Online bookstores are one of the most widely accepted forms of online businesses.You can start an online bookstore that sells many titles, but for a more targeted approach you may consider starting a bookstore that specializes in a particular type of book. This will differentiate you from the larger online book-sellers like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, and will also allow you to use highly targeted traffic-building techniques.
Setting up a bookstore online gives you some leeway with distributors as compared to other online business opportunities. Typically, book distributors grant longer terms of credit than other distributors or wholesalers. This is great, since books can sit in your inventory for extended periods of time. You don’t want to have to pay for stock that does not turn a profit for your online business.
To help enhance your online bookstore, you should try to develop a database of value-added reading for each selection you have listed on your site. This could be anything from author reviews and biographies to a chapter excerpt or table of contents. Whatever you decide to use to help enhance the listings on your online bookstore Web site, you will be adding more value to the products that you offer, which ultimately could decide whether a consumer will purchase the product or not.
If you decide to launch a specialized online bookstore, you should have knowledge of the particular subject and you should understand what your target market’s needs are. You will need to learn the retail book business returns, remainders, and so on.
Cost to Start this Business
Costs to set up this type of business can run anywhere from a low of about $3,000 for Web site design, development, and hosting (where the business is basically a member of Amazon or another bookstore’s affiliate program and provides recommendations and links to specific books), to a setup cost in the millions for the design, development, and setup of the next Amazon.com. An online bookstore where you set up your own storefront and carry a small inventory will likely cost you between $3,000 and $10,000.
Number of Employees Needed to Start
You can start this business with one person. In the beginning, this type of business could be run on a part-time basis.
This business has high international potential.
Important Business Issues to be Addressed
A common issue that most online bookstores face is having an efficient delivery service. If you tell your clients that your products are available for shipment within a 24-hour period, you should follow through with it. Nothing displeases customers more than having a purchase arrive two to three weeks after they have made a purchase. To offer the best possible shipping methods for your customers, investigate your local postal carrier for the most effective way to ship your products.
Keeping inventory information current on your Web site is critical.
Online Marketing Techniques
- Developing a comprehensive affiliate/associate program would not only send referral business to your bookstore, it would also increase the overall awareness of your site.
- Launching a strategic banner advertising campaign on Web sites frequented by your target market will send high volumes of traffic to your Web site. Your banner ads could contain coupons for specific titles.
- You should enable visitors to tell friends about certain book selections directly from your site via e-mail. This viral marketing technique is a great way to increase traffic to your Web site.
- A comprehensive link strategy should be developed and implemented. Links should be developed from cybermalls, meta-indexes, and sites that relate to your bookstore’s niche.
- You should develop a mail list where you will provide news on new releases, reviews, and author interviews.
- You could consider developing a loyalty program for frequent shoppers.
In addition to selling books, you might also consider selling other, related products such as bookmarks, book bags, or coffee mugs. Gift wrapping and custom cards could be additional services that you could provide to customers who are sending books directly to friends as gifts. You could offer gift certificates as well. These added features would enhance your Web site’s overall appeal.