Anyone can start up a mail order business if they have a good idea and the ability to market their products effectively, and it can be a very attractive business model. Here is a guide to the main stages of setting up your own home mail order business.
Decide What to Sell
The first thing to decide is what to sell. You can sell practically anything with a mail order business, as long as you can send the items in the mail. It is usually a good idea to specialise when you are just starting out. This will make it easier to market your business, and it can also lead to lower expenses when you have to produce your marketing material.
Whatever you decide upon, make sure that you know the ins and outs of your products. Is what you are selling legal? Are there any regulations you need to be aware of? What about insurance requirements? You must also find the space to keep your stock, whether that is in a spare room in your home, in a storage unit or in a warehouse.
Set Up Your Business
You will have to sort out a number of things before you can really get going with your mail order business, including your business name, branding, VAT, business bank account and other things that are involved in starting up any business. You may even need to take out a loan to get started. You may want to hire an accountant to help you set everything up, and you will also probably have to invest in equipment such as a computer, phone, stationery, envelopes and more.
Create a Website
Mail order businesses have been operating for longer than the internet has been around, but now that the internet is available it is a good idea to take advantage of it.
Hire a designer to set up a professional website and make sure that it is mobile friendly (more people are going online via their mobile devices and you want to capture their business). You don’t have to sell things through your website if you don’t want to, as you could just put up some information, your telephone number and a catalogue request form. However, you could also choose to have an online catalogue and allow people to buy directly from your website, as many people actually prefer this to buying over the phone.
Set Up Payment Processing
You will need to be able to accept payments made using credit and debit cards, so your own merchant account is essential. You can arrange this with your bank, but have a look around and compare deals to find the most suitable one for you. If you will sell items through your website, you will need reliable shopping cart software so that people can make their purchases quickly and securely directly from your website.
Market Your Business
With a mail order business, you can use traditional marketing techniques like classified ads, direct mail, leaflet distribution, display ads and radio ads. If you have a website, you can also focus on online marketing techniques including SEO, social media, email marketing and PPC.
Will you print out a catalogue? Many people still prefer to look through a physical catalogue when buying products, so this may be a large marketing expense for you. However, it is perfectly possible to run a mail order business without a physical catalogue, so it really depends upon your business.
Choose a Delivery Company
One of the most important things of all with a mail order business is to choose a delivery company that offers good value as well as an efficient service. A large majority of your business will come from repeat customers, and if the delivery is slow or the items turn up in bad condition you are going to lose customers. For that reason, an experienced courier will be essential to the running of your business.
Get Going with Your Mail Order Business
A mail order business can be a perfect idea for anyone who wants to run their own business from home. It really can work out if you have a good idea and work hard, and there is no reason why you cannot grow your business and turn it into a highly profitable venture. Just make sure you get the basics right at the beginning, then have fun setting up and running your own business.