Starting a little online shop? You can still learn from the big guys

Starting an online shop is a popular choice for aspiring business mums. Most of us start small, with a tiny budget and we bootstrap our way as best we can, but it pays to be inspired by the big guys every now and then.

Let me give you an example: Zalando is an online clothing store that started in 2008. You might notice that at Zalando, things operate on a slightly bigger scale that most mum-run businesses (revenues for 2011 were $262 million, according to Techcrunch) 🙂

Although it’s now a multinational e-commerce business, Zalando started out with one product range  (shoes) in just one country (Germany) and now sells fashion and lifestyle items in fourteen European countries including the UK. When we start our online shops, it’s tempting to sell a broad range of products to attract as many customers as we can. But if a big business with start-up funding chose to start with just shoes, that’s good evidence that going narrow is better than going broad. There’s plenty of time to add new ranges later on if you need to.

Something else you might notice from Zalando’s progress is that they didn’t have an original business idea. Online shoe stores were around way before 2008. Too many people get hung up on having a radically new and unique business idea when you just need to be better or different than what has gone before. In Zalando’s case they focused on customer loyalty which leads to repeat sales and word of mouth marketing.

Customer service, loyalty and word of mouth are all things that you can do well as a very small business, too.

So even though I focus on starting little online stores here at Business Plus Baby, I recommend you think bigger every now and then.

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