Management & Finance > Merchant Voice

New U.K. ecommerce businesses need guidance

It has been two months since we started the lockdown in the U.K. It seems longer. The air is cleaner, and the traffic is quieter. It has been a peaceful time, but it’s soon over. The country is slowly waking up; people are moving around.

One thing has occurred during the lockdown that I did not predict but is obvious in hindsight: There has been an explosion of small internet businesses.

Many people have turned to their hobbies during the lockdown and contemplated how to make money from them. Ecommerce is an obvious choice. Initially they used Facebook and other local social media sites to advertise their goods. Those who found a ready market are considering a proper ecommerce site.

There has been an explosion of small internet businesses.

I listened to a BBC Four radio program where these new entrepreneurs were asking advice. The program provided two business owners for answers. Both had grown multi-million-pound companies from their homes. The dialog was interesting, but it was wrong. These millionaires had started decades ago. The internet is very different now. They were recommending Weebly and other generic template sites — not Shopify, WooCommerce, or indeed any proper ecommerce platform. These owners were too high up the management chain to provide start-up advice.

Guidance Needed

There is an opportunity here for service providers such as designers and developers. Whilst many of these start-ups are not likely viable, some will have real potential. Given the right guidance, they can grow and create meaningful, profitable ecommerce companies.

Many of these new entrepreneurs will lack sufficient capital. Some, however, will have money to spend and will seek the right advice to go the next step.

Idle designers and developers could help — and make some money. Many freelancers have experienced a drop in their business. Here is an opportunity to obtain new clients.

Presumably these new entrepreneurs are not rich. They cannot afford large up-front fees. Many are not tech-savvy. They may not know much about domains, or hosting, or collecting payments. It is likely far easier to sell them a monthly service to do it all.

Initially the work would probably be more than the monthly allotment. But once set up, the investment of your time should be paid back by the recurring fee. Having several of these businesses on retainer would likely streamline the load as much of the work would overlap.

The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way we all work. Changing the way we shop. It’s accelerating online shopping and creating new businesses. The ecommerce service industry can take advantage. Seek out these new opportunities.

Richard Stubbings

Richard Stubbings

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