as they are of high quality and in acceptable shape. This will typically require thrifting and going to second-hand places, like estate sales, garage sales, and consignment stores.

But by buying second-hand, you can have a higher profit margin because you’re paying less and charging for quality. 

Related: How To Build A Successful Furniture Flipping Business In Your Spare Time

High-Tech Watches 

Individuals want more than just analog and digital watches nowadays; they want smart wear.

People use smartwatches for many things, like staying in shape and making plans for their whole day. They have become so popular that sales are expected to reach $53.2 billion in 2022

You can usually do one of two things when it comes to smart watches. First, you can use a site like Alibaba to source the watches and then sell them brand new. Second, you can thrift them or purchase them from places like Facebook Marketplace and flip them to earn more money.

Smart Home Items

Individuals love to secure all their devices and make their lives more convenient. For example, the air conditioner should turn on when you open the garage entry when you get home from work. Or, you can set timers and order food right with your home speaker device. 

While some items, like Amazon’s, can’t be sold brand new from other businesses, you could sell them second-hand.

side hustle ideas - online coursesSell Online Courses 

Many educators can teach people all over the globe something useful. But you have to work on being a business owner too. To do this, put your education online through a course or mini-course! 

Related: How to Make Money Selling Online Courses

There are so many areas, niches, and jobs that they can’t all be found on one platform. Here’s your chance to teach people something they can’t learn anywhere else.

Related: 10 Genius Ways to Get More Sales Conversions in Your Online Business

Sell eBooks

You used to have to find a publisher before you could start selling books. But these days, you can write a book and self-publish it on an e-commerce platform or through sites like Amazon and Audible. This is a great idea for aspiring authors! 

You can write books or hire someone else to do it for you (as a ghostwriter). You can sell many copies of your book if you write something useful about an educational topic, and some other popular areas are romance, thriller, and young adult novels.

If selling through your own site, be sure to use a trusted online payment method. 

writing articles for moneyBecome A Freelance Writer

You can make quite a bit of money if you’re adequate at content writing or blogging. Instead of selling products, you can set up an online store to market your services. In some areas, you can also write the posts ahead of time and sell them, but be sure to not sell more than one copy at a time! 

Related: How to Make Extra Money As a Freelance Writer

Toys and Games For Kids/Collectors 

You may think kids no longer care about traditional toys and games now that they have video games and smartphones. But this isn’t true. The reality is that toy companies stay in business because kids still love toys. And that includes kids at heart! 

There is still a market for dolls and action figures that kids play with. Research what is currently selling and keep an eye out for vintage or antique items that may sell too. For example, rare Pokemon cards are all the rage right now, and many parents are paying upwards of hundreds of dollars for one card! 

How To Open An Online Store: What Are You Waiting For?

Beginning an e-commerce company is worthwhile, as the rise of e-commerce is astounding for any business. But with this growth comes the requirement for dedication and expertise. 

Luckily, you can sell almost anything online, from health and beauty products to children’s toys and games.

One of the best things about living in the digital age is that you can open an online store, which could be a great side hustle. In some cases, it could become a full-time job!

So what are you waiting for? Take the leap and open an online store! 

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AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard

Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.

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