Finance Small Business Advisor: How to become an online retail mogul

Advisor: How to become an online retail mogul

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Hot off their stint on The Block, twin sisters Alisa and Lysandra decided to use their success to branch out. No, they didn’t make a perfume line and, no, they don’t have a spin-off reality show. They created an online homewares store.

“The idea came to us after doing two series of The Block and struggling to find things we liked in one store and wasting time,” says Alisa Fraser.

The twins, who were fan favourites, decided to branch out into the fast-growing world of online shopping, enlisting a web designer to create their dream site, AL Collections.

“We had a lot of help,” Alisa admits. “It’s tricky to get your head around. You go on websites and don’t appreciate how much effort goes into them, especially if, like me, you’re not computer savvy!”

However, the sisters are well aware of the potential rewards. The world of online retail is a lucrative one, with a February report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing that three out of four internet users shop online.

“Online shopping is such a trend right now, it’s really exciting,” Alisa says. “You start from this basic site with nothing. To watch it grow is a great feeling.”

So how can you jump on the bandwagon?

newdaily_280514_blockAlisa’s tips

Choose a web designer you trust: “At the end of the day they’re the ones creating the site so you have to have a good relationship.”

Know your brand inside out: “It’s about reading stats and seeing where people are buying and who you’re selling your product to.”

Don’t underestimate the importance of marketing: “It’s so competitive out there. Align yourself with a PR company and really talk about your brand.”

Stay on track: “You’re going to make mistakes along the way. Learn to recover from them quickly.”

To get started

If you don’t have a reality television following or a substantial budget, there are other ways to enter the e-commerce world.

If you’re clueless … Try your hand at selling things on established e-commerce platform. If you’re making handmade jewellery, art or clothing, Etsy is a great option. If you’re focused more on clothing, Big Cartel is easy to use and tailored to clothing sales. Musicians should head to BandCamp and everyone else should try their hand at eBay. Set up an account and see how you go.

If you have a bit of tech know-how … You can jump straight to a more customisable site that gives you some room to move. For a monthly fee, Shopify, Bigcommerce and Squarespace will let you showcase your wares and add your own touches. You can also purchase a WordPress commerce theme from a site like woocommerce.

If you need all the help you can get … Ask a friend. Digital natives will be able to give you some practical advice, as will online forums. Don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions.

Alternatively, invest some money and hire two people: A web developer and a designer. The developer will handle all the coding and functionality of the website, while a designer will cultivate the look and feel. Together, they can create a site and show you how to use it.

Handy hints

• Have a side site, like a blog on Tumblr or WordPress or an Instagram or Pinterest page, to generate awareness and help clarify your brand’s character and personality

• If you spend money on anything, make it your logo. This will give your brand a clear identity and is worth the investment. Most established designers will charge an hourly fee of $80 or more so choose carefully

• PayPal is your best friend. It’s the best option for secure, simple payment and can usually be easily linked to e-commerce sites. Make sure you’re aware of any transaction fees

View Comments