Starting an online business can be scary. With so many options and models to choose from, how do you know which one is right for your store?
Don't worry! In this post, we'll explore the most popular eCommerce business models to help you start strong and set your business up for success.
What is an eCommerce Business Model?
An eCommerce business model refers to how you structure your online store and make money from it.
The model you choose affects everything - from your startup costs, inventory, and operations to your revenue streams.
Picking the right model is crucial because it:
- Matches your business goals, budget, and experience level
- Fits your product type and target audience
- Allows you to scale and maximize profits over time
Below, we'll break down the most common models so you can find the perfect fit.
Have you heard about dropshipping? It's one of the most popular models for new eCommerce sellers.
Here's a quick rundown of how it works:
- You create an online store and list products to sell
- When a customer orders a product, you purchase it from a supplier
- The supplier ships the order directly to the customer
- You keep the profit margin between the product cost and sale price
- Low startup costs - you don't need much inventory or capital
- Easy to manage - you don't deal with shipping, returns, or fulfillment
- Flexibility - you can switch products and test new items easily
- Lower profit margins due to supplier and marketplace fees
- Less control over order fulfillment and customer experience
- Can be competitive to stand out among dropshipping stores
Overall, dropshipping is great for testing products and starting lean. It's ideal for new sellers before investing in large inventory.
2. Private Label
Private label is when you sell products manufactured and branded specifically for your business.
Here's how it works:
- You hire a supplier to manufacture products with your own logo and branding
- You purchase the inventory from the supplier
- You store and ship the products to customers from your own warehouse
- Higher profit margins since you control pricing and middlemen
- Build brand recognition and loyalty with your own products
- Better control over inventory, shipping, packaging, and quality
- Requires more startup capital to order product inventory
- Managing logistics like shipping and warehousing is more complex
- Slower to pivot products or test new items due to minimum order quantities
Private label allows you to cultivate a stronger brand presence. But it requires more upfront investment and infrastructure.
3. Handmade Business
Selling handmade or homemade products is a creative way to start a business.
Common handmade products include:
- Jewelry, pottery, quilts
- Soaps, candles, beauty products
- Baked goods, sauces, spices
- Low overhead costs since you provide the labor
- High profit margins when you sell directly to customers
- Personalized products that build an emotional connection
- Very labor intensive and limited ability to scale
- Consistency can be challenging when handmaking items
- Need talent, skill, and equipment to produce quality products
Handmade businesses are rewarding but involve manual effort. Make sure you enjoy the production process if you choose this route!
4. Brick-and-Mortar with Online Store
Many physical retail stores also sell online via their own eCommerce website. This provides flexibility to reach both local and global customers.
- Established brand recognition and customer base from physical store
- Ability to provide in-store pickup or returns to online customers
- Centralized inventory management for retail location and online orders
- Managing both physical and digital operations is complex
- Higher startup costs for rent, retail staff, and implementing website
- Must align pricing between physical and online store
The combination of brick-and-mortar and online provides expanded reach. But startup and operational costs are higher.
5. Hybrid Model
Don't feel limited to just one model! Many sellers use a hybrid model that combines elements from multiple approaches.
Some popular hybrid examples include:
- Running a dropshipping store with some bestselling private label products
- Offering handmade items along with curated vintage wares in an online boutique
- Operating an eCommerce site along with Amazon FBA and social commerce
Blending models allows you to enjoy the benefits of each. The flexibility also helps overcome limitations of any single approach.
Key Questions to Choose the Best Model
Picking the right model involves asking these key questions:
1. What is your budget?
Some models like private label require more startup funds for inventory, while dropshipping has lower capital needs.
2. What products do you want to sell?
If you offer handmade jewelry or art, a boutique model makes sense. But for trendy electronics, dropshipping may be better to quickly adapt.
3. What sales and order volume do you expect?
Models like handmade have more limited scaling capacity. Dropshipping can support higher order volumes off the bat.
4. Do you need to hold inventory?
With dropshipping, the supplier holds inventory. But private label requires you to store and manage products.
5. How much control do you want over branding?
For full control over branding, private label allows custom packaging and marketing.
6. What risks or investments are you willing to take?
Dropshipping and online boutiques are lower risk. Private label requires upfront inventory purchases.
Tips for Choosing the Best Model
Here are quick tips as you evaluate models for your business:
- Start lean - begin with dropshipping or minimal inventory to test products and demand
- Try a hybrid approach - blend models like handmade plus wholesale items
- Consider scalability - ensure your model can expand to meet future sales growth
- Know your margins - factor in marketplace fees, fulfillment costs, and labor
- Focus on your strengths - play to your existing expertise and experience
Choosing the right model sets your eCommerce venture up for success. Now you can make an informed decision and confidently move forward!
For more guidance on eCommerce models and profitable strategies, check out our website at Lameco. Our team of experts can help you start strong and grow your online business.
Ready to Find the Perfect eCommerce Model for Your Business?
Launching an online store is a big step. But don't let the business model decision intimidate you!
Now that you know the most popular options, take some time to:
- Evaluate your business goals - What do you want to achieve?
- Assess your budget and resources - How much can you invest upfront?
- Research product types and suppliers - What makes sense for your inventory?
- Estimate sales volume - How quickly do you expect to scale?
With this information, you can confidently choose the best eCommerce model for your needs.
For hands-on help and guidance, connect with the Lameco team. Our eCommerce experts can provide:
- Model and profitability analysis
- Product research and supplier recommendations
- Technical implementation and store setup
- Digital marketing and traffic generation