I am in the process of researching (and plan to start) an online business that fills a specific niche in Home Decor/Home & Garden decor. I have a few questions that I would appreciate any advice, input, suggestions and/or feedback.
1) What do you think are realistic revenue expectations for an online retail start-up for this type of business? I have no idea of how to forecast this number. I know there are a lot of factors to consider, such as marketing, web design, product offering, price points, service etc, but I am curious what a realistic expectation might be for 1st year, 2nd, 5th, etc
2) My plans are to start out with a semi-generic ecommerce site in order to keep costs low.. I have researched Yahoo's ecommerce solutions, google's, go daddy's, and Volusion. I don't think I will do the "free" design templates, but it would be a templated www. to start out with. Does anyone have any feedback on the best service to use? I was impressed by Volusions products and they charge a flat monthly fee rather than taking a % of profit.
3) As for products, I have found some wholesalers in the US that I am interested in using, but some of these are also selling to my competitors. I hesitate to use too many of the same suppliers b/c I want to differentiate my company from my competitors. I started searching on alibaba, tradekey etc and have found many manufacturers with products that I love. The problem is that I don't want to carry tons of inventory (actually would prefer to have none), but if I do have to carry some inventory I know it would not be container loads. Is there a way to partner with other businesses/organizations that also import products and "share" in the shipping costs.
Also, what other avenues could I take to get some of these unique products....contact distributors who import these products?
4) Do most online retailers carry inventory? If so, how much?
5) Does anyone know how I can find a list of sales reps, distributors, wholesalers etc that are specific to the Home Decor business....and even outdoor decor (Home & Garden).
I think that is it for now. Thank you in advance for any help.