E-commerce Business Tips for Digital Nomads

E-commerce Business Tips for Digital Nomads

Transitioning from a traditional job to the digital nomad lifestyle involves key life changes. One of the most significant factors to consider is making income. While some employers might support a 100% remote employee traveling the country or globe, many current or aspiring digital nomads ultimately choose to become self-employed and/or launch businesses.

Fewer people are working in e-commerce, but there is ample room for opportunity! The digital nomad lifestyle has been booming, with some projections suggesting the number will reach 70 million by 2030. Many individuals have gotten creative about financially supporting this type of lifestyle. Building a business is a popular option, and e-commerce is a great opportunity.

If you’re considering becoming a digital nomad or transitioning to a new gig, launching an e-commerce business is a potential avenue to becoming totally self-sufficient, furthering your goal of pursuing the sustainable lifestyle you’ve only dreamed of.

To launch and run an e-commerce business remotely, consider the following factors.

1. Decide on a product to sell

Much like any other type of business, you’ll need to identify a market niche and develop an idea to sell. Ideally, you want to choose a product (or service) you’re either passionate about or in a retail market where you possess strong knowledge and skill. Popular ideas include:

  • Handmade products
  • Digital or traditional artwork
  • eBooks
  • Print-on-demand products
  • Website design
  • Dropshipping (perfect opportunity since digital nomads don’t have to maintain space for inventory)

E-commerce opportunities are numerous, but you’ll want to do enough research and develop a feasible business plan. Product research is an essential component. Before making your final decision, consider competitors, market saturation, product size and weight (shipping costs), current trends, and the expenses associated with creating or obtaining products.

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2. Be sure your business can support a nomadic lifestyle

Once you decide on the product you want to sell, you must choose the right business model to support your nomadic lifestyle. This means flexibility and scalability. You’ll need to effectively handle growth without sacrificing quality and/or efficiency.

  • Determine market demand to make certain you can sell
  • Choose a model where you don’t have to be 100% hands-on all the time
  • Plan to rely heavily on internet access since you’ll be remote

Additionally, since a nomadic lifestyle typically involves some level of adventure and/or exploration, you’ll want to make sure you carve in time to do these activities. If you can somehow incorporate passive income into your business model, you can still generate revenue while you’re off backpacking, touring, or otherwise off-the-grid. For example, digital products ready for download or investing in dropshipping where another company handles fulfillment offers you the ability to work and play simultaneously.

Depending on where you’re working and traveling, you must be sure you adhere to the laws of the countries where you sell. Legal considerations you’ll need to keep in mind include:

  • Remember that an LLC designation adds stronger credibility and trust when choosing a business structure, such as a sole proprietorship or an LLC.
  • Learn the legal requirements and regulations associated with your chosen location to register your business.
  • Properly registering your business with applicable government authorities.
  • Obtaining required permits and licenses.
  • Understanding tax obligations and planning to comply with tax laws in your home country and any others you operate in.

Furthermore, working with a professional specializing in forming companies can help ensure you properly establish your business and meet any required legal obligations your company must comply with. According to the GovDocFiling guide, in the United States, obtaining a Tax ID (or EIN) is critical for any entity intending to start a business. You also want to remember, if applicable, to obtain any Visas or other permits, you need to work in other countries.

4. Handle money and other financial aspects of your company

Money will be an important consideration as you either transform your current digital nomad revenue source to an e-commerce model or are completely transitioning to this new lifestyle. The following are financial considerations you’ll need to think about.

Setting a budget

After you hit the proverbial road, you’ll eliminate standard living expenses, such as rent, mortgage, and most utilities. However, you’ll also assume new financial obligations, such as traveling expenses, accommodations, investments in technology, ample data plan, and other costs.

An essential component of running an e-commerce company as a digital nomad is setting a budget and a financial plan. Estimate your monthly expenses, calculate your anticipated income, and set your financial goals.

Once you’ve estimated your expenses, follow the 25% rule by adding this extra amount to your budget to account for costs you may not anticipate – whether for need (e.g., your technology needs replacing) or want (e.g., an exciting excursion you come across).

Establishing separate business and personal accounts

To successfully run your business, it’s smart not to combine your business and personal bank accounts. Consider opening a separate bank account for your business. Theoretically, this isn’t required, but doing so offers many advantages since it keeps your business cash flow separate from your personal one.

Separating your accounts is beneficial in many ways since it protects your limited liability, simplifies your tax filing, streamlines your bookkeeping, and offers additional credit options, including a few advantages.

Creating an emergency fund

Since you’ll consistently travel from place to place, you’ll also want to set up an emergency fund to account for unexpected events or situations. You never want to be stuck far away from home without easy access to immediate funds. Put aside at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This will cover any urgent financial needs and provide a cushion if your business hits a slump.

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5. Pick a platform to host your online shop

Your e-commerce site will be 100% reliant upon the Internet, so you’ll want to plan carefully for this aspect of your company. While you could build your own platform, this will involve a heavy investment of your time and money, depending upon how you approach it. Many digital nomads find it more feasible to work with a third party. Your choices will be many. Popular options include:

  • eBay
  • Shopify
  • Etsy
  • Amazon
  • BigCommerce
  • Square

Every e-commerce hosting platform has its own features and rules. Carefully vet each one before making your selection. If you want full control over your e-commerce options, choose a lower-cost option, such as establishing a WordPress site and integrating WooCommerce.

6. Invest in technology to support your e-commerce business

Technology is crucial to the success of any e-commerce business and, as a digital nomad, it’s even more critical since you’ll be 100% dependent upon the reliability of your technology.

  • Obtain a reliable and fast internet connection by choosing the right ISP (internet service provider).
  • Invest in a reliable portable Wi-Fi hotspot for when you’re on the move and need a secure connection.
  • Plan to integrate co-working spaces and cafés into your travels to have access to reliable internet connections.
  • Invest in a good VPN with servers in the locations you plan to operate from, like a VPN Australia if targeting the Australian market, to ensure a secure connection and potentially access geo-restricted resources relevant to your target audience..
  • Consider satellite devices if you’re venturing into really remote areas.

To help save on costs, monitor your data use to ensure you don’t go over it, and optimize your time online by being efficient and not leaving open apps or website tabs.

7. Find ways to network and collaborate with other digital nomads

Living from place to place can be highly rewarding, but it can get lonely. Plan to integrate social time into your travels by actively networking and collaborating with other digital nomads. This effort can curb feelings of isolation while helping you expand your professional reach.

You may find another nomad to collaborate with if your e-commerce ventures complement one another. Other benefits include potential free marketing opportunities since you can promote one another’s e-commerce websites in your travels. Another advantage is you can learn tips from other more experienced digital nomads who can expand your knowledge and provide good e-commerce strategies.

Join online communities and forums supporting the digital nomad lifestyle to find other digital nomads. Check Facebook groups, Reddit subforums, and other online venues. This is a great way to network if you can locate digital nomad meetups, conferences, or co-working spaces.

Finding other digital nomads helps create friendships, find mentors, identify collaborators, and provide numerous other business opportunities.

8. Build a strong brand and develop a solid online presence

In any given business, a professional reputation is everything. You won’t get the credibility and momentum you need to succeed without a strong brand identity. Plan to invest time and energy into building a strong brand and solidifying a positive online presence.

Customize your e-commerce site

The web is crowded, and you’ll need to stand out among the crowd to get your brand noticed. Customize your e-commerce site to be welcoming, descriptive, easy to navigate, and mobile-friendly while sharing some information about yourself.

Engage with people on social media

Plan to create a few social media profiles you can reasonably keep up-to-date to share useful content relating to your product. Be sure to engage on your profiles by responding to comments, questions, and feedback. How-to guides, tips and tricks, videos, and entertaining information are good ways to connect with potential customers.

Set up a blog or podcast

If you can blog, this is a great way to generate attention to your brand by providing stand-out content. Also, consider podcasting as another potential avenue to build your brand identity. Not able to keep up with your own blog or podcast? Try reaching out to people in your network to see if you can guest for them.

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E-commerce is the perfect business idea to support a digital nomad lifestyle

E-commerce sales continue to boom, hitting an estimated 5.8 trillion worldwide in 2023. Projections suggest this number will swell to $8 trillion in three years. The numbers tell the story. As far as e-commerce is concerned, there is no going backward. Going forward, people making regular online purchases will remain a constant staple globally.

While a solopreneur can manage many kinds of businesses remotely, e-commerce is a great model due to its ease and “build it and leave it” possibilities, giving nomads the perfect opportunity to support their dreams while spending time adventuring financially.

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FAQs: E-commerce Business Tips for Digital Nomads

What is the best business structure for a digital nomad?

The ideal business structure for a digital nomad hinges on factors like business type, taxes, laws, and personal choice. Popular choices include sole proprietorships, LLCs, or corporations, each with pros and cons. It's vital for nomads to evaluate their situation and seek guidance from legal and financial experts for the best fit.

What are the 4 types of e-commerce?

The four types of e-commerce are Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B), Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C), and Consumer-to-Business (C2B).

How do digital nomads make money?

Digital nomads make money through freelancing, remote work, online businesses, remote consulting, teaching or tutoring, and content creation.