Like many people visiting this forum on WebmasterWorld, I'm very interested in starting an online retail business. I have a small niche picked out that complements a content site I already run, and I have all the technical skills I need to implement an online store.
What I realize is one of my weak spots and what I would like help with now is fundamental retail merchandising. Specifically, the mechanics of acquiring and managing inventory, cash flow, what the important metrics are, etc.
I plan to start very small, on a part-time basis. I also plan to bootstrap the operation with my own funds even though I realize that will restrict growth potential at first. So while I don't need the comprehensive skills required to run a Fortune 500 company, I don't quite feel comfortable getting started without understanding some basics.
So I guess my questions are:
1. Where are some good places to learn the basics? Any recommended books, web sites, etc.? (I'm sure the "school of hard knocks" will also factor prominently in my education)
2. For those of you that are successful at online retailing, how well did you understand retailing when you first started and how important do you think it is for new retailers to know the basics before they get started?
I could always just "buy a bunch of stuff", throw up a web site and hang up the "for sale" sign, but I'm trying to approach this as professionally as possible.
Thanks for any help or advice you can provide.