You can discuss the finer points of American Shaker, Danish, or Neo-classical furnishings. The number of leaves in, and seats around, a dining table matter, and you know the difference between a credenza, a cocktail table, and a coffee table. Yes, you can turn your love of coffee and dining tables into a profitable business and 3dcart is pleased to help.
We're fast approaching the point at which there is really no distinction between the dot.com companies and traditional businesses. The only distinction will be between the winners and losers, and of course, the pace of change at which companies become winners or losers.
3dcart has been launching successful e-commerce sites for fifteen years, and we've learned what works.
1. Tables - and Chairs? Just Tables.
You've heard it before; you can't be all things to all people. That's particularly true in online sales. It is crucial to have a very specific target niche. While you might ultimately decide that you can't sell dining tables without also offering chairs, it's best to build your business on the specific item(s) that have fueled your passion for home fashion. If it's tables, then be fearless about it. Ask yourself if you want to focus on designers, a particular aesthetic or period, or a type of wood or construction. Do you want to go high-end, or discount? Are you creating your own custom table designs? What table trends excite you?
Answering some of these questions, and many more that you're sure to come up with, are a great jumping-off point to determine your brand identity and start your business plan.
2. Building Inventory, or Finding It.
If you're building your own custom furniture, you need to think in terms of a deep bench, inventory-wise. How many pieces do you have that are ready to sell? Do you know how long it takes you to make more? Deciding based on past experience what your most popular designs are, and making a couple of them that are ready to go before you start selling online, will alleviate a lot of trouble for you later.
If you're not making the tables yourself, and depending on how you've chosen to focus your brand, you'll need to find manufacturers and suppliers that make it easy to restock popular items, and perhaps offer some unique, custom designs. Usually, you can use great online resources like eBay, but you can also visit your favorite wholesalers and manufacturers in person to acquire physical inventory. Be sure to tailor your merchandise to your online store's brand identity.
3. Shipping Costs how much?
Furniture is big, and heavy. Researching up front the cost to ship your merchandise, and building your shipping preparation costs into your product cost can determine whether you end up in the red or black ink column at the end of your fiscal year. Do you want to specialize in an Ikea-like line that reduces shipping costs, but that the customer assembles? Do you need to find a custom delivery firm, or limit your delivery area? Or, could you partner with a dropship inventory partner so that all the headaches of shipping belong to someone else?
4. Knowing Tables is Very Different From Selling Tables.
When you start to consider the myriad layers that have to be handled to sell furniture online, it can get really intimidating. Rather than lose heart, or try to re-invent the e-commerce wheel, find an online sales software partner. How easy is their shopping cart system to navigate? Do they offer furniture website templates that are easy to format and customize to your unique table brand? What about technical support? Inventory tracking? Social media integration?
Deciding what software partner to sell with is every bit as important as knowing which dining or coffee tables you want to sell. The biggest decisions in opening a new online venture are about who to work with to provide the best products and service to your customers. You want to spend your time selling tables, not building webpages. You want a software partner with a long and successful track record, strong tech and account support, and all the features you may need.
5. Ready to Sell? Spread the Word!
With your market researched, your inventory stocked, and your website ready to go, you're ready for orders to flood your inbox. But how will your customers know you exist? In the online world, hanging out a shingle isn't nearly enough, you need a system to hunt your customers in the vast internet wilderness and guide them through your virtual front door. If your software partner offers social media integration, make sure you've got a full e-marketing campaign ready to take advantage of it. A blog on your website, where you can talk about everything you love about tables, is great, but you've got to link it to outside pages by using Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to drive traffic. Pinterest is a particularly strong hub for people with an interest in home decorating trends, so link your site to your Pinterest boards, and then tweet all about it.