Instagram Sellers: When Should You Go Ecommerce?
People still reach you through Instagram DMs. Maybe it’s time to own that .com storefront you’ve always wanted. Should you make the leap and get own e-commerce shop?
We build Shopify stores for people. But we’re not here to tell you that you need one right now. Sometimes you should wait. Sometimes you shouldn’t jump in at all.
So when is the best time to move on from your Instashop to a full-fledged e-commerce store?
But first, why do you want a shop? “Because it's cool.” Most people would never admit that they would make a pivotal business decision based on narcissism, but you’d be surprised how many people do it this way. Unless you’re sweating cash from the pores of your skin, pursuing coolness guarantees your undoing.
You can launch a cool shop and get all the hearts to fill your ego, but you won’t stay cool for long. The cool don’t survive—the profitable do.
You should only start your own shop when the odds of survival are higher than the odds of death. That means you should already be making money when you start.
Get customers first
If you struggle to sell your products on Instagram, you will struggle to sell them in your own shop.
People think that having a storefront will magically generate customers. Not true. An e-commerce shop will make the buying experience better for your customers, but it won’t get you new customers.
Win customers first.
Make them love your product. Make sure they’re coming back. Make sure you can tell them to join you in your new shop.
Compute your overhead
E-commerce shops cost a bit more to maintain than Instagram profiles. While they’re not really expensive, you would need to spend a minimum of around $200/month for subscriptions and services.
On top of that, you would need staff to run your shop.
Make sure that you’re making enough or have allocated a budget to anticipate these new expenses.
(Conversely, having a new shop will lower your stress and labor costs due to how easy it is to use compared to managing orders via DMs.)
Do not sell toilet paper
People don’t buy toilet paper like smartphones. Nobody spends five whole minutes contemplating on the best brand to buy. If one brand runs out, you happily move on to the next.
People ignore commodities. We buy them from the most convenient place possible at the cheapest price possible. Toilet paper. Garbage bags. Soda.
If your products are commodities, don’t start your own shop. People go to marketplaces like Amazon or Lazada for those and nobody will make the effort to get toilet paper from a little known store like yours.
One exception to this rule is if you have leverage. For example, if you have an exclusive distribution contract that guarantees that you’re the only one who can sell toilet paper in your entire city, or you can price it lower than anyone else, then by all means.
Otherwise, avoid making a toilet paper e-commerce shop.
Ready your staff
Doesn’t matter if you’ve got six toned arms, running an e-commerce store will wear you down.
You will need to do customer service, take orders, fulfill orders, develop new products, take product photos, send them to influencers, run ads, and more. If you’re doing more than 10 orders per day, you’ll need help.
Before you start your e-commerce shop, make sure you have a team to help you out. (By the way, we can run your shop as a service so you can focus on selling!)
If you’re at the stage of asking whether you should have your own shop, make sure to ask the key questions we discussed:
- Do you already have customers?
- Are you making enough to pay for a shop’s overhead?
- Are your products special enough that people won’t just buy them in the big shops?
- Do you have a team to run your shop?
If you’re in doubt, sleep on it and see if you can’t be convinced otherwise. But if you’ve done your homework and you think you’re ready to make the leap and move on from Instagram DMs, then jump right in.