Will the end of furlough be the start of an eCommerce boom?
One in four workers in the UK have been furloughed, and while tens of thousands have now returned to their place of work, many remain on the scheme facing an uncertain future. As employers in August must pay the National Insurance and pension contributions for their employees, redundancies at firms which can no longer afford to maintain their staff have already begun. The fear of a cliff edge as the furlough scheme is withdrawn has prompted the government to offer firms that retain previously furloughed staff until January 2021 a £1000 retention bonus per employee. Nevertheless, the continuation of the furlough into October has created many ‘zombie firms’ which can no longer pay their bills but are being kept afloat by government contributions.
What does this all mean for employees? The pandemic as a whole has been a huge period of reflection for many, with career changes becoming widespread. Yet with continuing economic uncertainty as the Bank of England predicts unemployment could double by the end of the year, simply switching jobs is perhaps easier said than done. However, the working from home revolution has fired up entrepreneurial imaginations, as it has been proven that money can be made, and business can be conducted regardless of office space and location. This prompts the question, could the end of furlough be the beginning of a new online business boom?
A meeting of crisis and opportunity:
Online businesses require much less initial capital than traditional ventures, and as Amazon and other online retailers’ profits soar to unbridled heights, for those finding themselves seeking new opportunities, the answer may be to get online. Rather than shot gunning CVs, retooling as a freelancer or eCommerce website owner may be a solution. The first step is to consider your marketable skills, as several platforms now allow users to sign up as freelancers and bid for work in a vast number of fields including translation, graphic design, writing, web design and just about any other profession you can think of. This many not be for everyone though, as bidding for contracts is very competitive and this can drive down potential earnings.
As an alternative to the life of a freelancer, the ever-rising demand for online shopping has created a myriad of new opportunities to connect with potential customers. We explore some of the hottest trends creating a new generation of digital business owners.
Dropshipping, web flipping, and artisan products:
Not only is it no longer mandatory to have office space, the idea of physically handling stock itself has become a thing of the past as the new trend of dropshopping becomes popular. This involves partnering with an external company that houses and dispatches the product, while you take the orders via your eCommerce site. There are now a number of apps in place to facilitate this, such as Oberlo.
In tandem with this has been the rise of website flipping, where existing eCommerce websites are purchased and their revenue is improved through greater ranges of products, more focused SEO, PPC campaigns and other methods, meaning the websites can either be kept as a revenue stream or resold for greater profits.
Of course, an e-commerce business will not be a success without a great product or innovative idea, whether for subscription services such as delivered meals, educational courses, or bespoke items such as jewellery and fashion that cannot be found on big platforms such as Amazon.
Another key to success: keeping your overheads low
While online businesses do require less capital than traditional start-ups this does not mean they are without both initial and ongoing costs. Website hosting, subscriptions to selling platforms, online advertising and perhaps most importantly, transaction costs on payments.
Many new to online selling do not realise that not all payment gateways are the same, and the rates you pay on your transactions can vary greatly. When selling in volume, this can be make or break, especially in the early phase of establishing your business. No doubt those coming fresh to online selling for the furlough will be very budget conscious.
At UTP we provide a fantastic e-Commerce online payment gateway solution, suited to enable budding entrepreneurs make their dreams reality. Our transaction rates are much lower than many large name competitors, and we provide a fantastic range of support. To find out more, take a look at our payment gateway page.
The end of furlough is a frightening prospect for many, but with challenges come opportunities. For some, making their living online could be a chance not only to make ends meet, but to thrive. We are here to help budding online entrepreneurs reach their goals, so if you are considering taking the plunge get in touch today!