The market for online retail has exploded in recent years. With an increasing number of retailers eschewing the high street in favour of the worldwide web, there are plenty of opportunities to acquire an internet-based retail business with the potential to build an enviable online empire. Many online retail businesses operate with much lower overheads than traditional bricks and mortar shops and are able to tempt buyers from a much wider pool.
Some of the logistics and customer service processes are the same as in a high street shop and the lack of a physical retail presence means you’ll have to work hard to get customers to visit your virtual store. That said, there are more opportunities to create successful businesses that may find it tough to turn a profit from a single geographical location. Niche can be your best bet: if you already know a lot about knitting, for instance, you could bring your expertise to an existing online retailer specialising in exotic yarns.
The big advantage of running an online business is that you can usually set your own hours and grow it at your own pace – it may even be possible to manage it alongside an existing job. Consider how much time you want to invest before you start to search for online businesses for sale. It’s also easier to keep overheads under control: unless you require more storage space for stock than can be accommodated in a garage, it’s usually possible to run your online business from home.
The due diligence process for online retailers differs slightly from the norm. In particular, you’ll need to verify the sellers’ claims regarding web traffic and advertising revenue. Most will let committed buyers look at the back end, providing they agree to a non-disclosure clause, but it’s worth giving this task to someone who knows what they’re looking for.