If you trade online, the chances are you pick up custom from overseas. Emma Jones, founder of home business website Enterprise Nation and author of Spare Room Start Up, offers a short guide to setting up as international online trader
In a recent report on the characteristics of home-based businesses, it was revealed that the proportion of home businesses deriving more than half their sales from overseas customers is greater than for other small and medium-sized enterprises. Businesses started and run from home trade local - but they also have a growing propensity to trade globally.
So, how to get started? I suggest it's about getting three fundamentals right.
- The Platform. To sell to the world requires being seen by the world. Achieve this by being active on one of a number of powerful platforms; global marketplaces such as eBay and etsy.com and online trading spaces such as elance and peopleperhour.com are connecting buyers and sellers across the globe. As trade develops on these high profile platforms, consider creating your own site or blog. Companies like Venda offer online trading stores, allowing you to run your own store whilst maintaining trade through other platforms.
- Payment. With tools such as PayPal and Worldpay, you can easily accommodate ecommerce on your website and get paid without having to make up-front investment. PayPal is owned by eBay and has more than 100 million account holders. There is no up-front cost to installing PayPal - you pay transaction fees once the system is up and running. WorldPay has a dedicated site for small business and offers the opportunity to start trading and receiving payments online in one basic package. WorldPay customers are charged an up-front amount plus monthly and transaction charges. Google Wallet works pretty much like PayPal, with fees ranging from 1.4% to 3.4% plus 20p per transaction.
- Post & Packaging. The FedEx Small Business Centre offers all the information you need on packing and posting goods or visit your local Mail Boxes Etc and have them do the shipping for you. They have deals in place with most of the major postal companies: UPS, Parcelforce Worldwide and FedEx. And if you're looking for somewhere to store all your stock before sending it across the world, take a look at Access Self Storage and move stock out of your garage/hallway/spare room and in to its own dedicated space!
Taking these steps will see you start your adventure of international trade with the rich rewards it is sure to bring.
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