Setting Up a Virtual Store Through Shop Made in Nevada

The Nevada SBDC (Small Business Development Center) has been invaluable in helping me start this virtual business. In addition to helping me complete my application for a business license which included filing state and county DBAs (doing business as company names) and walking me through the registration process with the Nevada Department of Revenue, they also referred me to an Etsy-like website called Shop Made in Nevada.

This website is only a year old and was launched on October 29, 2020. To build this site, the Nevada SBDC partnered with Shop Where I live which is an Iowa based company that specializes in small business e-commerce initiatives. After receiving $1 million in a Nevada Google Impact Challenge Grant, the Nevada SBDC partnered with Startup Space to create Shop Made in Nevada. Over 100 Nevada businesses are now found on this site. Membership is free for any business that’s based in Nevada and has 50% or more of its product created in this state. Unlike Etsy which charges a 5% commission and eBay which charges an astounding 15% commission, Shop Made in Nevada has no commission fees.

The fact that this site doesn’t charge vendors a commission will be helpful to my bottom line particularly when you consider the cost of operating an e-commerce business. In addition to the commissions charged by most vending platforms there are also commissions for credit card processing services like PayPal, Square, and Cayan. PayPal’s commission for all retail transactions is 2.9% for all U.S. based businesses and 4.4% for any business that’s overseas. In comparison, Square charges a 2.6% commission rate and ten cents per transaction. Cayan charges a 2.8% commission.

In addition to processing fees, my blog has annual subscription and maintenance fees along with annual domain registration costs. There is also a monthly premium for product liability insurance.

Setting up a virtual business on Shop Made in Nevada has been really easy. The site provided an on-boarding checklist along with tutorial videos that explained every component step. Pictured below is a screen shot for a tutorial that I watched about how to list products for sale.

Product listing was pretty simple. Each item being sold had to have its own listing. This included a picture, a price, shipping cost, a brief description, the number of items available in inventory, and a meta tag and meta tag description to facilitate internet browsing searches. The product listing also allowed me to accept or decline purchase requests for out of stock items.

hamburger candles ready for sale

The only drawback to creating a product listing is because each element has to be approved by site administration, products cannot go live the moment one hits a submit button. Insofar as this will only be a seasonal part time business and how this is also a commission free site, I didn’t think that this was problematic. It does mean that I can’t confirm a launch date for October 23. Tasty-Candles will go live whenever the listings are published.

To avoid launching too early, I have not yet submitted any of my product listings for review and approval. I have instead set up my shop’s home page.

Pictured here is a draft version of my shop’s home page.

Although I could have listed my contact phone number and physical mailing address, I chose not to do so. Since Tasty-Candles will be a virtual business, I didn’t want any potential customers dropping by unexpectedly to visit my home. Not only am I not zoned to operate a brick and mortar business but since I’m autistic, unexpected visitors could disrupt my home routines and trigger a meltdown.

Since I wasn’t sure what to say about shipping, refund, and cancellation policies, I visited other Shop Made in Nevada stores to review what their policies were. Based upon what I learned, I decided to adopt the following policies.

Shipping: All shipping is flat rate. All purchases will be shipped within one week of having received the order.

Refund and Cancellation: Since my products are handmade, all sales are final. Products that were damaged in shipment will be replaced at no extra charge after the damaged product has been returned.

Inventory: At this time, my main stock in trade will be the products pictured below. This includes full sized burger candles, cinnamon rolls, assorted fruit pies (including lattice crusted pies), macaroni and cheese, Twinkies, Hawaiian rolls, croissants, assorted versions of Texas toast, and assorted pie slices.

Other limited runs primarily consisting of my production test models will be added to the store’s inventory on an intermittent basis to generate continued interest as well as a rotating stock. This includes products like hotdogs in a bun, orange chicken with shrimp, and beef with broccoli.

The Belgian waffles that I first created over this past weekend will be added to the inventory in November. Not only will this give me more time to produce these candles and to let them cure over a two week period but purchasing more silicone mix will allow me to produce additional molds. Having at least one other mold will allow me to increase my production rate.

newly made Belgian waffle candles

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